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I tried to write a nullptr_t class based on the official proposal to be used in C++03 only. The only differences with the proposal are that we can compare two nullptr_t instances and that it is convertible to bool via an overload to void* to avoid unwanted behaviour such as int a = nullptr; for example. Here is the class:

const class nullptr_t

        // Return 0 for any class pointer
        template<typename T>
        operator T*() const
            return 0;

        // Return 0 for any member pointer
        template<typename T, typename U>
        operator T U::*() const
            return 0;

        // Used for bool conversion
        operator void*() const
            return 0;

        // Comparisons with nullptr
        bool operator==(const nullptr_t&) const
            return true;
        bool operator!=(const nullptr_t&) const
            return false;


        // Not allowed to get the address
        void operator&() const;

} nullptr = {};

I would like to know if there is any actual flaw in this completed implementation or if there is a difference in the behaviour compared to the C++11 type std::nullptr_t besides the namespace that I can't see.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

At the moment, your implementation allows

auto& p = nullptr;

This is forbidden in C++11 as nullptr is an rvalue. You also do not allow the following:

auto p = nullptr;
auto pp = &p;

While C++11 does allow it. You are also missing overloads for comparison operators.

A simple workaround would be to remove the operator& overload and add a macro:

#define nullptr (nullptr_t())

Also, I'd generally use struct X { ... } const x; instead of const struct X { ... } x;.

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Another thing I forgot at the time is that the standard specifies that sizeof(nullptr) shall be equal to sizeof(void*).

3.9.1 - Fundamental types A value of type std::nullptr_t is a null pointer constant (4.10). Such values participate in the pointer and the pointer to member conversions (4.10, 4.11). sizeof(std::nullptr_t) shall be equal to sizeof(void*).

So technically speaking, I should have added padding to my class:

class nullptr_t
    // To ensure the size
    // Should be correctly aligned
    void* padding;
    // ...
} const nullptr;
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