Callbacks in C++

parameterize method name - not C++ specific


Naive callback implementations either constrain the user to a particular name of a method being called or require the user to write extra code to adapt the callback to specific situations.


You are implementing a callback object where a single callback object will call back to a single method of a single object.


For the callback to be convenient to use, it must not require users to rewrite it or create additional adapters each time you use the callback. For the code to be widely useful, the callback must be able to adapt to many different client interfaces with different method names.


Pass the name of the method to invoke as an argument to the constructor or initializer of the callback. When the callback is invoked, use the method name to determine what method of the object to call.

forces resolved:

The user is not required to write any additional code to change the name of the method called. By passing in a method name, a wider variety of classes can be called back without having method name clashes or problems with trying to extend third party libraries.

design rational:

Many languages provide some way to pass the name of a method around and later invoke it. In C++, a member function pointer is used. In more dynamic object systems like Smalltalk or CORBA, strings containing the name of the method can be passed. By making the method name a parameter used to initialize each callback object, the callback objects will be suitable for a wider variety of uses.

There are some additional details to parameterizing method names in C++. C++ is a statically typed language, so not only the name of a method, but also the types of the arguments that the callback will pass and return must be specified. Further, in C++, the types of the arguments passed by the server to the callback must agree with the types of arguments the callback invokes the member function with. The callback can be templated to reflect the types of arguments it will pass. This templating is important to allow the callback to parameterize the full name of a method.

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Callbacks in C++
Copyright © 1996-2000 Paul Jakubik
Created: 26 July 1996. Last update: 26 November 2000.