This is an unofficial snapshot of the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG21 Core Issues List revision 112e. See for the official list.


338. Enumerator name with linkage used as class name in other translation unit

Section: 6.6  []     Status: CD6     Submitter: Daveed Vandevoorde     Date: 26 Feb 2002

[Accepted at the November, 2020 meeting as part of paper P1787R6 and moved to DR at the February, 2021 meeting.]

The following declarations are allowed within a translation unit:

  struct S;
  enum { S };

However, 6.6 [] paragraph 9 seems to say these two declarations cannot appear in two different translation units. That also would mean that the inclusion of a header containing the above in two different translation units is not valid C++.

I suspect this is an oversight and that users should be allowed to have the declarations above appear in different translation units. (It is a fairly common thing to do, I think.)

Mike Miller: I think you meant "enum E { S };" -- enumerators only have external linkage if the enumeration does (6.6 [] paragraph 4) , and 6.6 [] paragraph 9 only applies to entities with external linkage.

I don't remember why enumerators were given linkage; I don't think it's necessary for mangling non-type template arguments. In any event, I can't think why cross-TU name collisions between enumerators and other entities would cause a problem, so I guess a change here would be okay. I can think of three changes that would have that effect:

  1. Saying that enumerators do not have linkage.
  2. Removing enumerators from the list of entities in the first sentence of 6.6 [] paragraph 9.
  3. Saying that it's okay for an enumerator in one TU to have the same name as a class type in another TU only if the enumerator hides that same class type in both TUs (the example you gave).

Daveed Vandevoorde: I don't think any of these are sufficient in the sense that the problem isn't limited to enumerators. E.g.:

  struct X;
  extern void X();
shouldn't create cross-TU collisions either.

Mike Miller: So you're saying that cross-TU collisions should only be prohibited if both names denote entities of the same kind (both functions, both objects, both types, etc.), or if they are both references (regardless of what they refer to, presumably)?

Daveed Vandevoorde: Not exactly. Instead, I'm saying that if two entities (with external linkage) can coexist when they're both declared in the same translation unit (TU), then they should also be allowed to coexist when they're declared in two different translation units.

For example:

  int i;
  void i();  // Error
This is an error within a TU, so I don't see a reason to make it valid across TUs.

However, "tag names" (class/struct/union/enum) can sometimes coexist with identically named entities (variables, functions & enumerators, but not namespaces, templates or type names).