Checked Iterators

Checked iterators ensure that the bounds of your container are not overwritten. Checked iterators apply to both release builds and debug builds. For more information about how to use debug iterators when you compile in debug mode, see Debug Iterator Support.

Remarks

For information about how to disable warnings that are generated by checked iterators, see _SCL_SECURE_NO_WARNINGS.

You can use the _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL preprocessor macro to enable or disable the checked iterators feature. If _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL is defined as 1 or 2, unsafe use of iterators causes a runtime error and the program is terminated. If defined as 0, checked iterators are disabled. By default, the value for _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL is 0 for release builds and 2 for debug builds.

Important

Older documentation and source code may refer to the _SECURE_SCL macro. Use _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL to control _SECURE_SCL. For more information, see _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL.

When _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL is defined as 1 or 2, these iterator checks are performed:

  • All standard iterators (for example, vector::iterator) are checked.

  • If an output iterator is a checked iterator, calls to standard library functions such as std::copy get checked behavior.

  • If an output iterator is an unchecked iterator, calls to standard library functions cause compiler warnings.

  • The following functions generate a runtime error if there is an access that is outside the bounds of the container:

basic_string::operator[] bitset::operator[] back front
deque::operator[] back front back
front vector::operator[] back front

When _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL is defined as 0:

  • All standard iterators are unchecked. Iterators can move beyond the container boundaries, which leads to undefined behavior.

  • If an output iterator is a checked iterator, calls to standard library functions such as std::copy get checked behavior.

  • If an output iterator is an unchecked iterator, calls to standard library functions get unchecked behavior.

A checked iterator refers to an iterator that calls invalid_parameter_handler if you attempt to move past the boundaries of the container. For more information about invalid_parameter_handler, see Parameter Validation.

The iterator adaptors that support checked iterators are checked_array_iterator Class and unchecked_array_iterator Class.

Example

When you compile by using _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL set to 1 or 2, a runtime error will occur if you attempt to access an element that is outside the bounds of the container by using the indexing operator of certain classes.

// checked_iterators_1.cpp
// cl.exe /Zi /MDd /EHsc /W4

#define _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL 1

#include <vector>
#include <iostream>

using namespace std;

int main()
{
   vector<int> v;
   v.push_back(67);

   int i = v[0];
   cout << i << endl;

   i = v[1]; //triggers invalid parameter handler
}

This program prints "67" then pops up an assertion failure dialog box with additional information about the failure.

Example

Similarly, when you compile by using _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL set to 1 or 2, a runtime error will occur if you attempt to access an element by using front or back in container classes when the container is empty.

// checked_iterators_2.cpp
// cl.exe /Zi /MDd /EHsc /W4
#define _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL 1

#include <vector>
#include <iostream>

using namespace std;

int main()
{
   vector<int> v;

   int& i = v.front(); // triggers invalid parameter handler
}

This program pops up an assertion failure dialog box with additional information about the failure.

Example

The following code demonstrates various iterator use-case scenarios with comments about each. By default, _ITERATOR_DEBUG_LEVEL is set to 2 in Debug builds, and to 0 in Retail builds.

// checked_iterators_3.cpp
// cl.exe /MTd /EHsc /W4

#include <algorithm>
#include <array>
#include <iostream>
#include <iterator>
#include <numeric>
#include <string>
#include <vector>

using namespace std;

template <typename C>
void print(const string& s, const C& c)
{
    cout << s;

    for (const auto& e : c) {
        cout << e << " ";
    }

    cout << endl;
}

int main()
{
    vector<int> v(16);
    iota(v.begin(), v.end(), 0);
    print("v: ", v);

    // OK: vector::iterator is checked in debug mode
    // (i.e. an overrun causes a debug assertion)
    vector<int> v2(16);
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), v2.begin(), [](int n) { return n * 2; });
    print("v2: ", v2);

    // OK: back_insert_iterator is marked as checked in debug mode
    // (i.e. an overrun is impossible)
    vector<int> v3;
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), back_inserter(v3), [](int n) { return n * 3; });
    print("v3: ", v3);

    // OK: array::iterator is checked in debug mode
    // (i.e. an overrun causes a debug assertion)
    array<int, 16> a4;
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), a4.begin(), [](int n) { return n * 4; });
    print("a4: ", a4);

    // OK: Raw arrays are checked in debug mode
    // (an overrun causes a debug assertion)
    // NOTE: This applies only when raw arrays are given to C++ Standard Library algorithms!
    int a5[16];
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), a5, [](int n) { return n * 5; });
    print("a5: ", a5);

    // WARNING C4996: Pointers cannot be checked in debug mode
    // (an overrun causes undefined behavior)
    int a6[16];
    int * p6 = a6;
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), p6, [](int n) { return n * 6; });
    print("a6: ", a6);

    // OK: stdext::checked_array_iterator is checked in debug mode
    // (an overrun causes a debug assertion)
    int a7[16];
    int * p7 = a7;
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), stdext::make_checked_array_iterator(p7, 16), [](int n) { return n * 7; });
    print("a7: ", a7);

    // WARNING SILENCED: stdext::unchecked_array_iterator is marked as checked in debug mode
    // (it performs no checking, so an overrun causes undefined behavior)
    int a8[16];
    int * p8 = a8;
    transform(v.begin(), v.end(), stdext::make_unchecked_array_iterator(p8), [](int n) { return n * 8; });
    print("a8: ", a8);
}

When you compile this code by using cl.exe /EHsc /W4 /MTd checked_iterators_3.cpp the compiler emits a warning, but compiles without error into an executable:

algorithm(1026) : warning C4996: 'std::_Transform1': Function call with parameters
that may be unsafe - this call relies on the caller to check that the passed values
are correct. To disable this warning, use -D_SCL_SECURE_NO_WARNINGS. See documentation
on how to use Visual C++ 'Checked Iterators'

When run at the command line, the executable generates this output:

v: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
v2: 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
v3: 0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45
a4: 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44 48 52 56 60
a5: 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
a6: 0 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60 66 72 78 84 90
a7: 0 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70 77 84 91 98 105
a8: 0 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80 88 96 104 112 120

See also

C++ Standard Library Overview
Debug Iterator Support