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Override Enumeration in Derived Class

2 New Member
Is there any way of declaring an enumeration in a base class in such a way that it can be "overridden " in a derived class... for instance:

class Base{

enum Enum { //empty };


class Derived : public Base{

enum Enum
A = 0,
B = 1,
C = 2


In short, I am trying to create an enumeration "object" that will enable an enumeration to be used in a more OO manner...

The way I am trying to implement this is by creating a base class with a base enumeration definition, a pure virtual init() that will (later in derived classes) be used to create a list of the form:

//for the enum above...

typedef std:pair<Base:: Enum, std::string> EnumPair;
std::list<Base: :EnumPair> EnumList;

EnumList.push_b ack( EnumPair(A, "A") );
EnumList.push_b ack( EnumPair(B, "B") );
EnumList.push_b ack( EnumPair(C, "C") );

and a set of operators & methods that essential allow enum vs. string comparisons and translations...

I've been able to do this with a single enumeration however, since the majority of the code simply parses a list, I would like to reduce the overhead of creating future enumeration "objects" by creating a base class that defines the majority of the operators & methods need and which would allow derived classes to simply override the enumeration & create a virtual init() method that would initialize the inherited EnumList as in the example above...

I know that this is likely going to be troublesome since enumerations are considered as a "type" in C++ but I'm trying nonetheless (shoot the moon)...

Any advice would be much appreciated!
Aug 21 '07 #1
3 13675
463 Recognized Expert Contributor
As far as I can tell, enums are const ints with pretty names first found in C. Hmmm, they don't sound very OO to me.

I like your idea, but I would suggest using a map instead of a list. Your searches will be a lot faster. Also, I think the multiple definitions of Enum are going to confuse the compiler. How will it know when you're talking about Base::Enum instead of Derived::Enum? If you get rid of Derived::Enum, then you can force the map to return an enum type for any and all values stored in the map. For example,
Expand|Select|Wrap|Line Numbers
  1. EnumList AList;
  2. // Just need an integer value, can be enum or not
  3. Alist.push( A or 22 or ??, "A"); etc. etc.
  4. Enum gotA = AList( "A") ;  
Unfortunately, now we can't have the compiler tell the difference between an AList and a BList. Equally bad is that this is a runtime cost, and not a compiler cost you get with enums.

You might want to take a look at the Java (!gasp) Enum class. They allow the class to be overridden. I tried it once and found it to be awkward but workable.
Aug 21 '07 #2
2 New Member
Java isn't really an option for me unfortunately.. .

I did use a map initially but I want to be able to search on both the enumeration and it's respective string... and as I am creating this for a user defined enumeration the lists won't be long enough to realize the logarithmic performance gain of a hash/map...

Would it be possible to template a class to do something similar to this instead of trying to use inheritance?
Aug 22 '07 #3
9,208 Recognized Expert Moderator Expert
As far as I can tell, enums are const ints with pretty names first found in C. Hmmm, they don't sound very OO to me.
enums are not integers. They are not variables at all. An enum is a declaration.

Instead, an enum is a list of named integer values. If you define an integer with a type of the enum, it is still an int but the compiler can restrict the values to the named values in the enum declaration.

Having an enum declared within a class is recommended. One reason is that you can use the same enum name in different classes with different values. Also, it removes the requirement for a giant enum header that contains unique names a la C.

In terms of overriding, dio you try:
Expand|Select|Wrap|Line Numbers
  1. class Base
  2. {
  3. public:
  4.     enum Error {OUCH};
  5. };
  6. class Derived : public Base
  7. {
  8. public:
  9.     enum Error {OHBOY, OUCH};
  10. };
  12. int main()
  13. {
  14.     Base::Error valB = Base::OUCH;
  15.     Derived::Error valA = Derived::OHBOY;
  16.     valA = Derived::OUCH;
  17. }
Aug 22 '07 #4

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