I posted this answer recently. OP in the StackOverflow question mentioned that it was for educational use, but I can imagine it being used as a debugging aid. Then I decided to improve it slightly and make it a compile-time function. Code:

#include <cassert>
#include <iostream>
#include <string_view>
#include <type_traits>
#include <vector>

#ifndef __GNUC__
static_assert(false, "GCC specific");
#endif // !__GNUC__

// Finds a character in a nul terminated string.
// Returns the last character if sought one isn't found.
// Notes:
// 1. Using this because std::strchr isn't constexpr.
// `PChr` is a separate typename instead of just using Chr* to allow `Chr*` and
// `Chr const*` as the pointer.
// 2. pstr shall not be nullptr.
template <typename PChr, typename Chr>
[[gnu::pure, gnu::nonnull, gnu::returns_nonnull, nodiscard]]
static constexpr auto*
constexpr_strchr(PChr pstr, Chr const value) noexcept {
    // PChr must be a raw pointer type because of gnu::nonnull and
    // gnu::returns_nonnull
    static_assert(std::is_pointer_v<PChr>, "PChr must be a raw pointer type");
    auto constexpr nul = Chr{};
    while (*pstr != value && *pstr != nul) {
    return pstr;

// Returns distance from ptr to the end of the array.
// Notes:
// 1. ptr shall not be nullptr
// 2. ptr shall be inside the array (arr)
template <typename T, auto size>
[[gnu::const, gnu::artificial, gnu::nonnull, gnu::always_inline, nodiscard]]
inline static constexpr auto
distance_to_end(const T (&arr)[size], T const* const ptr) noexcept {
    return arr + size - ptr;

// Returns type T as a string_view.
// Ex: std::string -> "std::string"
template <typename T>
[[gnu::const, nodiscard]]
static constexpr auto type_name_finder() noexcept {
    // __PRETTY_FUNCTION__ means "$FUNCTION_SIGNATURE [with T = $TYPE]".

    // +2 here to skip "= "
    auto const* const begin = constexpr_strchr(__PRETTY_FUNCTION__, '=') + 2;

    // -2 meaning up to "]\0"
    auto const size =
            static_cast<std::size_t>(distance_to_end(__PRETTY_FUNCTION__, begin) - 2);
    return std::string_view{begin, size};

// Inline string_view with the type name.
template <typename T>
inline constexpr auto type_name = type_name_finder<T>();

// Example Class
template <typename T1, typename T2>
class my_class {};

int main() {
    // Example use-case
    my_class<int&, std::vector<double>> my_arr[20];
    std::cout << type_name<decltype(my_arr)>;

Code uses __PRETTY_FUNCTION__ in GCC and Clang to get a variable's type as a string. I would appreciate any comments on correctness and readability. I used a lot of GCC specific attributes, because __PRETTY_FUNCTION__ is GCC specific and for this reason the code can't be portable anyway.


2 Answers 2


You're trying to reinvent the wheel... This specific challenge was discussed in answers to this SO question: Read HowardHinnant's long answer, then read the final, pretty, constexpr answer here. @Snowhawk quoted the code there - now you have some references and the build-up to the final form of the code.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I should have looked around before spending time on this thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 15:40
    // __PRETTY_FUNCTION__ means "$FUNCTION_SIGNATURE [with T = $TYPE]".

When you call type_name_finder(), the only part that changes in __PRETTY_FUNCTION__ is $TYPE. We can use this information to strip the static decoration surrounding that type.

template <typename T>
static constexpr auto type_name_finder() {
    std::string_view name, prefix, suffix;

#if defined(__clang__)
    name = __PRETTY_FUNCTION__;
    prefix = "auto type_name_finder() [T = ";
    suffix = "]";
#elif defined(__GNUC__)
    name = __PRETTY_FUNCTION__;
    prefix = "constexpr auto type_name_finder() [with T = ";
    suffix = "]";

    return name;
  • \$\begingroup\$ MSVC version won't work properly because for built in types auto __cdecl type_name_finder<class does not have the "class" word. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 8:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ std::string_view::remove_prefix is not noexcept. I don't think it's very appropriate to mark type_name_finder not-throwing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Besides that, your implementation is great (+1). Thanks for this much improved version! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ And what if the actual prefix or suffix isn't the one you expect? To me it looks like undefined behavior then. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 9:46

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