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394. behavior of formatted output on failure

Section: [ostream.formatted.reqmts] Status: NAD Submitter: Martin Sebor Opened: 2002-12-27 Last modified: 2016-01-28

Priority: Not Prioritized

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There is a contradiction in Formatted output about what bit is supposed to be set if the formatting fails. On sentence says it's badbit and another that it's failbit., p1 says in the Common Requirements on Formatted output functions:

     ... If the generation fails, then the formatted output function
     does setstate(ios::failbit), which might throw an exception., p1 goes on to say this about Arithmetic Inserters:

... The formatting conversion occurs as if it performed the following code fragment:

     bool failed =
         > >
         (getloc()).put(*this, *this, fill(), val). failed();

     ... If failed is true then does setstate(badbit) ...

The original intent of the text, according to Jerry Schwarz (see c++std-lib-10500), is captured in the following paragraph:

In general "badbit" should mean that the stream is unusable because of some underlying failure, such as disk full or socket closure; "failbit" should mean that the requested formatting wasn't possible because of some inconsistency such as negative widths. So typically if you clear badbit and try to output something else you'll fail again, but if you clear failbit and try to output something else you'll succeed.

In the case of the arithmetic inserters, since num_put cannot report failure by any means other than exceptions (in response to which the stream must set badbit, which prevents the kind of recoverable error reporting mentioned above), the only other detectable failure is if the iterator returned from num_put returns true from failed().

Since that can only happen (at least with the required iostream specializations) under such conditions as the underlying failure referred to above (e.g., disk full), setting badbit would seem to be the appropriate response (indeed, it is required in, p1). It follows that failbit can never be directly set by the arithmetic (it can only be set by the sentry object under some unspecified conditions).

The situation is different for other formatted output functions which can fail as a result of the streambuf functions failing (they may do so by means other than exceptions), and which are then required to set failbit.

The contradiction, then, is that ostream::operator<<(int) will set badbit if the disk is full, while operator<<(ostream&, char) will set failbit under the same conditions. To make the behavior consistent, the Common requirements sections for the Formatted output functions should be changed as proposed below.

[Kona: There's agreement that this is a real issue. What we decided at Kona: 1. An error from the buffer (which can be detected either directly from streambuf's member functions or by examining a streambuf_iterator) should always result in badbit getting set. 2. There should never be a circumstance where failbit gets set. That represents a formatting error, and there are no circumstances under which the output facets are specified as signaling a formatting error. (Even more so for string output that for numeric because there's nothing to format.) If we ever decide to make it possible for formatting errors to exist then the facets can signal the error directly, and that should go in clause 22, not clause 27. 3. The phrase "if generation fails" is unclear and should be eliminated. It's not clear whether it's intended to mean a buffer error (e.g. a full disk), a formatting error, or something else. Most people thought it was supposed to refer to buffer errors; if so, we should say so. Martin will provide wording.]

[ 2009-07 Frankfurt ]

NAD. This issue is already fixed.

Proposed resolution: