Click here to Skip to main content
15,904,153 members
Articles / Programming Languages / C++17

C++17 Easy String to Number and Vice Versa

Rate me:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
5.00/5 (8 votes)
27 Jan 2024MIT3 min read 10.4K   208   10   10
C++17 easy string to number and vice versa conversions in header-only class
C++17 intuitive string-to-number and vice versa conversions in header-only class

Table of Contents

The example code is hosted on Github.

Introduction

In contrast to the template function overloading approach used in Boost lexical_cast, this library uses function overloading. All the functions are named str_to_num, num_to_str, str_to_float and float_to_str to reduce cognitive load to focus on the business logic and thus reduce mistakes.

To limit the library scope, only string-to-number conversion and vice versa are implemented. All functions are listed at the bottom for your convenience since this is a header-only library, so it can be difficult to search. For brevity, static keyword is omitted.

Problem Space

There are so many different ways of converting string to number and number to string in C++ that developers have to Google for this information. For example, to convert a string to an integer, we have five functions: atoi, stoi, strtol, sscanf and from_chars. This library makes use of C++17s from_chars() for string-to-number conversion and to_chars()/to_string() for base 10 number to char array/std::string conversions. In the case of base 8 and 16, it uses sprintf()/sprintf_s().

To use C++17s from_chars(), C++ developers are required to remember four different ways depending on whether the source string is a std::string, char pointer, char array or std::string_view (See below). And from_chars() does not support wide string and this library fills up this gap.

C++
int num = 0;
std::string str = "123";
auto ret1 = std::from_chars(str.data(), str.data() + str.length(), num);

num = 0;
const char* cstr = "123";
auto ret2 = std::from_chars(cstr, cstr + strlen(cstr), num);

num = 0;
const char arr[] = "123";
auto ret3 = std::from_chars(std::begin(arr), std::end(arr), num);

num = 0;
std::string_view strv = "123";
auto ret4 = std::from_chars(strv.data(), strv.data() + strv.length(), num);

Jackie Chan confused by so many ways of using from_chars

In comparison, the user of str_to_num supplies two parameters and other parameters such as number base and error are optional. For base 16, str_to_num ignores "0x" or "0X" prefixes as a convenience while those prefixes are not recognized in from_chars().

These are the str_to_num equivalent usages of the above from_chars examples.

C++
#include "conv.h"

int num = 0;
std::string str = "123";
bool ret1 = conv::str_to_num(str,  num);

num = 0;
const char* cstr = "123";
bool ret2 = conv::str_to_num(cstr, num);

num = 0;
const char arr[] = "123";
bool ret3 = conv::str_to_num(arr,  num); // Note: array decay to a pointer.

num = 0;
std::string_view strv = "123";
bool ret4 = conv::str_to_num(strv, num);

Common Compilation Errors

If you get to_chars and from_chars undefined errors, make sure you have C++ Language Standard set to C++17.

Visual C++ Language Standard set to C++17

Error Handling Rationale from Lessons of lexical_cast()

C++
int num = 0;
std::errc error;
std::string student_id = "abc";
if (!conv::str_to_num(student_id, num, 10, &error))
{
	if (error == std::errc::invalid_argument)
		std::cerr << "error: student_id is non-numeric:" << student_id << std::endl;
}
else
	std::cout << "num:" << num << std::endl;

This library's conversion function does not throw exception but returns false for failure. Developer can supply an errc argument for information. In the special case of number to string, there is no error parameter because no failure is possible except for out of memory so caller can safely assume the error is out of memory. For some case, it is enough to know the presence of error, not the cause. Sometimes, error is to be expected for optional field not supplied or mutually-excluded fields, say, in a file configuration settings. It is only possible to obtain contextual information at the call site for meaningful error handling. Boost lexical_cast() throws exception with a generic error message of "bad lexical cast: source type value could not be interpreted as target". For instance, I put a bunch of lexical_cast() calls under a try-catch block, it is not clear to me which conversion failed during exception. This is the sole reason why such lexical_cast wrapper exists.

Future Direction

If this library proves to be popular enough among C++ developers, I intend to do a port to the C++11/14. Maybe a C++23 std::expected version is in the cards?

Catalogue of Conversion Functions

This section lists all the conversion functions for your convenience since it could be hard to find a relevant one in the single header library.

float-to-string conversion functions.

C++
// convert string to float
struct conv
{
  // convert std::string_view to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const string_view& str, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_float(const string_view& str, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert string to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const string& str, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_float(const string& str, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert const char* to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const char* str, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_float(const char* str, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert wstring_view to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const wstring_view& wstr, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);
					
  bool str_to_float(const wstring_view& wstr, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert wstring to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const wstring& wstr, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_float(const wstring& wstr, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert const wchar_t* to float
  //===================================
  bool str_to_float(const wchar_t* wstr, float&  num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_float(const wchar_t* wstr, double& num, 
                    chars_format fmt = general, errc* ec = nullptr);
};

float-to-string conversion functions.

C++
// convert float to string
struct conv
{
  // convert float to string
  //===================================
  bool float_to_str(float  num, string& str, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(double num, string& str, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(float  num, string& str, int precision);

  bool float_to_str(double num, string& str, int precision);

  // convert float to char*
  //===================================
  bool float_to_str(float  num, char* str, size_t len, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(double num, char* str, size_t len, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  // convert float to wstring
  //===================================
  bool float_to_str(float  num, wstring& str, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(double num, wstring& str, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(float  num, wstring& str, int precision);
 
  bool float_to_str(double num, wstring& str, int precision);

  // convert float to wchar_t*
  //===================================
  bool float_to_str(float  num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);

  bool float_to_str(double num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                    chars_format fmt = general);
};

string-to-number conversion functions.

C++
// convert string to number
struct conv
{
  // convert std::string_view to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string_view& str, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert string to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const string& str, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string& str, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string& str, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string& str, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string& str, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const string& str, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert const char* to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const char* str, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const char* str, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const char* str, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const char* str, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const char* str, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const char* str, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert wstring_view to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring_view& wstr, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert wstring to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wstring& wstr, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  // convert const wchar_t* to number
  //===================================
  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, int16_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, uint16_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, int32_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, uint32_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, int64_t&  num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);

  bool str_to_num(const wchar_t* wstr, uint64_t& num, 
                  int base = 10, errc* ec = nullptr);
};

number-to-string conversion functions.

C++
// convert number to string
struct conv
{
  // convert number to string
  //===================================
  bool num_to_str(int16_t  num, string& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint16_t num, string& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int32_t  num, string& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint32_t num, string& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int64_t  num, string& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint64_t num, string& str, int base = 10);

  // convert number to char*
  //===================================
  bool num_to_str(int16_t  num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint16_t num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int32_t  num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint32_t num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int64_t  num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint64_t num, char* str, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  // convert number to wstring
  //===================================
  bool num_to_str(int16_t  num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint16_t num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int32_t  num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint32_t num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int64_t  num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint64_t num, wstring& str, int base = 10);

  // convert number to wchar_t*
  //===================================
  bool num_to_str(int16_t  num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint16_t num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int32_t  num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint32_t num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(int64_t  num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);

  bool num_to_str(uint64_t num, wchar_t* wstr, size_t len, 
                  int base = 10);
};

You can ignore the naive wide string to narrow string conversion and vice versa. They are used internally by the above classes.

C++
// convert string to string
struct conv
{
  // convert wstring to string
  //===================================
  bool wstr_to_str(const wstring_view& view, string& str);

  bool wstr_to_str(const wstring& wstr, string& str);

  bool wstr_to_str(const wchar_t* wstr, string& str);

  // convert string to wstring
  //===================================
  bool str_to_wstr(const string_view& view, wstring& wstr);

  bool str_to_wstr(const string& str, wstring& wstr);

  bool str_to_wstr(const char* str, wstring& wstr);
};

History

  • 28th January, 2024: Version 2.0 release: Rename conv functions to meaningful names and put them under one conv structure
  • 15th April, 2023: Thanks to colins2 for fixing the warnings on g++ and clang++. Version 1.1 includes float to string conv() with precision.
  • 8th April, 2023: First release

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The MIT License


Written By
Software Developer (Senior)
Singapore Singapore
Shao Voon is from Singapore. His interest lies primarily in computer graphics, software optimization, concurrency, security, and Agile methodologies.

In recent years, he shifted focus to software safety research. His hobby is writing a free C++ DirectX photo slideshow application which can be viewed here.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Ștefan-Mihai MOGA27-Jan-24 19:56
professionalȘtefan-Mihai MOGA27-Jan-24 19:56 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Shao Voon Wong27-Jan-24 20:01
mvaShao Voon Wong27-Jan-24 20:01 
QuestionGot my 5 Pin
colins211-Apr-23 14:31
colins211-Apr-23 14:31 
AnswerRe: Got my 5 Pin
Shao Voon Wong11-Apr-23 19:27
mvaShao Voon Wong11-Apr-23 19:27 
GeneralRe: Got my 5 Pin
colins211-Apr-23 22:41
colins211-Apr-23 22:41 
GeneralRe: Got my 5 Pin
Shao Voon Wong12-Apr-23 2:01
mvaShao Voon Wong12-Apr-23 2:01 
GeneralRe: Got my 5 Pin
Shao Voon Wong14-Apr-23 21:05
mvaShao Voon Wong14-Apr-23 21:05 
GeneralRe: Got my 5 Pin
colins215-Apr-23 5:23
colins215-Apr-23 5:23 
I'll get the new version now then. I wasn't aware you could put the [[nodiscard]] there.

I'm sure it will be a useful library.
AnswerRe: Got my 5 Pin
BernardIE531722-Apr-23 10:50
BernardIE531722-Apr-23 10:50 
GeneralRe: Got my 5 Pin
Shao Voon Wong23-Apr-23 15:02
mvaShao Voon Wong23-Apr-23 15:02 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Praise Praise    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.