This is an unofficial snapshot of the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG21 Core Issues List revision 114b. See http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/ for the official list.

2024-05-06


529. Use of template<> with “explicitly-specialized” class templates

Section: 13.9.4  [temp.expl.spec]     Status: drafting     Submitter: James Widman     Date: 16 August 2005

Paragraph 17 of 13.9.4 [temp.expl.spec] says,

A member or a member template may be nested within many enclosing class templates. In an explicit specialization for such a member, the member declaration shall be preceded by a template<> for each enclosing class template that is explicitly specialized.

This is curious, because paragraph 3 only allows explicit specialization of members of implicitly-instantiated class specializations, not explicit specializations. Furthermore, paragraph 4 says,

Definitions of members of an explicitly specialized class are defined in the same manner as members of normal classes, and not using the explicit specialization syntax.

Paragraph 18 provides a clue for resolving the apparent contradiction:

In an explicit specialization declaration for a member of a class template or a member template that appears in namespace scope, the member template and some of its enclosing class templates may remain unspecialized, except that the declaration shall not explicitly specialize a class member template if its enclosing class templates are not explicitly specialized as well. In such explicit specialization declaration, the keyword template followed by a template-parameter-list shall be provided instead of the template<> preceding the explicit specialization declaration of the member.

It appears from this and the following example that the phrase “explicitly specialized” in paragraphs 17 and 18, when referring to enclosing class templates, does not mean that explicit specializations have been declared for them but that their names in the qualified-id are followed by template argument lists. This terminology is confusing and should be changed.

Proposed resolution (October, 2005):

  1. Change 13.9.4 [temp.expl.spec] paragraph 17 as indicated:

  2. A member or a member template may be nested within many enclosing class templates. In an explicit specialization for such a member, the member declaration shall be preceded by a template<> for each enclosing class template that is explicitly specialized specialization. [Example:...
  3. Change 13.9.4 [temp.expl.spec] paragraph 18 as indicated:

  4. In an explicit specialization declaration for a member of a class template or a member template that appears in namespace scope, the member template and some of its enclosing class templates may remain unspecialized, except that the declaration shall not explicitly specialize a class member template if its enclosing class templates are not explicitly specialized as well that is, the template-id naming the template may be composed of template parameter names rather than template-arguments. In For each unspecialized template in such an explicit specialization declaration, the keyword template followed by a template-parameter-list shall be provided instead of the template<> preceding the explicit specialization declaration of the member. The types of the template-parameters in the template-parameter-list shall be the same as those specified in the primary template definition. In such declarations, an unspecialized template-id shall not precede the name of a template specialization in the qualified-id naming the member. [Example:...

Notes from the April, 2006 meeting:

The revised wording describing “unspecialized” templates needs more work to ensure that the parameter names in the template-id are in the correct order; the distinction between template arguments and parameters is also probably not clear enough. It might be better to replace this paragraph completely and avoid the “unspecialized” wording altogether.

Proposed resolution (February, 2010):

  1. Change 13.9.4 [temp.expl.spec] paragraph 17 as follows:

  2. A member or a member template may be nested within many enclosing class templates. In an explicit specialization for such a member, the member declaration shall be preceded by a template<> for each enclosing class template that is explicitly specialized specialization. [Example:...
  3. Change 13.9.4 [temp.expl.spec] paragraph 18 as follows:

  4. In an explicit specialization declaration for a member of a class template or a member template that appears in namespace scope, the member template and some of its enclosing class templates may remain unspecialized, except that the declaration shall not explicitly specialize a class member template if its enclosing class templates are not explicitly specialized as well. In such explicit specialization declaration, the keyword template followed by a template-parameter-list shall be provided instead of the template<> preceding the explicit specialization declaration of the member. The types of the template-parameters in the template-parameter-list shall be the same as those specified in the primary template definition. that is, the corresponding template prefix may specify a template-parameter-list instead of template<> and the template-id naming the template be written using those template-parameters as template-arguments. In such a declaration, the number, kinds, and types of the template-parameters shall be the same as those specified in the primary template definition, and the template-parameters shall be named in the template-id in the same order that they appear in the template-parameter-list. An unspecialized template-id shall not precede the name of a template specialization in the qualified-id naming the member. [Example:...