Is it considered bad practice to pass string literals as char*, when an array and not a c-string is expected by the function? From my code:

char ConsoleIO::GetNextChar(string prompt, char* choices, int numChoices) {
    // Loop until valid input, or 10 times.
    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {

        char* buffer = new char[200];
        cin.getline(buffer, 200);
        char choice = tolower(buffer[0]);

        if (in(choice, choices, numChoices)) {
            return choice;

        WriteLine("Invalid choice.");
    // Just return the first choice as the default.
    return choices[0];

// In main:
char userChoice = ConsoleIO::GetNextChar("Make a selection: ", "234", 3);

It compiles, but is it bad practice?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How does this even compile? "234" is a const char[] which cannot be converted to a char *. You should at least get a warning. \$\endgroup\$
    – nwp
    Dec 6, 2015 at 11:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope, I don't even get a warning on this. My guess is that since it's not by-ref the constness can be ignored, and char[] and char* are really the same thing in c++, it allows me to pass a const char[] as a char*. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2015 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


When a C or C-related programmer sees char* they're going to naturally think of passing in a C-string. In my opinion, it's absolutely fine to do that. If you want to invoke an array of characters in C, I'd do it like this:

char ConsoleIO::GetNextChar(string prompt, char[] choices, int numChoices)

But, you're in C++ so you should use a std::vector<char> and then don't pass in numChoices, like this:

char ConsoleIO::GetNextChar(string prompt, std::vector<char> const& choices)

Also, you have a bug. You aren't ever deleteing buffer, which means it's leaking.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the input, especially on the memory leak. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2015 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest use of std::vector<char> const& choices. \$\endgroup\$
    – R Sahu
    Dec 6, 2015 at 8:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RSahu Excellent point! I'll update it. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2015 at 15:33

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