[osg-users] Ref_ptr question : argument and return

Vincent Bourdier vincent.bourdier at gmail.com
Tue Sep 23 00:43:42 PDT 2008

Hi Thibault

Thanks a lot, this will help me.
I understand that the ref_ptr is not needed everywhere, but sometimes it
becomes very difficult to undestand if a ref_ptr is needed or if a pointer
will be sufficient or safety.

Thanks for your help.


2008/9/23 Thibault Genessay <tibogens at gmail.com>

> Hi Vincent
> On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:23 PM, Vincent Bourdier
> <vincent.bourdier at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi all,
> >
> > I read that all the objects that inherit from Referenced need to be in a
> > ref_ptr.
> They don't _need_ to. You can perfectly use a raw pointer to an
> osg::Referenced instance, e.g. create a new node:
> MyNode* node = new MyNode();
> myscene->addChild(node);
> You have to be aware that if an exception is thrown (or any event that
> could cause the addChild() call to be skipped) before the node is
> added to the parent the memory will not be freed - group nodes keep
> ref_ptr<>s to their children, and once the node is added to 'myscene'
> it will be managed by the ref_ptr mechanism.
> The general rule is to use raw pointers only when you do trivial
> things (e.g. creating an instance provided that the constructor cannot
> throw) or when you know that your object is already referenced from
> somewhere else (e.g. like in osg::Node* node = myscene->getChild(0)).
> Use ref_ptrs as class members (*) (e.g. have a look at osg::Group) and
> when things are more complicated, especially w.r.t exceptions that
> could be thrown in the meantime.
> > Ok that sounds good , but :
> >
> > In this case I don't know if I need to put the ref_prt in argument or if
> > only the ptr is needed.
> It's not a good idea to use ref_ptr<> in arguments. If your function looks
> like
> void setFooState(ref_ptr<Node> arg) { // add the foo state to the
> node's stateset  }
> And you call it this way:
> osg::Node* node = new MyNode();
> setFooState(node);
> then a ref_ptr will be implicitly created. It will ref() the node, do
> whatever it needs to do with it and unref() it before it returns to
> the caller. Since the node was not referenced from somewhere else, it
> will be deleted and your 'node' pointer will be a dangling pointer -
> which is certainly not what you want.
> OTOH, if your function is defined as
> void setFooState(osg::Node* arg) {...}
> you can safely call either
> setFooState(node); if you have a raw pointer to your node
> or
> setFooState(node.get()); if you have a ref_ptr to your node
> Hope this helps
> Thibault
> (*) Keep in mind that your (scene) graph must be acyclic w.r.t to
> ref_ptr<>s: if A holds a ref_ptr to B then neither B nor its children
> must hold a ref_ptr to A. This is why Groups have an
> std::vector<ref_ptr<Node> > to their children, and Nodes have an
> std::vector<Node*> to their parents.
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