Filesystem Tutorial
 Home    Tutorial    Reference    FAQ    Releases    Portability    V3 Intro    V3 Design    Deprecated    Bug Reports

## Introduction

This tutorial develops a little command line program to list information about files and directories - essentially a much simplified version of the POSIX ls or Windows dir commands. We'll start with the simplest possible version and progress to more complex functionality. Along the way we'll digress to cover topics you'll need to know about to understand Boost.Filesystem.

Source code for each of the tutorial programs is available, and you are encouraged to compile, test, and experiment with it. To conserve space, we won't always show boilerplate code here, but the provided source is complete and ready to build.

## Preliminaries

Install the Boost distribution if you haven't already done so. See the Boost Getting Started docs.

This tutorial assumes you are going to compile and test the examples using the provided scripts. That's highly recommended.

If you are planning to compile and test the examples but not use the scripts, make sure your build setup knows where to locate or build the Boost library binaries.

Fire up your command line interpreter, and type the following commands:

 Ubuntu Linux $cd boost-root/libs/filesystem/example/test$ ./setup.sh Copying example programs... $./build.sh Compiling example programs...$ ./tut1 Usage: tut1 path

 Microsoft Windows >cd boost-root\libs\filesystem\example\test >setup Copying example programs... >build Compiling example programs... >tut1 Usage: tut1 path

If the tut1 command outputs "Usage: tut1 path", all is well. A set of tutorial example programs has been copied (by setup) to boost-root/libs/filesystem/example/test and then built. You are encouraged to modify and experiment with them as the tutorial progresses. Just invoke the build script again to rebuild, or invoke b2 directly.

If something didn't work right, here are some troubleshooting suggestions:

• If the b2 program executable isn't being found, check your path environmental variable or see Boost Getting Started.

• Look at b2.log to try to spot an indication of the problem.

## Reporting the size of a file - (tut1.cpp)

Let's get started. Our first example program, tut1.cpp, reports the size of a file:

 #include #include using namespace boost::filesystem; int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { if (argc < 2) { std::cout << "Usage: tut1 path\n"; return 1; } std::cout << argv[1] << " " << file_size(argv[1]) << '\n'; return 0; }

The Boost.Filesystem file_size function returns a uintmax_t containing the size of the file named by the argument. The declaration looks like this:

uintmax_t file_size(const path& p);

For now, all you need to know is that class path has constructors that take const char * and other string types. (If you can't wait to find out more, skip ahead to the class path section of the tutorial.)

Please take a minute to try out tut1 on your system, using a file that is known to exist, such as tut1.cpp. Here is what the results look like on two different operating systems:

 Ubuntu Linux $./tut1 tut1.cpp tut1.cpp 569 $ ls -l tut1.cpp -rw-rw-r-- 1 beman beman 569 Jul 26 12:04 tut1.cpp

 Microsoft Windows >tut1 tut1.cpp tut1.cpp 592 >dir tut1.cpp ... 07/26/2015 07:20 AM 592 tut1.cpp ...

So far, so good. The reported Linux and Windows sizes are different because the Linux tests used "\n" line endings, while the Windows tests used "\r\n" line endings. The sizes reported may differ from the above if changes have been made to tut1.cpp.

Now try again, but give a path that doesn't exist:

 Ubuntu Linux $./tut1 foo terminate called after throwing an instance of 'boost::filesystem::filesystem_error' what(): boost::filesystem::file_size: No such file or directory: "foo" Aborted (core dumped)  Microsoft Windows >tut1 foo An exception is thrown; the exact form of the response depends on Windows system options. What happens? There's no file named foo in the current directory, so by default an exception is thrown. See Error reporting to learn about error reporting via error codes rather than exceptions. Try this:  Ubuntu Linux $ ./tut1 . terminate called after throwing an instance of 'boost::filesystem::filesystem_error' what(): boost::filesystem::file_size: Operation not permitted: "." Aborted (core dumped)

 Microsoft Windows >tut1 . An exception is thrown; the exact form of the response depends on Windows system options.

The current directory exists, but file_size() works on regular files, not directories, so again an exception is thrown.

We'll deal with those situations in tut2.cpp.

## Using status queries to determine file existence and type - (tut2.cpp)

Boost.Filesystem includes status query functions such as  exists, is_directory, and  is_regular_file. These return bool's, and will return true if the condition described by their name is met. Otherwise they return false, including when any element of the path argument can't be found.

tut2.cpp uses several of the status query functions to cope with non-existent files and with different kinds of files:

 #include #include using namespace std; using namespace boost::filesystem; int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { if (argc < 2) { cout << "Usage: tut2 path\n"; return 1; } path p(argv[1]); // avoid repeated path construction below if (exists(p)) // does path p actually exist? { if (is_regular_file(p)) // is path p a regular file? cout << p << " size is " << file_size(p) << '\n'; else if (is_directory(p)) // is path p a directory? cout << p << " is a directory\n"; else cout << p << " exists, but is not a regular file or directory\n"; } else cout << p << " does not exist\n"; return 0; }

Give it a try:

 Ubuntu Linux $./tut2 tut2.cpp "tut2.cpp" size is 997$ ./tut2 foo "foo" does not exist $./tut2 . "." is a directory  Microsoft Windows >tut2 tut2.cpp tut2.cpp size is 1039 >tut2 foo "foo" does not exist >tut2 . "." is a directory Although tut2 works OK in these tests, the output is less than satisfactory for a directory. We'd typically like to see a list of the directory's contents. In tut3.cpp we will see how to iterate over directories. But first, let's try one more test:  Ubuntu Linux $ ls /home/jane/foo ls: cannot access /home/jane/foo: No such file or directory $./tut2 /home/jane/foo terminate called after throwing an instance of 'boost:: filesystem::filesystem_error>' what(): boost::filesystem::status: Permission denied: "/home/jane/foo" Aborted  Microsoft Windows >dir e:\ The device is not ready. >tut2 e:\ An exception is thrown; the exact form of the response depends on Windows system options. On the Linux system, the test was being run from an account that did not have permission to access /home/jane/foo. On the Windows system,  e: was a Compact Disc reader/writer that was not ready. End users shouldn't have to interpret cryptic exceptions reports, so as we move on to tut3.cpp we will increase the robustness of the code, too. ## Directory iteration plus catching exceptions - (tut3.cpp) Boost.Filesystem's  directory_iterator class is just what we need here. It follows the general pattern of the standard library's istream_iterator. Constructed from a path, it iterates over the contents of the directory. A default constructed directory_iterator acts as the end iterator. The value type of directory_iterator is  directory_entry. A  directory_entry object contains path and file_status information. A  directory_entry object can be used directly, but can also be passed to path arguments in function calls. The other need is increased robustness in the face of the many kinds of errors that can affect file system operations. We could do that at the level of each call to a Boost.Filesystem function (see Error reporting), but for simplicity tut3.cpp uses an overall try/catch block.  #include #include using std::cout; using namespace boost::filesystem; int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { if (argc < 2) { cout << "Usage: tut3 path\n"; return 1; } path p (argv[1]); try { if (exists(p)) { if (is_regular_file(p)) cout << p << " size is " << file_size(p) << '\n'; else if (is_directory(p)) { cout << p << " is a directory containing:\n"; for (directory_entry& x : directory_iterator(p)) cout << " " << x.path() << '\n'; } else cout << p << " exists, but is not a regular file or directory\n"; } else cout << p << " does not exist\n"; } catch (const filesystem_error& ex) { cout << ex.what() << '\n'; } return 0; } Give tut3 a try, passing it a path to a directory as a command line argument. Here is a run on a checkout of the Boost Git develop branch, followed by a repeat of the test cases that caused exceptions on Linux and Windows:  Ubuntu Linux $ ./tut3 ~/boost/develop "/home/beman/boost/develop" is a directory containing: "/home/beman/boost/develop/rst.css" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boost" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boost.png" "/home/beman/boost/develop/libs" "/home/beman/boost/develop/doc" "/home/beman/boost/develop/project-config.jam.2" "/home/beman/boost/develop/.gitmodules" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boostcpp.py" "/home/beman/boost/develop/.travis.yml" "/home/beman/boost/develop/.gitattributes" "/home/beman/boost/develop/index.htm" "/home/beman/boost/develop/index.html" "/home/beman/boost/develop/bjam" "/home/beman/boost/develop/project-config.jam.1" "/home/beman/boost/develop/LICENSE_1_0.txt" "/home/beman/boost/develop/.git" "/home/beman/boost/develop/tools" "/home/beman/boost/develop/stage" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boostcpp.jam" "/home/beman/boost/develop/Jamroot" "/home/beman/boost/develop/.gitignore" "/home/beman/boost/develop/INSTALL" "/home/beman/boost/develop/more" "/home/beman/boost/develop/bin.v2" "/home/beman/boost/develop/project-config.jam" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boost-build.jam" "/home/beman/boost/develop/bootstrap.bat" "/home/beman/boost/develop/bootstrap.sh" "/home/beman/boost/develop/status" "/home/beman/boost/develop/boost.css"

 Microsoft Windows >tut3 \boost\develop "\boost\develop" is a directory containing: "\boost\develop\.git" "\boost\develop\.gitattributes" "\boost\develop\.gitignore" "\boost\develop\.gitmodules" "\boost\develop\.travis.yml" "\boost\develop\bin.v2" "\boost\develop\boost" "\boost\develop\boost-build.jam" "\boost\develop\boost.css" "\boost\develop\boost.png" "\boost\develop\boostcpp.jam" "\boost\develop\boostcpp.py" "\boost\develop\bootstrap.bat" "\boost\develop\bootstrap.sh" "\boost\develop\doc" "\boost\develop\index.htm" "\boost\develop\index.html" "\boost\develop\INSTALL" "\boost\develop\Jamroot" "\boost\develop\libs" "\boost\develop\LICENSE_1_0.txt" "\boost\develop\more" "\boost\develop\project-config.jam" "\boost\develop\rst.css" "\boost\develop\stage" "\boost\develop\status" "\boost\develop\tools" >tut3 e:\ boost::filesystem::status: The device is not ready: "e:\"

Not bad, but we can make further improvements:

• The listing would be much easier to read if only the filename was displayed, rather than the full path.

• The Linux listing isn't sorted. That's because the ordering of directory iteration is unspecified. Ordering depends on the underlying operating system API and file system specifics. So we need to sort the results ourselves.

The next sections show how how those changes play out, so read on!

## Using path decomposition, plus sorting results - (tut4.cpp)

For directories, tut4.cpp builds a  std::vector of all the entries and then sorts it before writing to  cout.

 #include #include #include #include using std::cout; using namespace boost::filesystem; int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { if (argc < 2) { cout << "Usage: tut4 path\n"; return 1; } path p (argv[1]); try { if (exists(p)) { if (is_regular_file(p)) cout << p << " size is " << file_size(p) << '\n'; else if (is_directory(p)) { cout << p << " is a directory containing:\n"; std::vector v; for (auto&& x : directory_iterator(p)) v.push_back(x.path()); std::sort(v.begin(), v.end()); for (auto&& x : v) cout << " " << x.filename() << '\n'; } else cout << p << " exists, but is not a regular file or directory\n"; } else cout << p << " does not exist\n"; } catch (const filesystem_error& ex) { cout << ex.what() << '\n'; } return 0; }

The only difference between tut3.cpp and tut4.cpp is what happens for directories. We changed:

for (const directory_entry& x : directory_iterator(p))
cout << " " << x.path() << '\n';

to:

std::vector<path> v;

for (auto&& x : directory_iterator(p))
v.push_back(x.path());

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end());

for (auto&& x : v)
cout << " " << x.filename() << '\n';


 filename() is one of several class path decomposition functions. It extracts the filename portion from a path (i.e. "index.html" from "/home/beman/boost/trunk/index.html"). These decomposition functions are more fully explored in the Path iterators, observers, composition, decomposition and query portion of this tutorial.

The above was written as two lines of code for clarity. It could have been written more concisely as:

v.push_back(it->path().filename()); // we only care about the filename

Here is the output from a test of tut4.cpp:

 Ubuntu Linux $./tut4 v  Microsoft Windows $ ./tut4 ~/boost/develop "/home/beman/boost/develop" is a directory containing: .git .gitattributes .gitignore .gitmodules .travis.yml INSTALL Jamroot LICENSE_1_0.txt bin.v2 boost boost-build.jam boost.css boost.png boostcpp.jam boostcpp.py bootstrap.bat bootstrap.sh doc index.htm index.html libs more project-config.jam project-config.jam.1 project-config.jam.2 rst.css stage status tools

That completes the main portion of this tutorial. If you haven't already worked through the Class path sections of this tutorial, dig into them now. The Error reporting section may also be of interest, although it can be skipped unless you are deeply concerned about error handling issues.

## Class path: Constructors, including Unicode - (tut5.cpp)

Traditional C interfaces pass paths as const char* arguments. C++ interfaces may add const std::string& overloads, but adding overloads becomes untenable if wide characters, containers, and iterator ranges need to be supported.

Passing paths as const path& arguments is far simpler, yet far more flexible because class path itself is far more flexible:

1. Class path supports multiple character types and encodings, including Unicode, to ease internationalization.
2. Class path supports multiple source types, such as iterators for null terminated sequences, iterator ranges, containers (including std::basic_string), and directory_entry's, so functions taking paths don't need to provide several overloads.
3. Class path supports both native and generic pathname formats, so programs can be portable between operating systems yet use native formats where desirable.
4. Class path supplies a full set of iterators, observers, composition, decomposition, and query functions, making pathname manipulations easy, convenient, reliable, and portable.

Here is how (1) and (2) work. Class path constructors, assignments, and appends have member templates for sources. For example, here are the constructors that take sources:

template <class Source>
path(Source const& source);
template <class InputIterator>
path(InputIterator begin, InputIterator end);

Let's look at a little program that shows how comfortable class path is with both narrow and wide characters in C-style strings, C++ strings, and via C++ iterators:

 #include #include #include namespace fs = boost::filesystem; int main() { // \u263A is "Unicode WHITE SMILING FACE = have a nice day!" std::string narrow_string ("smile2"); std::wstring wide_string (L"smile2\u263A"); std::list narrow_list; narrow_list.push_back('s'); narrow_list.push_back('m'); narrow_list.push_back('i'); narrow_list.push_back('l'); narrow_list.push_back('e'); narrow_list.push_back('3'); std::list wide_list; wide_list.push_back(L's'); wide_list.push_back(L'm'); wide_list.push_back(L'i'); wide_list.push_back(L'l'); wide_list.push_back(L'e'); wide_list.push_back(L'3'); wide_list.push_back(L'\u263A'); { fs::ofstream f("smile"); } { fs::ofstream f(L"smile\u263A"); } { fs::ofstream f(narrow_string); } { fs::ofstream f(wide_string); } { fs::ofstream f(narrow_list); } { fs::ofstream f(wide_list); } narrow_list.pop_back(); narrow_list.push_back('4'); wide_list.pop_back(); wide_list.pop_back(); wide_list.push_back(L'4'); wide_list.push_back(L'\u263A'); { fs::ofstream f(fs::path(narrow_list.begin(), narrow_list.end())); } { fs::ofstream f(fs::path(wide_list.begin(), wide_list.end())); } return 0; }

Testing tut5:

 Ubuntu Linux $./tut5$ ls smile* smile smile☺ smile2 smile2☺ smile3 smile3☺ smile4 smile4☺

 Microsoft Windows >tut5 >dir /b smile* smile smile2 smile2☺ smile3 smile3☺ smile4 smile4☺ smile☺

The exact appearance of the smiling face will depend on the font, font size, and other settings for your command line window. The above tests were run with out-of-the-box Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 7, US Edition. If you don't get the above results, take a look at the boost-root/libs/filesystem/example/test directory with your system's GUI file browser, such as Linux Nautilus, Mac OS X Finder, or Windows Explorer. These tend to be more comfortable with international character sets than command line interpreters.

Class path takes care of whatever character type or encoding conversions are required by the particular operating system. Thus as  tut5 demonstrates, it's no problem to pass a wide character string to a Boost.Filesystem operational function even if the underlying operating system uses narrow characters, and visa versa. And the same applies to user supplied functions that take const path& arguments.

Class path also provides path syntax that is portable across operating systems, element iterators, and observer, composition, decomposition, and query functions to manipulate the elements of a path. The next section of this tutorial deals with path syntax.

## Class path: Generic format vs. Native format

Class path deals with two different pathname formats - generic format and native format. For POSIX-like file systems, these formats are the same. But for users of Windows and other non-POSIX file systems, the distinction is important. Even programmers writing for POSIX-like systems need to understand the distinction if they want their code to be portable to non-POSIX systems.

The generic format is the familiar /my_directory/my_file.txt format used by POSIX-like operating systems such as the Unix variants, Linux, and Mac OS X. Windows also recognizes the generic format, and it is the basis for the familiar Internet URL format. The directory separator character is always one or more slash characters.

The native format is the format as defined by the particular operating system. For Windows, either the slash or the backslash can be used as the directory separator character, so /my_directory\my_file.txt would work fine. Of course, if you write that in a C++ string literal, it becomes "/my_directory\\my_file.txt".

If a drive specifier or a backslash appears in a pathname on a Windows system, it is always treated as the native format.

Class path has observer functions that allow you to obtain the string representation of a path object in either the native format or the generic format. See the next section for how that plays out.

The distinction between generic format and native format is important when communicating with native C-style API's and with users. Both tend to expect paths in the native format and may be confused by the generic format. The generic format is great, however, for writing portable programs that work regardless of operating system.

The next section covers class path observers, composition, decomposition, query, and iteration over the elements of a path.

## Class path: Iterators, observers, composition, decomposition, and query - (path_info.cpp)

The path_info.cpp program is handy for learning how class path iterators, observers, composition, decomposition, and query functions work on your system. It is one of the programs built by the build.sh and build.bat scripts:

 #include #include using namespace std; using namespace boost::filesystem; const char * say_what(bool b) { return b ? "true" : "false"; } int main(int argc, char* argv[]) { if (argc < 2) { cout << "Usage: path_info path-element [path-element...]\n" "Composes a path via operator/= from one or more path-element arguments\n" "Example: path_info foo/bar baz\n" # ifdef BOOST_POSIX_API " would report info about the composed path foo/bar/baz\n"; # else // BOOST_WINDOWS_API " would report info about the composed path foo/bar\\baz\n"; # endif return 1; } path p; for (; argc > 1; --argc, ++argv) p /= argv[1]; // compose path p from the command line arguments cout << "\ncomposed path:\n"; cout << " operator<<()---------: " << p << "\n"; cout << " make_preferred()-----: " << p.make_preferred() << "\n"; cout << "\nelements:\n"; for (auto element : p) cout << " " << element << '\n'; cout << "\nobservers, native format:" << endl; # ifdef BOOST_POSIX_API cout << " native()-------------: " << p.native() << endl; cout << " c_str()--------------: " << p.c_str() << endl; # else // BOOST_WINDOWS_API wcout << L" native()-------------: " << p.native() << endl; wcout << L" c_str()--------------: " << p.c_str() << endl; # endif cout << " string()-------------: " << p.string() << endl; wcout << L" wstring()------------: " << p.wstring() << endl; cout << "\nobservers, generic format:\n"; cout << " generic_string()-----: " << p.generic_string() << endl; wcout << L" generic_wstring()----: " << p.generic_wstring() << endl; cout << "\ndecomposition:\n"; cout << " root_name()----------: " << p.root_name() << '\n'; cout << " root_directory()-----: " << p.root_directory() << '\n'; cout << " root_path()----------: " << p.root_path() << '\n'; cout << " relative_path()------: " << p.relative_path() << '\n'; cout << " parent_path()--------: " << p.parent_path() << '\n'; cout << " filename()-----------: " << p.filename() << '\n'; cout << " stem()---------------: " << p.stem() << '\n'; cout << " extension()----------: " << p.extension() << '\n'; cout << "\nquery:\n"; cout << " empty()--------------: " << say_what(p.empty()) << '\n'; cout << " is_absolute()--------: " << say_what(p.is_absolute()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_name()------: " << say_what(p.has_root_name()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_directory()-: " << say_what(p.has_root_directory()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_path()------: " << say_what(p.has_root_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_relative_path()--: " << say_what(p.has_relative_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_parent_path()----: " << say_what(p.has_parent_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_filename()-------: " << say_what(p.has_filename()) << '\n'; cout << " has_stem()-----------: " << say_what(p.has_stem()) << '\n'; cout << " has_extension()------: " << say_what(p.has_extension()) << '\n'; return 0; }

Run the examples below on your system, and try some different path arguments as we go along. Here is the invocation we will talk about in detail:

 Ubuntu Linux \$ ./path_info /foo bar baa.txt composed path: operator<<()---------: "/foo/bar/baa.txt" make_preferred()-----: "/foo/bar/baa.txt" elements: "/" "foo" "bar" "baa.txt" observers, native format: native()-------------: /foo/bar/baa.txt c_str()--------------: /foo/bar/baa.txt string()-------------: /foo/bar/baa.txt wstring()------------: /foo/bar/baa.txt observers, generic format: generic_string()-----: /foo/bar/baa.txt generic_wstring()----: /foo/bar/baa.txt decomposition: root_name()----------: "" root_directory()-----: "/" root_path()----------: "/" relative_path()------: "foo/bar/baa.txt" parent_path()--------: "/foo/bar" filename()-----------: "baa.txt" stem()---------------: "baa" extension()----------: ".txt" query: empty()--------------: false is_absolute()--------: true has_root_name()------: false has_root_directory()-: true has_root_path()------: true has_relative_path()--: true has_parent_path()----: true has_filename()-------: true has_stem()-----------: true has_extension()------: true

 Microsoft Windows >path_info \foo bar baa.txt composed path: operator<<()---------: "\foo\bar\baa.txt" make_preferred()-----: "\foo\bar\baa.txt" elements: "/" "foo" "bar" "baa.txt" observers, native format: native()-------------: \foo\bar\baa.txt c_str()--------------: \foo\bar\baa.txt string()-------------: \foo\bar\baa.txt wstring()------------: \foo\bar\baa.txt observers, generic format: generic_string()-----: /foo/bar/baa.txt generic_wstring()----: /foo/bar/baa.txt decomposition: root_name()----------: "" root_directory()-----: "\" root_path()----------: "\" relative_path()------: "foo\bar\baa.txt" parent_path()--------: "\foo\bar" filename()-----------: "baa.txt" stem()---------------: "baa" extension()----------: ".txt" query: empty()--------------: false is_absolute()--------: false has_root_name()------: false has_root_directory()-: true has_root_path()------: true has_relative_path()--: true has_parent_path()----: true has_filename()-------: true has_stem()-----------: true has_extension()------: true

We will go through the above code in detail to gain a better understanding of what is going on.

A common need is to compose a path from its constituent directories. Class path uses / and /= operators to append elements. That's a reminder that these operations append the operating system's preferred directory separator if needed. The preferred directory separator is a slash on POSIX-like systems, and a backslash on Windows-like systems.

That's what this code does before displaying the resulting  path p using the class path stream inserter:

  path p; for (; argc > 1; --argc, ++argv) p /= argv[1]; // compose path p from the command line arguments cout << "\ncomposed path:\n"; cout << " operator<<()---------: " << p << "\n"; cout << " make_preferred()-----: " << p.make_preferred() << "\n";

One abstraction for thinking about a path is as a sequence of elements, where the elements are directory and file names. To support this abstraction, class path provides STL-like  iterators and also begin() and end() functions.

Here is the code that produced the list of elements in the above output listing:

 cout << "\nelements:\n"; for (auto element : p) cout << " " << element << '\n';

Let's look at class path observer functions:

  cout << "\nobservers, native format:" << endl; # ifdef BOOST_POSIX_API cout << " native()-------------: " << p.native() << endl; cout << " c_str()--------------: " << p.c_str() << endl; # else // BOOST_WINDOWS_API wcout << L" native()-------------: " << p.native() << endl; wcout << L" c_str()--------------: " << p.c_str() << endl; # endif cout << " string()-------------: " << p.string() << endl; wcout << L" wstring()------------: " << p.wstring() << endl; cout << "\nobservers, generic format:\n"; cout << " generic_string()-----: " << p.generic_string() << endl; wcout << L" generic_wstring()----: " << p.generic_wstring() << endl;

Native format observers should be used when interacting with the operating system or with users; that's what they expect.

Generic format observers should be used when the results need to be portable and uniform regardless of the operating system.

path objects always hold pathnames in the native format, but otherwise leave them unchanged from their source. The preferred() function will convert to the preferred form, if the native format has several forms. Thus on Windows, it will convert slashes to backslashes.

Moving on to decomposition:

  cout << "\ndecomposition:\n"; cout << " root_name()----------: " << p.root_name() << '\n'; cout << " root_directory()-----: " << p.root_directory() << '\n'; cout << " root_path()----------: " << p.root_path() << '\n'; cout << " relative_path()------: " << p.relative_path() << '\n'; cout << " parent_path()--------: " << p.parent_path() << '\n'; cout << " filename()-----------: " << p.filename() << '\n'; cout << " stem()---------------: " << p.stem() << '\n'; cout << " extension()----------: " << p.extension() << '\n';

And, finally, query functions:

  cout << "\nquery:\n"; cout << " empty()--------------: " << say_what(p.empty()) << '\n'; cout << " is_absolute()--------: " << say_what(p.is_absolute()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_name()------: " << say_what(p.has_root_name()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_directory()-: " << say_what(p.has_root_directory()) << '\n'; cout << " has_root_path()------: " << say_what(p.has_root_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_relative_path()--: " << say_what(p.has_relative_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_parent_path()----: " << say_what(p.has_parent_path()) << '\n'; cout << " has_filename()-------: " << say_what(p.has_filename()) << '\n'; cout << " has_stem()-----------: " << say_what(p.has_stem()) << '\n'; cout << " has_extension()------: " << say_what(p.has_extension()) << '\n';

These are pretty self-evident, but do note the difference in the result of is_absolute() between Linux and Windows. Because there is no root name (i.e. drive specifier or network name), a lone slash (or backslash) is a relative path on Windows but an absolute path on POSIX-like operating systems.

## Error reporting

The Boost.Filesystem file_size function, like many of the operational functions, has two overloads:

uintmax_t file_size(const path& p);
uintmax_t file_size(const path& p, system::error_code& ec);

The only significant difference between the two is how they report errors.

The first signature will throw exceptions to report errors. A  filesystem_error exception will be thrown on an operational error. filesystem_error is derived from std::runtime_error. It has a member function to obtain the  error_code reported by the source of the error. It also has member functions to obtain the path or paths that caused the error.

Motivation for the second signature: Throwing exceptions on errors was the entire error reporting story for the earliest versions of Boost.Filesystem, and indeed throwing exceptions on errors works very well for many applications. But user reports trickled in that some code became so littered with try and catch blocks as to be unreadable and unmaintainable. In some applications I/O errors aren't exceptional, and that's the use case for the second signature.

Functions with a system::error_code& argument set that argument to report operational error status, and so do not throw exceptions when I/O related errors occur. For a full explanation, see Error reporting in the reference documentation.