Compaq C++ User Documentation


Compaq C++

Compaq C++
Using Compaq C++ for Tru64 UNIX and Linux Alpha

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Chapter 5
Using Templates

The C++ template instantiation model includes the following features:

  • Automatic template instantiation occurs at compile time. Necessary templates are instantiated automatically by the compilation of the source file that needs them and has access to the template definitions.
  • During automatic template instantiation, instantiations are written into the repository ( ./cxx_repository ) as object files. Compilation of instantiations in no longer done at link time.
  • For automatic instantiation, the compiler does not require that template declarations and definitions appear in header files.
  • Several manual template instantiation pragmas are availble.

5.1 Overview

A C++ template is a framework for defining a set of classes or functions. The process of instantiation creates a particular class or function of the set by resolving the C++ template with a group of arguments that are themselves types or values. For example:

template <class T> class Array { 
    T *data; 
    int size; 
    T &operator[](int); 

The code in this example declares a C++ class template named Array that has two data members named data and size and one subscript operator member function. Array<int> instantiates Array with type int . This instantiation generates the following class definition:

class Array { 
    int *data; 
    int size; 
    int &operator[](int); 

The compiler supports instantiation of C++ class, function, and static data member templates. The following sections describe the alternative methods available for instantiating templates: automatic or manual instantiation.

5.2 Automatic Template Instantiation

In automatic template instantiation mode, the compiler attempts to instantiate every referenced template at compile time. For automatic instantiation to work, at least one compilation that references a template function must be able to find the template definition. There is no restriction on where a template can be declared or defined, as long as the definition is visible to the compilation unit. You can use implicit inclusion to find it.

The compiler writes instantiation object files to a directory called the repository; file names are based on the names of the entities being instantiated. The default repository is ./cxx_repository .

5.2.1 Specifying Alternate Repositories

You can use the -ptr command-line option to specify one or more alternate repository directories. The first repository named is the read-write repository into which the compiler writes instantiation objects when processing. At link time, all repositories are read only. There is one object file in the repository for each instantiated template function, for each instantiated static data member, and for each virtual table required for virtual functions.

When the program is linked, the linker searches the repositories for needed template instantiations.

5.2.2 Reducing Compilation Time with the -ttimestamp Option

To keep instantiations up to date, the compiler always instantiates templates by default, even if the required template already exists in the respository. However, in environments that share many templates among many sources, this process can increase compilation time.

In these environments, users can specify the -ttimestamp option to override the default behavior and thereby reduce compilation time. This option causes the compiler to create a timestamp file named TIMESTAMP in the repository. Thereafter, instantiations are added or regenerated only if needed; that is, if they do not alreay exist, or if existing ones are older than the timestamp.

The -ttimestamp option is immediately useful when building a system from scratch, starting with an empty repository. It avoids reinstantiating unchanged code and is totally safe, because all required instantiations are generated and up to date.

Incremental application building is normally done without this option, so that new instantiations overwrite earlier ones as sources are recompiled.

Although the -ttimestamp option is intended mainly for initial builds, you can use it for ongoing development in a structured way. Because the compiler creates a new timestamp file only if one does not already exist, you must remove or modify any existing timestamp file before making changes to your code base. This procedure ensures that all subsequent compilations generate up-to-date instantiations. In the following example, the file is removed before and immediately after the compilation of a.cxx , b.cxx , and c.cxx .

rm cxx_repository/TIMESTAMP 
cxx -ttimestamp -c a.cxx 
cxx -ttimestamp -c b.cxx 
cxx -ttimestamp -c c.cxx 
rm cxx_repository/TIMESTAMP 

The compiler generates all instantiations needed by a.cxx , b.cxx , and a.cxx only once, as opposed to the default scheme, in which it would generate them once for each module that used the instantiations.

Specifying the -ptv option causes the compiler to emit an informational message naming the instantiation and repository file being skipped in this mode.

5.3 Implicit Inclusion

When implicit inclusion is enabled, the compiler assumes that if it needs a definition to instantiate a template entity declared in a .h or .hxx file, it can implicitly include the corresponding implementation file to obtain the source code for the definition.

If a template entity ABC::f is declared in file xyz.h , and if an instantiation of ABC::f is required in a compilation but no definition of ABC::f appears in the source code, the compiler checks whether a file xyz.cxx exists. If it does, the compiler processes it as if it were included at the end of the main source file.

When looking for a template definition, the compiler uses the following lookup order:

  1. If the #include name for the header file containing the template declaration is specified with an absolute path name, look only in the directory specified by the path name.
  2. If the #include for the header file containing the template declaration is specified with a relative path name, take the following action:
    • If the header file name is specified with double quotation marks (" ") and the -nocurrent_include option was not specified, append the relative path name to the directory containing the source file and search for files with the appropriate suffixes.
    • Otherwise, append the relative path name to all the -I directories and look in those resulting directories for files with the appropriate suffixes.

For source files, the appropriate suffixes are, in order of preference: .cxx , .CXX , .C , .cc , .CC , .cpp , and .c , or as defined by the -ptsuf command-line option.

The compiler ignores any file extension that does not begin with a dot (.).

The -ptsuf command-line option allows the user to explicitly define the file extensions to be used with implicit inclusion. For example:

 cxx -ptsuf ".CPP.CC" file.cxx 

This command searches for template definition files with the extensions .CPP and .CC .

5.3.1 Compiling Programs with Automatic Instantiation

In general, the use of automatic template instantiation is transparent to the user. Automatic template instantiation is enabled by default. The following commands are equivalent:

 cxx file.cxx 
 cxx -pt file.cxx 
 cxx -pt -ptr ./cxx_repository file.cxx 

These commands:

  • Cause the compilation of the file file.cxx
  • Create any instantiations that are required whose definitions are visible to the compiler
  • Create an executable, a.out , by linking together the generated object file and any instantiations required from the repository

You can specify the repository explicitly with the -ptr switch. For example:

 cxx -pt -ptr /project/repository -c file.cxx 

This command compiles file.cxx , produces a file.o in the current directory, and puts instantiated template files in the directory /project/repository .

The compiler attempts to instantiate templates at compile time; therefore, any specialization used in the program must be declared in each file in which the specialization is referenced, to prevent the instantiation of the overridden template function.

If a template instantiation refers to a static function, that function is created as an external entry point in the primary object file, and the instantiation object file in the repository then refers to this __STF function.

If the template instantiation is linked into an application that does not have the original primary object file, an unresolved reference to the __STF function occurs. If this happens, recompile an object file that regenerates the instantiation or use manual instantiation to reinstantiate the template.

5.3.2 Linking Programs with Automatic Instantiation

When all source files are compiled and linked in the same step, the operation is transparent. For example, the following command compiles a.cxx and b.cxx , writes instantiations to ./cxx_repository , and links the application using the object files and the instantiations from ./cxx_repository :

 cxx a.cxx b.cxx 

When compiling and linking an application in separate steps, the repositories that were used during the compilation step must be used in the link step as well. For example, the following command uses ./cxx_repository implicitly in both the compile and link step:

 cxx -c a.cxx b.cxx 
 cxx a.o b.o 

If a repository is explicitly named in the compile step, then it must also be named in the link step. For example:

 cxx -c -ptr my_repository a.cxx b.cxx 
 cxx -ptr my_repository a.o b.o 

It is easiest if the compilation of all sources use the same repository:

 cxx -c -ptr my_repository a.cxx 
 cxx -c -ptr my_repository b.cxx 
 cxx -ptr my_repository a.o b.o 

If different repositories are used for the compilation of the sources, then all repositories must by specified on the link step, as follows:

 cxx -c -ptr repository1 a.cxx 
 cxx -c -ptr repository2 b.cxx 
 cxx -ptr repository1 -ptr repository2 a.o b.o 

At link time, the specified repositories are searched in the order given, to find the required instantiations. If one of the repositories used is the default repository, it must be explicitly specified on the link step if more than one repository is used, as follows:

 cxx -c  a.cxx 
 cxx -c -ptr repository2 b.cxx 
 cxx -ptr ./cxx_repository -ptr repository2 a.o b.o 

It is usually much easier and safer to use a single repository, because the same instantiations could potentially be present in multiple repositories, and it is possible to update some but not all repositories when changes are made to templates.

The link phase of cxx processes object files so that all the external symbol references are resolved. The objects are linked together in the following order:

  1. The order in which object files and object libraries are specified on the command line.
  2. If -nopt is specified, stop.
  3. For each unresolved external, search the repositories in the order specified on the command line for a file that contains that external. If such a file is found, add it at the top of the list of object files being searched.
  4. Link again and repeat Step 3 until no more externals are found or until no more object files are found in which to resolve the external.

The following apply to instantiations:

  • Instantiations that appear in explicitly linked object files or libraries hide instantiations in the repositories.
  • Only template instantiations that are actually referenced in sources that can instantiate them appear in the repository. You must specify any other wanted instantiations manually or use the -tall_repository switch.
  • Instantiations are satisfied from the list of unsatisfied externals from the linking of specified files, but are linked at the beginning of those files. This means that they are linked in only if they are satisfied from no specified file given the file order behavior of ld , and bring in any external references that they need from the first library that satisfies them.

5.4 Manual Template Instantiation

The compiler provides the following methods to instantiate templates manually:

  • Using the #pragma directives
    You can use an instantiation pragma to direct the compiler to instantiate a specific template, as described in Section 5.4.1.
  • Using explicit template instantiation syntax
    The C++ language defines specific syntax for specifying that a template should be instantiated. See The C++ Programming Language, 3rd Edition.
    Compaq strongly recommends using the explicit template instantiation syntax when possible.
  • Using the command-line option method
    This method directs the compiler to instantiate templates at compile time in the user's .o file. Several options are available to control linkage and extent of template instantiation. For more information about this option, see Section 5.2.

5.4.1 Instantiation Directives

The next sections describe the following instantitation directives:

#pragma define_template
#pragma instantiate_template
#pragma do_not_instantiate_template #pragma define_template

The compiler provides a mechanism for manual instantiation, using the #pragma define_template directive. This directive lets you tell the compiler what class or function template to instantiate in conjunction with the actual arguments with which the template is to be instantiated. The #pragma define_template directive has the following format:
#pragma define_template identifier <template_arguments>

Identifier is the name of the class or function template that the compiler is directed to instantiate at compile time. For the instantiation to succeed, the definition of the template must appear before the #pragma define_template directive.

Template_arguments is a list of one or more actual types that correspond to the template parameters for the particular class or function template being instantiated. Whatever type is specified is used as the type for the instantiation.

The following is an example of a valid template manual instantiation:

       #include <stdlib.h> 
       template <class T> void sort (T*); 
       int al[100]; 
       float a2[100]; 
       int main() 
           return EXIT_SUCCESS; 
       template <class T> void sort (T *array) 
           /* body of sort */ 
       #pragma define_template sort<int> 
       #pragma define_template sort<float> 

To compile and link these sources, enter the following command:

     cxx -nopt main.cxx sort.cxx 

When you use #pragma define_template or explicit instantiation, only the specified template is instantiated; templates to which it refers because of member types or base classes are not instantiated.

Sorting an array of template class elements requires the use of additional pragmas for the module sort.cxx . For example:

       template <class T> void sort (T* array) 
           /*body of sort*/ 
       template <class T> class entity { 
           T member; 
           int operator < (const entity<T> &) const; 
       template <class T> 
       int entity<T>::operator < (const entity<T> &operand) const 
            return member < operand.member; 
       int al[100]; 
       float a2[100]; 
       entity<int> a3[100]; 
       #pragma define_template sort<int> 
       #pragma define_template sort<float> 
       #pragma define_template sort<entity<int> > 
       void sort_all_arrays () 

The define_template pragma is position sensitive. If a define_template occurs lexically before a function, member function, or static data member template definition, the compiler is unable to instantiate the corresponding template because the body of that template is not present before the pragma directive.

The compiler instantiates all instances of sort and of entity::operator < needed for this compilation unit.

To organize a program to use the define_template pragma, you can place the declarations of class and functions templates into header files, and instantiate all instances of a particular template from a single compilation unit. The following example shows how to do this:

       // sort.h 
       #include <stdlib.h> 
       template <class T> void sort (T*); 
       // entity.h 
       template <class T> class entity { 
           T member; 
           int operator < (const entity<T> &) const; 
       // main.cxx 
       #include "sort.h" 
       #include "entity.h" 
       int al[100]; 
       float a2[100]; 
       entity<int> a3[100]; 
       int main() 
           return EXIT_SUCCESS; 
       // sort.cxx 
       #include "sort.h" 
       #include "entity.h" 
       template <class T> void sort (T* array) 
           /*body of sort*/ 
       #pragma define_template sort<int> 
       #pragma define_template sort<float> 
       #pragma define_template sort<entity<int> > 

Compiling the following file provides a definition of entity::operator < with type int :

       // entity.cxx 
       #include "entity.h" 
       template <class T> 
       int entity<T>::operator < (const entity<T> &operand) const 
            return member < operand.member; 
       #pragma define_template entity<int> 

To compile this example, issue the following command:

       cxx main.cxx sort.cxx entity.cxx 

If the program uses other instantiations of entity in other compilation units, you can provide definitions of operator < for those entities by adding define_template pragmas to entity.cxx . For example, if other compilation units use the following instantiations of entity , appending the following pragmas to entity.cxx causes the compiler to generate instantiations of operator < for those requests of entity:

   entity<long> and entity< entity<int> >, 
   #pragma define_template entity<long> 
   #pragma define_template entity< entity<int> > #pragma instantiate and #pragma do_not_instantiate

The compiler also provides several pragmas that provide fine control over the instantiation process. Instantiation pragmas, for example, can be used to control the instantiation of specific template entities or sets of template entities. There are two instantiation pragmas:

  • The instantiate pragma causes a specified entity to be instantiated, similar to the define_template pragma. It provides finer instantiation control than define_template when instantiating function templates.
  • The do_not_instantiate pragma suppresses the instantiation of a specified entity. It is typically used to suppress the instantiation of an entity for which a specific definition is supplied.

The argument to the instantiation pragma can be:

a template class name A<int>
a template class declaration class A<int>
a member function name A<int>::f
a static data member name A<int>::i
a static data declaration A<int>::i
a member function declaration void A<int>::f(int, char)
a template function declaration char* f(int, float)

A pragma in which the argument is a template class name (for example, A<int> or class A<int> is equivalent to repeating the pragma for each member function and static data member declared in the class. When instantiating an entire class, a given member function or static data member may be excluded using the do_not_instantiate pragma. For example:

 #pragma instantiate A<int> 
 #pragma do_not_instantiate A<int>::f 

The template definition of a template entity must be present in the compilation for an instantiation to occur. If an instantiation is explicitly requested by use of the instantiate pragma and no template definition is available or a specific definition is provided, an error is issued.

 template <class T> void f1(T);  // No body provided 
 template <class T> void g1(T);  // No body provided 
 void f1(int) {}  // Specific definition 
        #include <stdlib.h> 
  int main() 
   int     i; 
   double  d; 
          return EXIT_SUCCESS; 
 #pragma instantiate void f1(int) // error - specific definition 
 #pragma instantiate void g1(int) // error - no body provided 

The functions f1(double) and g1(double) are not instantiated (because no bodies were supplied) but no errors are produced during the compilation (if no bodies are supplied at link time, a linker error is produced).

A member function name (for example, A<int>::f can be used as a pragma argument only if it refers to a single user-defined member function (that is, not an overloaded function). Compiler-generated functions are not considered, so a name may refer to a user-defined constructor even if a compiler-generated copy constructor of the same name exists. Overloaded member functions can be instantiated by providing the complete member function declaration:

 #pragma instantiate char* A<int>::f(int, char*) 

The argument to an instantiation pragma must not be a compiler-generated function, an inline function, or a pure virtual function.

5.5 Advanced Program Development and Templates

The following sections discuss templates in the context of advanced program development.

5.5.1 Dependency Management

The compiler does no dependency management of its own. Because template instantiations are compiled when source files that reference those instantiations are compiled, those source files must be recompiled if the template declaration or definition changes.

The -M output from the compiler lists the implicitly included files, so that the make program can automatically recompile any source files that depend upon template files. If make is not being used, it is the user's responsibility to ensure that instantiations that have changed are recompiled. The user does so by recompiling at least one source file that references the changed instantiations.

The compiler does not check command line dependencies of template instantiations at link time. If you compile two different source files that instantiate a specific template with two different sets of options, the last option setting affects the template instantiation. Use consistent option settings for each build into each repository.

5.5.2 Mixing Automatic and Manual Instantiation

Object files that have been compiled using manual instantiation can be linked freely with objects that have been compiled using automatic instantiation. To ensure that the template instantiations needed by the files compiled with automatic instantiation are provided, the application must be linked using automatic instantiation, and the appropriate repositories must be present.

When a template instantiation is present in an explicitly named object file or object library it takes precedence over the same named instantiation in a repository.

5.5.3 Creating Libraries

Creating libraries with object files created with automatic instantiations is relatively straightforward. You must decide where the instantiations that were generated automatically are provided to the users of the library.

For applications that use the library to link successfully, all template instantiations that are needed by the code in the library must be available at link time. Because template instantiation happens at compile time, the object files that contain the instantiated templates must be available at link time. This can be done in two ways:

  • Put the instantiations in the library. They hide the same named instantiations in any repositories or any libraries following the library on the command line.
  • Provide a repository that contains the instantiations.

It is usually easiest to put the instantiations in the library. This is a good choice if the instantiations are internal to the library and are not instantiated directly by the user's code. To put the instantiations in the library, add all of the object files in the repositories required by the library into the library, as shown in the following example:

 cxx -c -ptr lib_repository a.cxx b.cxx c.cxx 
 ar r mylib.a a.o b.o c.o lib_repository/*.o 

If the template instantiations can be overridden by the user, the templates should be provided in a repository that the user specifies after all the user's repositories. For the previous example, create the library as follows:

 cxx -c -ptr lib_repository a.cxx b.cxx c.cxx 
 ar r mylib.a a.o b.o c.o 

When linking the application, the user would specify lib_repository as the last read-only repository on the line as follows:

 cxx -c -ptr ./cxx_repository -ptr lib_repository user_code.cxx mylib.a 

The user must explicitly name the repository when linking, even if it is the default repository ./cxx_repository . The compiler first satisfies all unresolved instantiations from ./cxx_repository , and then it uses lib_repository to resolve any remaining unresolved instantiations.

Only the instantiations that are required by the code in the library are generated in the library repository lib_repository . If you must provide other instantiations that the user requires but cannot instantiate, you must provide these instantiations using manual template instantiation.

5.5.4 Creating A Common Instantiation Library

If you want to put all current instantiations into a common instantiation library, follow these steps:

  1. Compile with the -ptv option and save the results to a file.
  2. Edit that file and save the names that appear after the "automatically instantiating ..." string. You can ignore any messages about instantiating vtables. Put #pragma instantiate before each name.
  3. Put the result of that edit into a separate source file and include at the top of the file any headers needed for template definitions.
  4. Put matching #pragma do_not_instantiate (see Section into the headers that define each of these template classes or functions.
  5. Place each #pragma do_not_instantiate directive between an #ifndef of the form #ifndef SOME_MACRO_NAME and an #endif .
  6. Compile the inst.cxx file with SOME_MACRO_NAME defined.
  7. Link the source file with the resulting object file.

The following examples show how to create a common instantiation library for all the instantiations currently being automatically instantiated for this file.

// foo.cxx 
#include <stdlib.h> 
#include <vector> 
#include "C.h" 
int main() { 
 vector<C> v; 
        return EXIT_SUCCESS; 
// C.h 
#ifndef __C_H 
class C {}; 

Compiling with the -ptv option shows which instantiations occur automatically:

Writable_repository: ./cxx_repository 
Repository_list: ./cxx_repository 
cxx: Info: /usr/proj/decc2/mainline/exxalphaosf/stdlibinclude/, line 
          automatically instantiating void std::vector<C, std::allocator<C > 
          >::resize(unsigned long) 
void vector<T,Allocator>::resize (size_type new_size) 
// etc. etc. 
  1. Place all these instantiations into a file called inst.cxx that is built separately or into a library:

    // inst.cxx 
    #include <vector> 
    #include "C.h" 
    #pragma instantiate void std::vector<C, std::allocator<C > >::resize(unsigned 
    #pragma instantiate void std::vector<C, std::allocator<C > >::insert(C *, 
    unsigned long, const C &) 
    #pragma instantiate void std::vector<C, std::allocator<C > >::__insert(C *, 
    unsigned long, const C &, __true_category) 
    #pragma instantiate C *std::copy_backward(C *, C *, C *) 
    #pragma instantiate void std::fill(C *, C *, const C &) 
    #pragma instantiate C *std::copy(C *, C *, C *) 
    #pragma instantiate const unsigned long std::basic_string<char, 
    std::char_traits<char >, std::allocator<void> >::npos 
  2. Add these instantiations into C.h and change "instantiate" to "do_not_instantiate". Add an #ifndef , so that when building inst.cxx , the compiler creates these instantiations in the inst object file:

    #ifndef __C_H 
    class C {}; 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate void std::vector<C, 
            std::allocator<C > >::resize(unsigned long) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate void std::vector<C, 
            std::allocator<C > >::insert(C*, unsigned long, const C &) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate void std::vector<C, 
            std::allocator<C > >::__insert(C*, unsigned long, 
            const C &, __true_category) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate C *std::copy_backward(C *, C *, C *) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate void std::fill(C *, C *, const C &) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate C *std::copy(C *, C *, C *) 
    #pragma do_not_instantiate const unsigned long 
            std::basic_string<char, std::char_traits<char >, 
            std::allocator<void> >::npos 
  3. Build the inst object file:

    cxx -D__BUILDING_INSTANTIATIONS -c inst.cxx 
  4. Link with the inst object file. It will use instantiations from that file instead of creating them automatically:

    cxx foo.cxx inst.o 

To verify that your procedure worked correctly, you can remove all files from the cxx_repository subdirectory before you compile foo.cxx . This subdirectory should contain no instantiations after linking with the inst object file.

If you have an inst.cxx file that contains many instantiations and you do not want all the symbols in the inst object file to be put into a user's executable even if only some symbols are used, (as happens with archive libraries), you can either split the inst.cxx into many smaller source files, or specify the -tused_repository qualifier to create the instantiations as separate object files in the repository (see Section 5.6). You must then link all the required individual object files in the repository into your library.

5.5.5 Multiple Repositories

As shown in Section 5.5.4, multiple repositories can be specified to link an application. The first repository named is the read-write repository, and when processing, the compiler writes instantiation object files into it. At link time, all repositories are read only.

The repositories are searched in a linear order, iteratively, and satisfy only the unresolved instantiations from each pass. That is, references from instantiations that are added in one pass are not resolved until the next pass. Consider the link line in the previous example:

   cxx -c -ptr ./cxx_repository -ptr lib_repository user_code.cxx mylib.a 

In this example, all references that could be resolved from lib_repository would be resolved in the first pass. Any reference arising from an instantiation in lib_repository in the first pass would be resolved by instantiations in ./cxx_repository in the second pass.

5.6 Template Options

Compaq C++ includes various template instantiation modes that control when, where, and how a template is instantiated:

  • Manual instantiaion, automatic instantion, or both
  • Placing templates in the output object or into a repository
  • Using local or external linkage
  • As needed or complete instantiation

A C++ program can cause the compiler to perform a template instantiation in two ways: explicitly or implicitly. A template instantiation is explicitly requested by using #pragma define_template, #pragma instantiate, or an explicit instantiation request (see Stroustrup, section C.13.10). A template instantiation is implicitly requested by simply using the template. Requesting a template instantiation explicitly is referred to as manual instantiation, while the process by which the compiler instantiates implicit requests is referred to as automatic template instantiation.

When a template is manually instantiated, it is completely instantiated. For a template class, a complete instantiation means all its member functions and static data members are instantiated even if they were not used. Automatically instantiated templates may optionally be completely instantiated.

Each of the following modes is mutually exclusive. Only one should be specified on the command line:


Automatically instantiate templates into the repository with external linkage. Manually instantiated templates are placed in the output object with external linkage. This option is the default.


Similar to -pt, except that automatically instantiated templates are placed in the output object.

-tused_repository (cxx -newcxx only)

Similar to -pt, except that manually instantiated templates are placed in the repository.


Disable automatic template instantiation. Manually instantiated templates are placed in the output object with external linkage.


Automatically instantiate templates completely and place them in the output object with external linkage. Manually instantiated templates are also placed in the output object with external linkage.

-tall_repository (cxx -newcxx only)

Same as -tall except that all instantiations are placed in the repository instead of the output object. This option is useful for creating a pre-instantiation library.


Instantiate templates automatically, placing them in the output object with internal linkage. Manually instantiated templates are also placed in the output object with internal linkage. This option provides a simple mechanism for getting started with templates, but it has a number of limitations. Because the templates have local storage, they must be instantiated in every module that uses them, and code bloat could occur. In addition, a variable that would otherwise have a single global copy can instead have many local copies that do not share the same state.

-timplicit_local (cxx -newcxx only)

Same as -tlocal, except that manually instantiated templates are placed in the repository with external linkage. This is useful for build systems that need to have explicit control of the template instantiation mechanism. This mode can suffer the same limitations as -tlocal and is the default when -std gnu is specified.

-tweak (cxx -newcxx only)

Same as -timplicit_local, but automatically instantiated templates receive weak linkage. Weak linkage resembles external linkage, except that duplicate symbols do not result in a link error. The linker simply chooses one of the symbols. While this behavior can still result in code bloat, it avoids the problem of having multiple copies of the same variable not sharing the same state.

The cxx command supports the following additional options for the instantiation of templates:

-pending_instantiations n

Limit the depth of recursive instantiations so that infinite instantiation loops can be detected before some resource is exhausted. -pending_instantiations requires a positive non-zero value n as argument and issues an error when n instantiations are pending for the same class template. The default value for n is 64.

-ttimestamp (cxx -newcxx only)

Used with automatic instantiation. Causes automatic instantiation to instantiate templates only if they are not already in the repository, or if the existing instantiations in the repository are older than the timestamp in the repository.


Stops the cxx command after the prelinker runs and before the final link. Provided for compatibility with previous versions of C++.

-[no]implicit_include (cxx -newcxx only)

Effective only with Version 6.0 and later. Enable or disable inclusion of source files as a method of finding definitions of template entities. Implicit inclusion is enabled by default, and it is disabled when compiling with -E or -P. The search rules for finding template definition files are the same as for include files. This option also defines the macro __IMPLICIT_INCLUDE_ENABLED. You might want to disable implicit inclusion with the -ms and -std ms options to match the behavior on Microsoft C++ more closely.


Directs the compiler to ignore any #pragma define_template directives. This option is provided for users who want to migrate quickly to automatic instantiation without having to remove all the pragma directives from their code base.

-ptr dir

Specifies a repository, with ./cxx_repository as the default. If you specify several repositories, only the first is writable, and the rest are read only. Read-only repositories are used only at link time. Specifying this option at link time enables C++ to recognize and use the template instantiation information files within the specified repository. If you use this option, make sure that the repository specified at compile time is the same one specified at link time.


Specifies a list of file name suffixes that are valid for template definition files. Items in the list must be separated by commas and each suffix preceded by a period. A suffix may have no more than eight characters excluding the beginning period. The default is ".cxx,.CXX,.C,.cc,.CC,.cpp,.c".


Turns on verbose or verify mode to display each phase of instantiation as it occurs. This option is useful as a debugging aid.

5.7 Compatibility with Earlier Versions of C++

The automatic template instantiation model is not directly compatible with previous C++ automatic template instantiation.

The compiler invoked when you use the -oldcxx option is a Version 5.n compiler. Where possible, it is safest to start fresh with an empty repository, and create the required instantiations by compiling all source files. If this is not possible, there are some strategies that can be used to link mixed generation instantiations.

If you used both Version 6.n and Version 5.n to build applications, Compaq strongly recommends that you use different repositories to contain automatic template instantiations for Version 6.n and Version 5.n compilations.

The default repository name is the same for Version 6.n as for prior versions. Thus, if you use Version 6.n with older C++ compilers, you should do compilations in a different directory for each compiler or explicitly specify a different repository for each using the -ptr option.

5.7.1 Linking with Version 5.n Instantiations

When linking applications using Version 6.n against instantiations created with Version 5.n, it is necessary to complete the Version 5.n instantiation process, to create instantiation object files. This can be done with the -oldcxx and -Hx command-line options when linking. If old_repository is a Version 5.n repository then you would create the Version 5.n instantiation object files by using:

 cxx -oldcxx -Hx  -ptr old_repository <Version 5.n object files> 

The <Version 5.n object files> are the object files that were created using the Version 5.n compiler; old_repository now contains the instantiation object files. Create a library of these object files as follows:

 ar r lib_old_repository.a old_repository/*.o 

When linking using Version 6.n, specify lib_old_repository.a after all of the Version 5.n object files that are being linked.

It is possible for repositories to reference objects in libraries that had not been referenced previously. If this case, you must specify the library on the command line again after the repository. The library might also reference objects not previously referenced. Some cycles might therefore require a single repository to be specified multiple times on the command line.

5.8 Linking Version 5.n Applications Against Version 6.n Repositories

In a similar way, you can create a library of Version 6.n instantiation object files to link into a Version 5.n application being linked using C++ Version 5.n. If new_repository is the Version 6.n repository, then a library of the instantiations would be created by:

 ar r lib_new_repository.a new_repository/*.o 

When linking using Version 5.n, specify lib_new_repository.a after all of the Version 6.n object files that are being linked.

It is possible for repositories to reference objects in libraries that had not been referenced previously. If this case, you must specify the library on the command line again after the repository. The library might also reference objects not previously referenced. Some cycles might therefore require a single repository to be specified multiple times on the command line.

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