I created a class to add functionality to c++ std::string (std::basic_string actually), let's call it String.

I would like to know, what changes to do to String to boost it performance. Maybe having an internal std::basic_string member is not the best idea and it would be better to implement my own (that maybe would be re-inventing the wheel) or maybe the class itself is just not necessary and would be better just to write down functions under a namespace.

That being said, here is the code:


#pragma once

#include <string>

template <class CharType = wchar_t>
class String {
  String(const CharType*);

  std::size_t length();
  std::size_t size();
  std::size_t bytesize();

  std::string to_bytes();

  static std::basic_string<CharType> from_bytes(const char*);
  static std::basic_string<CharType> from_bytes(std::string);

  std::basic_string<CharType> std;


#include "String.h"

#include <iostream>
#include <string>

#include <locale>
#include <codecvt>

//  Default constructor with no parameters
template <class CharType>
String<CharType>::String() { }

//  Constructor for:
//    String<char> variable = "Hi there";
//    String<char16_t> variable = u"Hi there";
template <class CharType>
String<CharType>::String(const CharType* str): std(str) { }

//  Normal Constructor
//    String<char> variable("Hi there");
//    String<char16_t> variable(u"Hi there");
template <class CharType>
String<CharType>::String(std::basic_string<CharType> str): std(str) { }

//  Destructor
template <class CharType>
String<CharType>::~String() { }

//  Get the length of a string, it's not necessary to calculate it
//  since std::string already provides this functionality
template <class CharType>
std::size_t String<CharType>::length() {
  return std.length();

//  Now, in a string of `char` the length would be different of expected
//  as actually it counts special characters by its number of bytesize
//  with this functionality it counts those characters as one
//  Demonstration
//    std::char_traits<char>::length("Ni hao 你好")
//      ^ 13 since each chinese character counts as 3
//  String<char>("Ni hao 你好").length();
//      ^ 9 as expected
//  Default ::length() functionality can be accesed through `std` member
//  Example:
//    String<char>("Ni hao 你好").std.length();
//      ^ 13
template <>
std::size_t String<char>::length() {
  return String<char32_t>::from_bytes(std.c_str()).length();

//  Use already implemented functinality from std::string
template <class CharType>
std::size_t String<CharType>::size() {
  return std.size();

//  Convert string special character to bytes and count
template <class CharType>
std::size_t String<CharType>::bytesize() {
  return to_bytes().size();

//  Convert the actual string into byte representation
template <class CharType>
std::string String<CharType>::to_bytes() {
  std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8_utf16<CharType>, CharType> converter;

  return converter.to_bytes(std);

//  `char` doesn't need to convert, so return itself
template <> std::string String<char>::to_bytes() {
  return std;

//  Create a new wide characters string using a bytes string
template <class CharType>
std::basic_string<CharType> String<CharType>::from_bytes(const char* str) {
  std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8<CharType>, CharType> converter;

  return converter.from_bytes(str);

template <>
std::basic_string<char16_t> String<char16_t>::from_bytes(const char* str) {
  std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8_utf16<char16_t>, char16_t> converter;

  return converter.from_bytes(str);

//  When creating from bytes inside of a std::string
template <class CharType>
std::basic_string<CharType> String<CharType>::from_bytes(std::string str) {
  return String<CharType>::from_bytes(str.data());

//  Needs to be implemented to prevent errors between `std::codecvt` and `char`
template <>
std::basic_string<char> String<char>::from_bytes(const char* str) {
  return str;

//  Why would anyone include a .cpp file
template class String<char>;
template class String<wchar_t>;
template class String<char16_t>;
template class String<char32_t>;

Example of usage:

const char* text = "Hi there \u270c\u270c";

String<wchar_t> test_wchar = String<wchar_t>::from_bytes(text);
test_wchar.std // this member is std::basic_string<wchar_t>
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can use folly::fbstring for internal strings if performance matters to you. They also have utility functions. \$\endgroup\$
    – coyotte508
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:45
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand why you would write this class rather than derive a class from std::wstring and add your extra functions in there. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @coyotte508 Looks pretty good, I like working with projects made by the big ones (like Skia). Not really my coding style but I will try it out! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't quite see the point of this whole exercise. I recommend to simply use std::wstring, but provide overloaded (non-member) functions that compute the actual_length(std::basic_string<T>) etc. That way, you maintain the full advantage of all functionality provided by the std library (iterators etc) and only explicitly add the functionality you actually want. \$\endgroup\$
    – Walter
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


Shouldn't these declarations without definitions be sufficient?

String() = default;
~String() = default;

I would personally skip such not-strictly-necessary declarations completely but that is probably just a subjective opinion.

Would you like to enable using String as a base class? If so you might probably need to consider having virtual destructor.

Some methods could be const:

std::size_t length() const;
std::size_t size() const;
std::size_t bytesize() const;
std::string to_bytes() const;

I guess you know that calling std::string(const char*) ctor with nullptr is undefined. It might be tricky to spot it behind your interface:

std::basic_string<char> String<char>::from_bytes(const char* str) {
    return str;

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