poindexter poindexter - 2 months ago 7x
C++ Question

How do I allocate a std::string on the stack using glibc's string implementation?

int main(void)
std::string foo("foo");

My understanding is that the above code uses the default allocator to call new. So even though the std::string foo is allocated on the stack the internal buffer inside of foo is allocated on the heap.

How can I create a string that is allocated entirely on the stack?


I wanted to do just this myself recently and found the following code illuminating:

Chronium's stack_container.h

It defines a new std::allocator which can provide stack-based allocation for the initial allocation of storage for STL containers. I wound up finding a different way to solve my particular problem, so I didn't actually use the code myself, but perhaps it will be useful to you. Do be sure to read the comments in the code regarding usage and caveats.

To those who have questioned the utility and sanity of doing this, consider:

  • Oftentimes you know a priori that your string has a reasonable maximum size. For example, if the string is going to store a decimal-formatted 32-bit integer,you know that you do not need more than 11 characters to do so. There is no need for a string that can dynamically grow to unlimited size in that case.
  • Allocating from the stack is faster in many cases than allocating from the heap.
  • If the string is created and destroyed frequently (suppose it is a local variable in a commonly used utility function), allocating from the stack instead of the heap will avoid fragmentation-inducing churn in the heap allocator. For applications that use a lot of memory, this could be a game changer.

Some people have commented that a string that uses stack-based allocation will not be a std::string as if this somehow diminishes its utility. True, you can't use the two interchangeably, so you won't be able to pass your stackstring to functions expecting a std::string. But (if you do it right), you will be able to use all the same member functions on your stackstring that you use now on std::string, like find_first_of(), append(), etc. begin() and end() will still work fine, so you'll be able to use many of the STL algorithms. Sure, it won't be std::string in the strictest sense, but it will still be a "string" in the practical sense, and it will still be quite useful.