My take on variant—Jonathan Müller

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An interesting point of view and implementation of a variant in one article!

My take on variant

by Jonathan Müller

From the article:

C++17 is going to add std::variant. To quote the linked documentation, it is a “type-safe union”. A union is like a struct, but can only store one member at a time. This has many applications, but sadly it doesn’t mix well with non-trivial types, you have to call the destructor yourself etc. Furthermore, nothing prevents you from accessing a union member that isn’t active.

std::variant fixes that. It correctly calls the destructor when switching the active member, it prevents invalid access, etc. However, I’m not quite happy with it and I needed an implementation now. So I’ve decided to implement my own variant as part of my type_safe library.

It was a fun challenge and since my previous attempt was two years ago, I could improve it a lot. Let’s go through some of my design decisions.

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