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C++ Structure Initialization


Question

Is it possible to initialize structs in C++ as indicated below

struct address {
    int street_no;
    char *street_name;
    char *city;
    char *prov;
    char *postal_code;
};
address temp_address =
    { .city = "Hamilton", .prov = "Ontario" };

The links here and here mention that it is possible to use this style only in C. If so why is this not possible in C++? Is there any underlying technical reason why it is not implemented in C++, or is it bad practice to use this style. I like using this way of initializing because my struct is big and this style gives me clear readability of what value is assigned to which member.

Please share with me if there are other ways through which we can achieve the same readability.

I have referred the following links before posting this question

  1. C/C++ for AIX
  2. C Structure Initialization with Variable
  3. Static structure initialization with tags in C++
  4. C++11 Proper Structure Initialization
2017/06/23
1
288
6/23/2017 8:04:27 PM

Accepted Answer

If you want to make it clear what each initializer value is, just split it up on multiple lines, with a comment on each:

address temp_addres = {
  0,  // street_no
  nullptr,  // street_name
  "Hamilton",  // city
  "Ontario",  // prov
  nullptr,  // postal_code
};
2012/07/17
173
7/17/2012 6:03:16 AM

After my question resulted in no satisfying result (because C++ doesn't implement tag-based init for structures), I took the trick I found here: Are members of a C++ struct initialized to 0 by default?

For you it would amount to do that:

address temp_address = {}; // will zero all fields in C++
temp_address.city = "Hamilton";
temp_address.prov = "Ontario";

This is certainly the closest to what you wanted originally (zero all the fields except those you want to initialize).

2017/05/23

As others have mentioned this is designated initializer.

This feature is part of C++20

2017/12/04

The field identifiers are indeed C initializer syntax. In C++ just give the values in the correct order without the field names. Unfortunately this means you need to give them all (actually you can omit trailing zero-valued fields and the result will be the same):

address temp_address = { 0, 0, "Hamilton", "Ontario", 0 }; 
2012/07/17

This feature is called designated initializers. It is an addition to the C99 standard. However, this feature was left out of the C++11. According to The C++ Programming Language, 4th edition, Section 44.3.3.2 (C Features Not Adopted by C++):

A few additions to C99 (compared with C89) were deliberately not adopted in C++:

[1] Variable-length arrays (VLAs); use vector or some form of dynamic array

[2] Designated initializers; use constructors

The C99 grammar has the designated initializers [See ISO/IEC 9899:2011, N1570 Committee Draft - April 12, 2011]

6.7.9 Initialization

initializer:
    assignment-expression
    { initializer-list }
    { initializer-list , }
initializer-list:
    designation_opt initializer
    initializer-list , designationopt initializer
designation:
    designator-list =
designator-list:
    designator
    designator-list designator
designator:
    [ constant-expression ]
    . identifier

On the other hand, the C++11 does not have the designated initializers [See ISO/IEC 14882:2011, N3690 Committee Draft - May 15, 2013]

8.5 Initializers

initializer:
    brace-or-equal-initializer
    ( expression-list )
brace-or-equal-initializer:
    = initializer-clause
    braced-init-list
initializer-clause:
    assignment-expression
    braced-init-list
initializer-list:
    initializer-clause ...opt
    initializer-list , initializer-clause ...opt
braced-init-list:
    { initializer-list ,opt }
    { }

In order to achieve the same effect, use constructors or initializer lists:

2017/05/30

You can just initialize via ctor:

struct address {
  address() : city("Hamilton"), prov("Ontario") {}
  int street_no;
  char *street_name;
  char *city;
  char *prov;
  char *postal_code;
};
2014/02/14