Bonus operations for C++/WinRT iterators: The IIterable<T>, and C++/WinRT collections

Raymond Chen


Last time, we saw that C++/WinRT provides a few bonus operators to the IIterator<T> in order to make it work a little bit more smoothly with the C++ standard library.

Today we’re going to look at IIterable<T>, which is an interface that says “You can get an iterator from me.”

These Windows Runtime interfaces correspond to analogous concepts in many programming languages.

C++/WinRT IIterable<T> IIterator<T>
iterator = o.First();
for (auto&& v : o) ...
C++ begin/end iterator
iterator = begin(o);
for (auto&& v : o) ...
C# IEnumerable<T> IEnumerator<T>
enumerator = o.GetEnumerator();
foreach (var v in o) ...
Java Iterable<T> Iterator<T>
iterator = enumerable.iterator();
for (var v : o) ...
JavaScript @@iterator (unnamed)
iterator = o[Symbol.iterator]();
for (v in o) ...

As I noted in the table above, these iterators are designed primarily for use by ranged for statements.

for (auto&& value : collection)
    /* do something with value */

They can also be used in more general algorithms:

std::vector<int> to_vector(IIterable<int> const& collection)
  std::vector<int> v;
  std::copy(begin(collection), end(collection), std::back_inserter(v));
  return v;

Here’s a peek behind the scenes: For collections which support a GetAt method (such as IVector, IVectorView, and IBindableVector), this is implemented by an internal fast_iterator, and the expansion of the ranged for loop comes out like this:

auto&& range = collection;
auto size = range.Size();
for (uint32_t index = 0; index < size; ++index)
  auto&& value = range.GetAt(index);
  /* do something with value */

The temporary range is part of the ranged for statement. There are some pre-existing subtleties here, which I leave you to learn about.

For collections which are not indexable, but which are nevertheless iterable, the code falls back to the traditional Iterator-based loop:

for (auto iterator = as_cpp_iterator(collection.First()); iterator; ++iterator)
  auto&& value = *iterator;
  /* do something with value */

That version takes advantage of iterator overloads we saw last time.

But wait, we’re not done yet. There’s a little gotcha here that we’ll look at next time.

1 comment

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    Neil Rashbrook

    JavaScript iteration is duck typed, so an iterator is any object with a next method that produces an iteration result while an iterable is any object with with a @@iterable method that returns an iterator.