TRY operations

In the implementation of function print_half we have seen the usage of the macro try:

OUTCOME_TRY (i, BigInt::fromString(text));

The OUTCOME_TRY macro uses C macro overloading to select between two implementations based on the number of input parameters. If there is exactly one input parameter i.e. without the i,, the control statement is roughly equivalent to:

auto&& __result = BigInt::fromString(text);
if (!__result)
  return __result.as_failure();

Where __result is a compile time generated unique name. If there are between two and eight parameters, this control statement is roughly equivalent to:

auto&& __result = BigInt::fromString(text);
if (!__result)
  return __result.as_failure();
auto&& i = __result.value();

So here i as the first C macro parameter is set to the value of any successful result. To prevent confounding of the C preprocessor, you should always wrap the function invocation in brackets. This is done throughout this tutorial.

Additionally, in GCC and Clang which provide an extension to C++ known as statement expressions it is possible to use an alternative macro: OUTCOME_TRYX, which is an expression. With the above macro, the above declaration of variable i can be rewritten to:

int i = OUTCOME_TRYX (BigInt::fromString(text));

This has an advantage that you can use it any place where you can put an expression, e.g., in “simple initialization”:

if (int i = OUTCOME_TRYX(BigInt::fromString(text)))

or in as a subexpression of a bigger full expression:

int ans = OUTCOME_TRYX(BigInt::fromString("1")) + OUTCOME_TRYX(BigInt::fromString("2"));

This macro makes use of a proprietary extension in GCC and clang and is not portable. The macro is not made available on unsupported compilers, so you can test for its presence using #ifdef OUTCOME_TRYX.

Macro OUTCOME_TRY does two things:

  1. It extracts a T from result<T> (or outcome<T>).
  2. It declares a dependency between statements: If the “tried” statement fails, the next statement is not executed.

When you are calling functions that return result<void> the first of the two things does not make sense. You then have to use macro OUTCOME_TRYV instead. Let’s use our function print_half:

outcome::result<void> test()
  OUTCOME_TRY ((print_half("2")));
  OUTCOME_TRY ((print_half("X")));
  OUTCOME_TRY ((print_half("4"))); // will not execute
  return outcome::success();
View this code on Github

The first statement will succeed. The second statement will “fail”, i.e. it will return an errored result. This will cause an immediate return and the subsequent statements will be skipped.