C++ Using the std::string_view class



C++17 introduces std::string_view, which is simply a non-owning range of const chars, implementable as either a pair of pointers or a pointer and a length. It is a superior parameter type for functions that requires non-modifiable string data. Before C++17, there were three options for this:

void foo(std::string const& s);      // pre-C++17, single argument, could incur
                                     // allocation if caller's data was not in a string
                                     // (e.g. string literal or vector<char> )

void foo(const char* s, size_t len); // pre-C++17, two arguments, have to pass them
                                     // both everywhere

void foo(const char* s);             // pre-C++17, single argument, but need to call
                                     // strlen()

template <class StringT>
void foo(StringT const& s);          // pre-C++17, caller can pass arbitrary char data
                                     // provider, but now foo() has to live in a header

All of these can be replaced with:

void foo(std::string_view s);        // post-C++17, single argument, tighter coupling
                                     // zero copies regardless of how caller is storing
                                     // the data

Note that std::string_view cannot modify its underlying data.

string_view is useful when you want to avoid unnecessary copies.

It offers a useful subset of the functionality that std::string does, although some of the functions behave differently:

std::string str = "lllloooonnnngggg sssstttrrriiinnnggg"; //A really long string

//Bad way - 'string::substr' returns a new string (expensive if the string is long)
std::cout << str.substr(15, 10) << '\n';

//Good way - No copies are created!
std::string_view view = str;

// string_view::substr returns a new string_view
std::cout << view.substr(15, 10) << '\n';