More C++ Idioms/Construction Tracker

Construction Tracker


To identify the data member that throws an exception when initialization of two or more objects in the constructor's initialization list can throw the same exception type

Also Known AsEdit

Construction Tracker


When two or more objects are initialized in a constructor's initialization list and all of them can throw the same exception (std::exception), tracking which one of them failed become a tricky issue as there can be only one try block surrounding the initialization list. Such a try block has a special name called 'constructor try block', which is nothing but a 'function-try block'.

Solution and Sample CodeEdit

Construction Tracker idiom uses a simple technique to track successful construction on objects in the initialization list. A counter is simply incremented as constructors of objects finish successfully one-by-one. It cleverly uses bracket operator to inject the counter increments in between calls to the constructors all being invisible to the user of the class.

#include <iostream>
#include <stdexcept>
#include <cassert>

struct B {
    B (char const *) { throw std::runtime_error("B Error"); }
struct C {
    C (char const *) { throw std::runtime_error("C Error"); }
class A {
   B b_;
   C c_;
   enum TrackerType { NONE, ONE, TWO };
   A( TrackerType tracker = NONE)
   try    // A constructor try block.
     : b_((tracker = ONE, "hello")) // Can throw std::exception
     , c_((tracker = TWO, "world")) // Can throw std::exception
        assert(tracker == TWO);
        // ... constructor body ...
   catch (std::exception const & e)
        if (tracker == ONE) {
           std::cout << "B threw: " << e.what() << std::endl;
        else if (tracker == TWO) {
           std::cout << "C threw: " << e.what() << std::endl;

int main (void) 
    try {
        A a;
    catch (std::exception const & e) {
          std::cout << "Caught: " << e.what() << std::endl;
    return 0;       

The double parentheses is how the bracket operator is used to place in the assignment to the tracker. This idiom critically depends upon the constructor of B and C taking at least one parameter. If class B and C does not take parameters, then an adapter class needs to be written such that it the adapter class will accept a dummy parameter and calling the default parameters of B and C. Such an adapter can be written using More C++ Idioms/Parameterized Base Class idiom using mixin-from-below technique. The adapter class can also be completely encapsulated inside class A. In the consturctor of class A, the tracker parameter has a default value and therefore it does no bother the user.

Known UsesEdit

Related IdiomsEdit