Part 7 - function signatures

In this part I’ll visit function signatures and describe what types your arguments should have.

It’s always better to look at an example. Let’s say we have a function that will say if red is dominant color in pixel from position x and y on screen.

bool is_red(int x, int y);
bool is_red(int& x, int& y);
bool is_red(const int& x, const int& y);
bool is_red(int* x, int* y);
bool is_red(const int* x, const int* y);
void is_red(int x, int y, bool& result);
// I could go on and on...

But we have to begin somewhere.

return type

In C it’s common for functions to return data via function arguments.

bool do_something(int arg1, int& value);
// returned bool is actually saying if function succeeded or not
// returned value is stored in "value" argument

This is due to pathetic limitations of C. In C++ we don’t have to do such things due to std::tuple deconstruction. This concludes that our function should return what we want to return => bool.

One may ask: “what if I want to return optional?” And that is a very good question. You can wrap your return type in std::optional. However, std::expected is soon to be added (as of writing this article) and provides even better way of returning optional values, because it allows to provide a “reason why call failed” well. It can easily be added to your project by using

auto optional_return(const bool& arg) {
    return arg ? std::optional<std::string>{"Value"} : std::nullopt;

argument types

Assuming we plan to pass object of type T as our argument, we can pass it as:

## summing up

(Yes, this whole graf is done using CSS only)