Frank Frank - 1 month ago 9
C++ Question

Should I put many functions into one file? Or, more or less, one function per file?

I love to organize my code, so ideally I want one class per file or, when I have non-member functions, one function per file.

The reasons are:


  1. When I read the code I will always
    know in what file I should find a
    certain function or class.

  2. If it's one class or one non-member
    function per header file, then I won't
    include a whole mess when I
    include
    a header file.

  3. If I make a small change in a function then only that function will have to be recompiled.



However, splitting everything up into many header and many implementation files can considerately slow down compilation. In my project, most functions access a certain number of templated other library functions. So that code will be compiled over and over, once for each implementation file. Compiling my whole project currently takes 45 minutes or so on one machine. There are about 50 object files, and each one uses the same expensive-to-compile headers.

Maybe, is it acceptable to have one class (or non-member function) per header file, but putting the implementations of many or all of these functions into one implementation file, like in the following example?

// foo.h
void foo(int n);

// bar.h
void bar(double d);

// foobar.cpp
#include <vector>
void foo(int n) { std::vector<int> v; ... }
void bar(double d) { std::vector<int> w; ... }


Again, the advantage would be that I can include just the foo function or just the bar function, and compilation of the whole project will be faster because
foobar.cpp
is one file, so the
std::vector<int>
(which is just an example here for some other expensive-to-compile templated construction) has to be compiled in only once, as opposed to twice if I compiled a
foo.cpp
and
bar.cpp
separately. Of course, my reason (3) above is not valid for this scenario: After just changing foo(){...} I have to recompile the whole, potentially big, file
foobar.cpp
.

I'm curious what your opinions are!

Answer

IMHO, you should combine items into logical groupings and create your files based on that.

When I'm writing functions, there are often a half a dozen or so that are tightly related to each other. I tend to put them together in a single header and implementation file.

When I write classes, I usually limit myself to one heavyweight class per header and implementation file. I might add in some convenience functions or tiny helper classes.

If I find that an implementation file is thousands of lines long, that's usually a sign that there's too much there and I need to break it up.

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