TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Aug 98 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 8
Column Tag: From The Factory Floor

The New C++ Standard: Locales

by by Howard Hinnant and Dave Mark, ©1998 by Metrowerks, Inc., all rights reserved.

In last month's column, we took our first pass at the Final Draft International Standard for C++. Specifically, we covered the topic of namespaces. In this month's column, Howard Hinnant is back, and will take us through the concepts behind C++ locales.

Howard Hinnant is a software engineer on the MSL team at Metrowerks, and is responsible for the C++ and EC++ libraries. Howard is a refugee from the aerospace industry where FORTRAN still rules. He has extensive experience in scientific computing including C++ implementations of linear algebra, finite difference and finite element solvers.

Dave: What is a C++ locale and why would I want to use one?

Howard: A locale is a C++ class in the standard library that allows you to easily customize I/O so that users of your software feel at home, wherever that home may be. For example, let's say you're writing some high finance report software. This stuff is for executives, and you know how much they like their formatting. So when you print out ten thousand bucks, it has to look like:

$10,000.00

Ok, so you've put 9 months into this software, and your boss is really pleased with it. In fact, he/she likes it so much, they want to use it for the offices world wide. Except that the formatting needs to be customized for each country... (you did plan for this didn't you!). The French executives might want to see:

10.000,00 Franc

And the German executives might want to see:

10.000,00 Mark

Does this mean you need seperate formatting routines for every country? No. This is precisely what locale was meant to solve. In fact, with locale it is not difficult to have several formats current at the same time (think international client/server).

Dave: But wait a minute, US$10,000 is not equivalent to 10.000,00 German Marks!

Howard: Good point. An important thing to understand about locale is that it only helps you with formatting and I/O. Any calculations (like exchange rates) are totally up to you. This all might become more clear with a specific example. Let's say you wrote a class called Money in your killer app that looked something like:

class Money
{
public:
  Money(double amount) : amount_(100*amount) {}
  double to_double() const {return amount_;}
private:
  double amount_;
};

std::ostream& operator<< (std::ostream& os,
                        const Money& amount);

Your top level code might look like:

Money amount; // Your Money class
is >> amount; // input from stream (perhaps from US)
os << amount; // output to stream (perhaps to France)

Dave: How do these streams know which country to format for? Where is the formatting logic?

Howard: You (the programmer) do have to do some more work here. In the previous example, you have to "imbue" each stream with a locale that knows how to format your Money.

This might look like:

std::locale US_Locale(...);
is.imbue(US_Locale);
std::locale Fr_Locale(...);
os.imbue(Fr_Locale);

Dave: The "...": Is this an exercise left to the reader?

Howard: Always hated those! A locale consists of a collection of facets. Each facet has a specialized responsibility. One facet knows how to format money. We need to create a locale with a money-formatting-facet that knows how we want our Money formatted. Here is how you might write a French franc formatter:

class Fr_Moneypunct : public std::moneypunct<char, false>
{
protected:
 virtual char do_decimal_point() const {return ',';}
 virtual char do_thousands_sep() const {return '.';}
 virtual std::string do_curr_symbol() const
                          {return "Franc";}
 virtual pattern do_pos_format() const {
  pattern result = {{char(sign), char(value), char(space), 
char(symbol)}};
  return result;
 }
 virtual pattern do_neg_format() const {
  pattern result = {{char(sign), char(value), char(space), 
char(symbol)}};
  return result;
 }
};

Then you can install it in a locale with:

std::locale Fr_Locale(std::locale(), new Fr_Moneypunct);

That ought to do it. Ok, I know it may look a little unfamiliar, but you've got to admit, it's not much code.

Dave: Agreed. How about a little more detail?

Howard: The base class std::moneypunct is a standard facet. Its default behavior is to format US currency. However all of this behavior lives under virtual methods that are overridable. The behaviors which are most likely to be changed, are the most easily overridable. For example, changing the decimal point character to ',' is demonstrated above with the do_decimal_point method.

The do_pos_format and do_neg_format methods have the responsibility for dictating the relative position of the sign, value and currency symbols. The default order is "symbol, sign, none, value". A "none" means that there may be zero or more spaces. A "space" means that there are one or more spaces. In our example, it was not enough to change the currency symbol from "$" to "Franc", we also wanted it to be printed after the amount, instead of before. That is why we changed the pattern order to "sign, value, space, symbol".

There is a do_negative_sign() method that returns a string. The first character of this string gets put in the "sign" spot designated by the pattern returned from do_neg_format(). If the string has more than one character, the remaining characters get put at the end of the entire formatting sequence. Thus if do_negative_sign() returns "()", then negative amounts can be formatted as:

(10.000,00 Franc)

Dave: There's that 10.000,00 Franc again. Where does the exchange rate go in?

Howard: Let's take a closer look at our Money class. We could put the exchange logic as a method in there with a method called us_to_france:

class Money
{
public:
  Money(double amount) : amount_(100*amount) {}
  Money& us_to_france() {amount_ /= .1685; return *this;}
  double to_double() const {return amount_;}
private:
  double amount_;
};

So now, assuming you had read in US $10,000.00, you might print a French version like:

os << amount.us_to_france();

and "59.347,18 Franc" will be printed.

I'm going to throw my standard disclaimer in here: The Money class presented here is just to demo locale. I really haven't put any serious design thought into Money itself.

Dave: Ok, so we've created a customized locale, with a customized facet. How does our Money class make use of this machinery?

Howard: The work we've done so far will affect both input and output. To keep this discussion short, let's just look at the output routine for our example Money class:

std::ostream&
operator<< (std::ostream& os, const Money& amount)
{
  using namespace std;
  ostream::sentry ok(os);
  if (ok) 
  {
    const money_put<char>& fmt = use_facet<money_put<char> > (os.getloc());
    ios_base::fmtflags saveflags = os.flags();
    showbase(os);
    if (fmt.put(os, false, os, os.fill(), amount.to_double()).failed())
      os.setstate(ios_base::badbit);
    os.flags(saveflags);
  }
  return os;
}

The bad news is that this code may look strange to you. The good news is that it is pretty much boiler plate code. Most locale-savey output routines you write will look similar to this.

The first line with the sentry animal prepares the stream for output, and ensures that the stream is in good shape. Next the ostream is queried for its locale (which you earlier imbued). Then the locale is searched for its money_put facet via the global method use_facet. The money_put facet is a standard facet that will use your Fr_Moneypunct class through the magic of virtual functions. Finally, you simply ask the money_put facet to "put" your Money on the ostream. money_put knows how to handle amounts expressed as doubles or strings, so you must be able to convert to one of those. That is why the to_double method has been part of the Money class from the beginning.

Note that I've specialized Money to only output to narrow (char) streams. We could have easily templated everything on the character type in order to handle both narrow and wide streams. This is in fact what the standard library does.

Dave: Can you give me some other possibilities for locale?

Howard: I think space will prohibit us from discussing all the facets in this much detail, but I'll try to hit some highlights.

A collate facet is available for sorting characters. The default behavior is the case sensitive stuff you've come to know and love.

A collection of ctype facets wrap the functionality found in the C header <ctype.h> (and <wctype.h>).

Numeric facets control the formatting of both integers and floating point numbers (input and output). There are several similarities here with the monetary facets described above, including the ability to specify decimal point characters and thousands seperators.

A collection of time facets are available to help you format times and dates. If you need to read or write "janvier" instead of "January", you can do it here. CodeWarrior offers a timepunct facet similar to monepunct and numpunct. This facet is non-standard, but so common as to have become a defacto standard. This makes it much easier to customize the names of the days of the week, or the names of the months.

Dave: locale sounds both powerful and flexible. But I can still safely ignore it if I want to right?

Howard: Yes, the default locale will give you the traditional formatting that we are all accustomed to.

 
AAPL
$100.53
Apple Inc.
+1.37
MSFT
$45.33
Microsoft Corpora
+0.22
GOOG
$586.86
Google Inc.
+4.70

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Apple Motion 5.1.2 - Create and customiz...
Apple Motion is designed for video editors, Motion 5 lets you customize Final Cut Pro titles, transitions, and effects. Or create your own dazzling animations in 2D or 3D space, with real-time... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.39 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
PopChar X 6.6 - Floating window shows av...
PopChar X helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to access any font's special characters. Expanded... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.2 - Install Mac ap...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
PDFpenPro 6.3.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit f...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Create... Read more
PDFpen 6.3.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs wi...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10 DP6 - Developer Prev...
Note: This is a Developer Preview. You must be a registered Apple Mac Developer to download this update. You can also sign up for the free OS X Beta Program to download and preview public beta... Read more
Flavours 1.1.15 - Create and apply theme...
Flavours is a Mac application that allow users to create, apply and share beautifully designed themes. Classy Give your Mac a gorgeous new look by applying delicious themes! Easy Unleash your... Read more
EtreCheck 1.9.14 - For troubleshooting y...
EtreCheck is a simple little app to display the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support... Read more
iFFmpeg 4.5 - Convert multimedia files b...
iFFmpeg is a graphical front-end for FFmpeg, a command-line tool used to convert multimedia files between formats. The command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Go to Bed – An Interview With Touchfight...
Touchfight Games is an exciting new indie studio that was co-formed between game journalist and author Nathan Meunier, artist Leonard Kenyon, and programmer Jon Kenyon. Their debut game Go To Bed will be released this fall, and with all the... | Read more »
Assault Vector Review
Assault Vector Review By Rob Thomas on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE STRATEGYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While this hex-based warp ride is fine in theory, Assault Vector is a bit too simple to be... | Read more »
Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer has Taken the App...
Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer has Taken the App Store by Storm Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad | Read more »
It Came from Canada: Galaxy Dash
With its use of well-established tropes like endless flying and sci-fi space shooting, the upcoming Galaxy Dash: Race to the Outer Run most likely won’t confound expectations. However, with its robust amount of opportunities for fun player... | Read more »
PromptSmart Review
PromptSmart Review By Jennifer Allen on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SNAPPY SPEECHGIVINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Offering you a teleprompter in your pocket, PromptSmart is immensely helpful for those who do... | Read more »
The Firm (Games)
The Firm 1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1 (iTunes) Description: RELEASE SPECIAL SALE 50%! Welcome to THE FIRM, Your profil retained our full consideration and we have the pleasure to inform you that your... | Read more »
They Need To Be Fed 3 (Games)
They Need To Be Fed 3 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: 360 degree gravity platforming is back! Run, jump, collect, avoid enemies and feed yourself to the monster at the... | Read more »
Who Wore it Best? Phantom Flower vs. And...
Who Wore it Best? takes a break from all the bloodshed to check out two decidedly tranquil and nature-loving puzzles games: Phantom Flower and And Then it Rained. [ Who Wore it Best? Phantom Flower vs. And Then it Rained is a post from... | Read more »
Sentinel 4: Dark Star Review
Sentinel 4: Dark Star Review By Jennifer Allen on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STURDY TOWER DEFENSEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad After 4 years, the latest entry to the Sentinel series is here. It’s not quite as... | Read more »
TrashEver2 - You can move your selected...
TrashEver2 - You can move your selected notes to trash box. 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: TrashEver is an application only for throwing away the note of Evernote... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Razer Taipan Mouse For Gamers And Non-Gamers...
If you’re a serious gamer on either Mac or Windows PCs, a serious gaming mouse is a necessity for first-tier performance. However, even if like me you’re not much of a gamer, there’s still a strong... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1899,...
Adorama has the new 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Mid-Size Tablet Shootout Posted: iPad mini wi...
I ‘m curious about how many iPads Apple is actually selling these days. It’s been widely rumored and anticipated that new models with A8 SoCs, 2 GB of RAM, 8 megapixel cameras, and fingerprint... Read more
The 15 Biggest iPad Air Problems And How To A...
What’s this? Fifteen “biggest” problems with the iPad Air? Does that mean there are a lot of smaller problems as well? Say it isn’t so! My old iPad 2 has manifested no hardware problems in three... Read more
TYLT Syncable-Duo, 2-in-1 USB Cable With Appl...
TYLT has introduced the Syncable-Duo, a universal cable solution for charging and syncing data to smartphones and tablets. The Syncable-Duo eliminates the need for multiple cables by incorporating... Read more
Save up to $140 off MSRP with Apple refurbish...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549, save $50
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Chromebooks Are Actually Sometimes A Better C...
Mac360′s Kate MacKenzie notes that when Steve Jobs announced the post-PC era, he was assuming that the dominant post-PC device would be the iPad he was unveiling, or another Apple product like the... Read more
Files-Finder Edition 1.0 app Brings Finder/Ex...
Appsicum’s Files Finder App is designed for iPad users who miss the functionality of the OS X Finder and Windows’ Explorer on their tablet. Files-Finder Edition App is a complete tool having rich... Read more
Apple and Samsung Both Face Growth Declines I...
As the tablet PC market matures and growth slows, the dominance of market leaders Apple and Samsung is also weakening, according to the latest NPD DisplaySearch Monthly Tablet PC Panel Shipment... Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's your job, as a Store Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Being a Business Manager at an Apple Store means you're the catalyst for businesses to discover and leverage the power, ease, and flexibility of Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.