Quick Q: What is the usefulness of `enable_shared_from_this`?

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Quick A: It allows you to get a valid shared pointer from your instance directly.

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What is the usefulness of `enable_shared_from_this`?

It enables you to get a valid shared_ptr instance to this, when all you have is this. Without it, you would have no way of getting a shared_ptr to this, unless you already had one as a member. This example from the boost documentation for enable_shared_from_this:

class Y: public enable_shared_from_this<Y>
{
public:

    shared_ptr<Y> f()
    {
        return shared_from_this();
    }
}

int main()
{
    shared_ptr<Y> p(new Y);
    shared_ptr<Y> q = p->f();
    assert(p == q);
    assert(!(p < q || q < p)); // p and q must share ownership
}

The method f() returns a valid shared_ptr, even though it had no member instance. Note that you cannot simply do this:

class Y: public enable_shared_from_this<Y>
{
public:

    shared_ptr<Y> f()
    {
        return shared_ptr<Y>(this);
    }
}

The shared pointer that this returned will have a different reference count from the "proper" one, and one of them will end up losing and holding a dangling reference when the object is deleted.

enable_shared_from_this is going to be a part of the new C++0x standard as well, so you can also get it from there as well as from boost.

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