CFixedStringT: Example of a Custom String Manager


The ATL library implements one example of a custom string manager used by class CFixedStringT, called CFixedStringMgr. CFixedStringT is derived from CStringT and implements a string that allocates its character data as part of the CFixedStringT object itself as long as the string is less than the length specified by the t_nChars template parameter of CFixedStringT. With this approach, the string does not need the heap at all, unless the length of the string grows beyond the size of the fixed buffer. Because CFixedStringT does not always use a heap to allocate its string data, it cannot use CAtlStringMgr as its string manager. It uses a custom string manager (CFixedStringMgr), implementing the IAtlStringMgr interface. This interface is discussed in Implementation of a Custom String Manager (Advanced Method).

The constructor for CFixedStringMgr takes three parameters:

  • pData: A pointer to the fixed CStringData structure to be used.

  • nChars: The maximum number of characters the CStringData structure can hold.

  • pMgr: A pointer to the IAtlStringMgr interface of a "backup string manager."

The constructor stores the values of pData and pMgr in their respective member variables (m_pData and m_pMgr). It then sets the length of the buffer to zero, the available length equal to the maximum size of the fixed buffer, and the reference count to –1. The reference count value indicates the buffer is locked and to use this instance of CFixedStringMgr as the string manager.

Marking the buffer as locked prevents other CStringT instances from holding a shared reference to the buffer. If other CStringT instances were allowed to share the buffer it would be possible for the buffer contained by CFixedStringT to be deleted while other strings were still using the buffer.

CFixedStringMgr is a full implementation of the IAtlStringMgr interface. The implementation of each method is discussed separately.

The implementation of CFixedStringMgr::Allocate first checks to see if the requested size of the string is less than or equal to the size of the fixed buffer (stored in the m_pData member). If the fixed buffer is large enough, CFixedStringMgr locks the fixed buffer with a length of zero. As long as the string length does not grow beyond the size of the fixed buffer, CStringT will not have to reallocate the buffer.

If the requested size of the string is greater than the fixed buffer CFixedStringMgr forwards the request to the backup string manager. The backup string manager is presumed to allocate the buffer from the heap. However, before returning this buffer CFixedStringMgr locks the buffer and replaces the buffer's string manager pointer with a pointer to the CFixedStringMgr object. This ensures that attempts to reallocate or free the buffer by CStringT will call into CFixedStringMgr.

The implementation of CFixedStringMgr::ReAllocate is very similar to its implementation of Allocate.

If the buffer being reallocated is the fixed buffer and the requested buffer size is smaller than the fixed buffer, no allocation is done. However, if the buffer being reallocated is not the fixed buffer, it must be a buffer allocated with the backup manager. In this case the backup manager is used to reallocate the buffer.

If the buffer being reallocated is the fixed buffer and the new buffer size is too large to fit within the fixed buffer, CFixedStringMgr allocates a new buffer using the backup manager. The contents of the fixed buffer are then copied into the new buffer.

The implementation of CFixedStringMgr::Free follows the same pattern as Allocate and ReAllocate. If the buffer being freed is the fixed buffer, the method sets it to a zero-length locked buffer. If the buffer being freed was allocated with the backup manager, CFixedStringMgr uses the backup manager to free it.

The implementation of CFixedStringMgr::Clone always returns a pointer to the backup manager rather than the CFixedStringMgr itself. This happens because every instance of CFixedStringMgr can only be associated with a single instance of CStringT. Any other instances of CStringT trying to clone the manager should get the backup manager instead. This is because the backup manager supports being shared.

The implementation of CFixedStringMgr::GetNilString returns the fixed buffer. Because of the one-on-one correspondence of CFixedStringMgr and CStringT, a given instance of CStringT never uses more than one buffer at a time. Therefore, a nil string and a real string buffer are never needed at the same time.

Whenever the fixed buffer is not in use, CFixedStringMgr ensures that it is initialized with a zero length. This allows it to be used as the nil string. As an added bonus, the nAllocLength member of the fixed buffer is always set to the full size of the fixed buffer. This means that CStringT can grow the string without calling IAtlStringMgr::Reallocate, even for the nil string.

Header: cstringt.h

Memory Management with CStringT