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Iterator

Iterator in C++

Iterator is a behavioral design pattern that allows sequential traversal through a complex data structure without exposing its internal details.

Thanks to the Iterator, clients can go over elements of different collections in a similar fashion using a single iterator interface.

Usage of the pattern in C++

Complexity:

Popularity:

Usage examples: The pattern is very common in C++ code. Many frameworks and libraries use it to provide a standard way for traversing their collections.

Identification: Iterator is easy to recognize by the navigation methods (such as next, previous and others). Client code that uses iterators might not have direct access to the collection being traversed.

Conceptual Example

This example illustrates the structure of the Iterator design pattern. It focuses on answering these questions:

  • What classes does it consist of?
  • What roles do these classes play?
  • In what way the elements of the pattern are related?

main.cc: Conceptual Example

/**
 * Iterator Design Pattern
 *
 * Intent: Lets you traverse elements of a collection without exposing its
 * underlying representation (list, stack, tree, etc.).
 */

#include <iostream>
#include <string>
#include <vector>

/**
 * C++ has its own implementation of iterator that works with a different
 * generics containers defined by the standard library.
 */

template <typename T, typename U>
class Iterator {
 public:
  typedef typename std::vector<T>::iterator iter_type;
  Iterator(U *p_data, bool reverse = false) : m_p_data_(p_data) {
    m_it_ = m_p_data_->m_data_.begin();
  }

  void First() {
    m_it_ = m_p_data_->m_data_.begin();
  }

  void Next() {
    m_it_++;
  }

  bool IsDone() {
    return (m_it_ == m_p_data_->m_data_.end());
  }

  iter_type Current() {
    return m_it_;
  }

 private:
  U *m_p_data_;
  iter_type m_it_;
};

/**
 * Generic Collections/Containers provides one or several methods for retrieving
 * fresh iterator instances, compatible with the collection class.
 */

template <class T>
class Container {
  friend class Iterator<T, Container>;

 public:
  void Add(T a) {
    m_data_.push_back(a);
  }

  Iterator<T, Container> *CreateIterator() {
    return new Iterator<T, Container>(this);
  }

 private:
  std::vector<T> m_data_;
};

class Data {
 public:
  Data(int a = 0) : m_data_(a) {}

  void set_data(int a) {
    m_data_ = a;
  }

  int data() {
    return m_data_;
  }

 private:
  int m_data_;
};

/**
 * The client code may or may not know about the Concrete Iterator or Collection
 * classes, for this implementation the container is generic so you can used
 * with an int or with a custom class.
 */
void ClientCode() {
  std::cout << "________________Iterator with int______________________________________" << std::endl;
  Container<int> cont;

  for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    cont.Add(i);
  }

  Iterator<int, Container<int>> *it = cont.CreateIterator();
  for (it->First(); !it->IsDone(); it->Next()) {
    std::cout << *it->Current() << std::endl;
  }

  Container<Data> cont2;
  Data a(100), b(1000), c(10000);
  cont2.Add(a);
  cont2.Add(b);
  cont2.Add(c);

  std::cout << "________________Iterator with custom Class______________________________" << std::endl;
  Iterator<Data, Container<Data>> *it2 = cont2.CreateIterator();
  for (it2->First(); !it2->IsDone(); it2->Next()) {
    std::cout << it2->Current()->data() << std::endl;
  }
}

int main() {
  ClientCode();
  return 0;
}

Output.txt: Execution result

________________Iterator with int______________________________________
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
________________Iterator with custom Class______________________________
100
1000
10000

Iterator in Other Languages

Design Patterns: Iterator in Java Design Patterns: Iterator in C# Design Patterns: Iterator in PHP Design Patterns: Iterator in Python Design Patterns: Iterator in Ruby Design Patterns: Iterator in Swift Design Patterns: Iterator in TypeScript