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Template advantages

Function templates are used when you need to perform similar operations on various data types, for example, searching for a maximum element in the array.  The main advantage of applying the templates is that you do not have to code a separate overload for each type.  Instead of declaring multiple overloads of each type

double ArrayMax(double array[])
  {
   ...
  }
int ArrayMax(int array[])
  {
   ...
  }
uint ArrayMax(uint array[])
  {
   ...
  }
long ArrayMax(long array[])
  {
   ...
  }
datetime ArrayMax(datetime array[])
  {
   ...
  }

we need to write only one template function

template<typename T> 
T ArrayMax(T array[])
  {
   if(ArraySize()==0) 
      return(0);
   uint max_index=ArrayMaximum(array);  
   return(array[max_index]);
  }

to use it in your code:

double high[];
datetime time[];
....
double max_high=ArrayMax(high);
datetime lasttime=ArrayMax(time);

Here, the T formal parameter specifying a type of used data is replaced with an actually applied type during compilation, i.e. the compiler automatically generates a separate function for each type — double, datetime, etc. MQL5 also allows you to develop class templates using all the advantages of the approach.

Class templates

A class template is declared using the template keyword followed by angle brackets<> enumerating the list of formal parameters with the typename keyword. This entry informs the compiler that it deals with a generic class with the T formal parameter defining a real variable type when implementing a class. For example, let's create a vector class for storing an array with T type elements:

#define TOSTR(x) #x+" "   // macro for displaying an object name
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
//| Vector class for storing T-type elements                       |
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
template <typename T>
class TArray
  {
protected:
   T                 m_array[];
public:
   //--- constructor creates an array for 10 elements by default
   void TArray(void){ArrayResize(m_array,10);}
   //--- constructor for creating a vector with a specified array size
   void TArray(int size){ArrayResize(m_array,size);}
   //--- return a type and amount of data stored in the TArray type object
   string Type(void){return(typename(m_array[0])+":"+(string)ArraySize(m_array));};
  };

Next, let's apply different methods to create three TArray objects in the program for working with various types

void OnStart()
  {
   TArray<double> double_array;   // vector has a default size of 10 
   TArray<int> int_array(15);     // vector has a size of 15
   TArray<string> *string_array;  // pointer to TArray<string> vector 
//--- create a dynamic object
   string_array=new TArray<string>(20);
//--- display an object name, data type and vector size in the Journal
   PrintFormat("%s (%s)",TOSTR(double_array),double_array.Type());
   PrintFormat("%s (%s)",TOSTR(int_array),int_array.Type());
   PrintFormat("%s (%s)",TOSTR(string_array),string_array.Type());
//--- remove a dynamic object before completing the program
   delete(string_array);   
  }

Script execution results:

  double_array  (double:10)
  int_array  (int:15)
  string_array  (string:20)

Now, we have 3 vectors with different data types: double, int and string.

Class templates are well suited for developing containers — objects designed for encapsulating other objects of any type. Container objects are collections already containing objects of one certain type. Usually, working with stored data is instantly built into the container.

For example, you can create a class template that does not allow accessing an element outside the array, thus avoiding the "out of range" critical error.

//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
//| Class for a free access to an array element               |
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
template<typename T>
class TSafeArray
  {
protected:
   T                 m_array[];
public:
   //--- default constructor
   void              TSafeArray(void){}
   //--- constructor for creating the array of a specified size
   void              TSafeArray(int size){ArrayResize(m_array,size);}
   //--- array size 
   int               Size(void){return(ArraySize(m_array));}
   //--- change the array size 
   int               Resize(int size,int reserve){return(ArrayResize(m_array,size,reserve));}
   //--- release the array 
   void              Erase(void){ZeroMemory(m_array);}
   //--- operator for accessing the array element by index
   T                 operator[](int index);
   //--- assignment operator for receiving all elements from the array at once
   void              operator=(const T  &array[]); // T type array 
  };
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
//| Receiving an element by index                           |
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
template<typename T>
T TSafeArray::operator[](int index)
  {
   static T invalid_value;
//---
   int max=ArraySize(m_array)-1;
   if(index<0 || index>=ArraySize(m_array))
     {
      PrintFormat("%s index %d is not in range (0-%d)!",__FUNCTION__,index,max);
      return(invalid_value);
     }
//---
   return(m_array[index]);
  }
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
//| Assigning for the array                                 |
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
template<typename T>
void TSafeArray::operator=(const T  &array[])
  {
   int size=ArraySize(array);
   ArrayResize(m_array,size);
//--- T type should support the copying operator
   for(int i=0;i<size;i++)
      m_array[i]=array[i];
//---
  }
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
//| Script program start function                                    |
//+------------------------------------------------------------------+
void OnStart()
  {
   int copied,size=15;  
   MqlRates rates[];
//--- copy the array of quotes
   if((copied=CopyRates(_Symbol,_Period,0,size,rates))!=size)
     {
      PrintFormat("CopyRates(%s,%s,0,%d) returned %d error code",
      _Symbol,EnumToString(_Period),size,GetLastError());
      return;
     }
//--- create a container and insert the MqlRates value array to it
   TSafeArray<MqlRates> safe_rates;
   safe_rates=rates;
   //--- index within the array
   int index=3;
   PrintFormat("Close[%d]=%G",index,safe_rates[index].close);
   //--- index outside the array
   index=size;
   PrintFormat("Close[%d]=%G",index,safe_rates[index].close);
  }

Please note that template declaration should also be used when describing methods outside the class declaration:

template<typename T>
T TSafeArray::operator[](int index)
  {
   ...
  }
template<typename T>
void TSafeArray::operator=(const T  &array[])
  {
   ...
  }

Class and function templates allow you to define multiple comma-separated formal parameters, for example, Map collection for storing "key — value" pairs:

template<typename Key, template Value>
class TMap
  {
   ...
  }

 

See also

Function templates, Overload


Updated: 2017.03.02