The new Visual C++ 2017, currently in release candidate phase, provides a series of updates and fixes to both the C++ compiler and the standard library. A comprehensive list of these improvements is available at What’s New for Visual C++ in Visual Studio 2017 RC.

In this article, I want to shortly look at the new standard library features from VC++ 2017.

  • std::any (available in header <any>) is a class that represents a type-safe container that can hold the value of any copy-constructible object. To read the value stored in an any variable you need to use the non-member function std::any_cast.

  • std::optional (available in header <optional>) is a class template that may or may not contain a value any moment in time. If it contains a value, it is allocated as part of the optional object, and therefore does not incur any memory overhead.

  • std::variant (available in header <variant>) is a class template that represents a type-safe union. A variant can hold any number of alternatives, but they cannot be of type reference, array or void. The first alternative must be default constructible, because variants are default constructible and a default-constructed variant object contains a value of its first alternative. If the first alternative is not default-constructible, std::monostate (an empty, default-constructible class) can be used for that purpose. If it contains a value, it is allocated as part of the variant object, and therefore does not incur any memory overhead.

  • std::basic_string_view (available in header <string_view>) is a class template that represents a view of a contigous sequence of characters (defined by a pointer to the start of the sequence and a count). Several type aliases are available:

    basic_string_view has an interface almost identical to basic_string so that switching from the later is as simple as possible. A typical useage of this class template is for function parameters as a replacement for constant references to basic_string.

Additional new supported C++17 standard library features are:

  • std::apply is a function template that invokes a specified callable object with a tuple of arguments.
  • std::make_from_tuple is a function template that creates an object by invocking its constructor with the members of a specified tuple.

To have all these available the /std::c++latest compiler switch must be used. This can be also set from the project properties, at C/C++ > Language > C++ Language Support.

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So far, C#, unlike C++, did not support optional arguments. For instance, suppose you need a function to print log a message, that can add a new line or not after writing the message. Most of the times you want a new line, so you don’t want to specify that for most of the calls. Until now, the only possibility was using overloaded functions, with different parameters.

C# 4.0, that will be released with Visual Studio 2010, and is for now available with the Visual Studio 2010 CTP, supports, just like C++, optional arguments. So instead of using overloaded functions, you can specify a default value for a parameter. When doing the call, if you don’t provide a value for the argument, the default one will be used.

The Logger class below is identical from the functionality point of view with the one above. (The previous Main() function doesn’t have to change.)

The only restriction is that optional parameters have to appear in the function after all required parameters. In other words, this is not legal:

Considering this implementation of foo

the following calls can be made:

But this is not all. C# 4.0 brings another feature: named parameters (and this does not exist in C++). It means that when you make a call, you can specify an argument by its name, not by position. In this case you use the parameter’s name followed by ‘:’ and the value. Here are several examples:

Of course, this can be used regardless the function has optional parameters or not. However, I would not use this feature for anything else than specifying an optional parameter when I would have to first suply values for other several optional parameters. In other words:

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