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Member Declarations within a Class or Interface

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Member Declarations within a Class or Interface
The declaration of properties and operators has been extensively reworked from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008, hiding the underlying implementation details that were exposed in the Managed Extensions design. Event declarations have been modified as well.

Under the category of changes that have no Managed Extensions support, static constructors can now be defined out-of-line (they were required to be defined inline within Managed Extensions), and the notion of a delegating constructor has been introduced.

In This Section
Property Declaration
Discusses changes to property declarations.
Property Index Declaration
Discusses changes to indexed property declarations.
Delegates and Events
Discusses changes to the syntax for declaring delegates and events.
Sealing a Virtual Function
Discusses changes to the syntax for sealing a function.
Overloaded Operators
Discusses changes to operator overloading.
Changes to Conversion Operators
Discusses changes to conversion operators.
Explicit Override of an Interface Member
Discusses changes to the method for explicitly overriding an interface member.
Private Virtual Functions
Discusses changes in the way private virtual functions are handled in derived classes.
Static Const Int Linkage Is No Longer Literal
Discusses changes in the way static const integral members are linked and how to explicitly declare a constant using the new literal keyword.

Property Declaration
The way to declare a property in a managed class has changed from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008.

In the Managed Extensions design, each set or get property accessor is specified as an independent method. The declaration of each method is prefixed with the __property keyword. The method name begins with either set_ or get_ followed by the actual name of the property (as visible to the user). Thus, a Vector providing an x coordinate get property would name it get_x and the user would invoke it as x. This naming convention and separate specification of methods actually reflects the underlying runtime implementation of the property. For example, here is our Vector with a set of coordinate properties:

Copy Code
public __gc __sealed class Vector {
   __property double get_x(){ return _x; }
   __property double get_y(){ return _y; }
   __property double get_z(){ return _z; }

   __property void set_x( double newx ){ _x = newx; }
   __property void set_y( double newy ){ _y = newy; }
   __property void set_z( double newz ){ _z = newz; }

This spreads out the functionality associated with a property and requires the user to lexically unify the associated sets and gets. Moreover, it is verbose. In the new syntax, which is more like that of C#, the property keyword is followed by the type of the property and its unadorned name. The set and get access methods are placed within a block following the property name. Note that unlike C#, the signature of the access method is specified. For example, here is the code example above translated into the new syntax.

Copy Code
public ref class Vector sealed { 
   property double x {
      double get() {
         return _x;

      void set( double newx ) {
         _x = newx;
   } // Note: no semi-colon

If the access methods of the property reflect distinct access levels such as a public get and a private or protected set, an explicit access label can be specified. By default, the access level of the property reflects that of the enclosing access level. For example, in the above definition of Vector, both the get and set methods are public. To make the set method protected or private, the definition would be revised as follows:

Copy Code
public ref class Vector sealed { 
   property double x {
      double get() {
         return _x;

      void set( double newx ) {
         _x = newx;

   } // note: extent of private culminates here 

// note: dot is a public method of Vector
double dot( const Vector^ wv );

// etc.

The scope of an access keyword within a property extends until either the closing brace of the property or the specification of an additional access keyword. It does not extend beyond the definition of the property to the enclosing access level within which the property is defined. In the above declaration, for example, Vector::dot() is a public method.

Writing the set/get properties for the three Vector coordinates involves three steps:

  1. declare a private state member of the appropriate type.
  2. return it when the user wishes to get its value.
  3. assign it the new value.

In the new syntax, a shorthand property syntax is available which automates this usage pattern:

Copy Code
public ref class Vector sealed { 
   // equivalent shorthand property syntax
   property double x; 
   property double y;
   property double z;

The interesting side effect of the shorthand property syntax is that although the backstage state member is generated by the compiler, it is not accessible within the class except through the set/get accessors.

Property Index Declaration
The syntax for declaring an indexed property has changed from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008.

The two primary shortcoming of the Managed Extensions language support of indexed properties is the inability to provide class-level subscripting; that is, all indexed properties are required to be given a name, and thus there is no way, for example, to provide a managed subscript operator that can be directly applied to a Vector or Matrix class object. A second less significant shortcoming is that it is visually difficult to distinguish a property from an indexed property the number of parameters is the only indication. Finally, indexed properties suffer from the same problems as those of non-indexed properties the accessors are not treated as an atomic unit, but separated into individual methods. For example:

Copy Code
public __gc class Vector;
public __gc class Matrix {
   float mat[,];

   __property void set_Item( int r, int c, float value);
   __property float get_Item( int r, int c );

   __property void set_Row( int r, Vector* value );
   __property Vector* get_Row( int r );

As you can see here, the indexers are distinguished only by the additional parameters to specify a two or single dimension index. In the new syntax, the indexers are distinguished by the bracket ([,]) following the name of the indexer and indicating the number and type of each index:

Copy Code
public ref class Vector {};
public ref class Matrix {
   array^ mat;

   property float Item [int,int] {
      float get( int r, int c );
      void set( int r, int c, float value );

   property Vector^ Row [int] {
      Vector^ get( int r );
      void set( int r, Vector^ value );

To indicate a class level indexer that can be applied directly to objects of the class in the new syntax, the default keyword is reused to substitute for an explicit name. For example:

Copy Code
public ref class Matrix {
   array^ mat;

   // ok: class level indexer now
   //     Matrix mat 
   //     mat[ 0, 0 ] = 1; 
   // invokes the set accessor of the default indexer 

   property float default [int,int] {
      float get( int r, int c );
      void set( int r, int c, float value );

   property Vector^ Row [int] {
      Vector^ get( int r );
      void set( int r, Vector^ value );

In the new syntax, when the default indexed property is specified, the two following names are reserved: get_Item and set_Item. This is because these are the underlying names generated for the default indexed property.

Note that there is no simple index syntax analogous to the simple property syntax.

Delegates and Events
The way to declare delegates and events has changed from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008.

The double underscore is no longer needed, as shown in the following sample. Here a sample code in Managed Extensions:

Copy Code
__delegate void ClickEventHandler(int, double);
__delegate void DblClickEventHandler(String*);

__gc class EventSource {
   __event ClickEventHandler* OnClick;  
   __event DblClickEventHandler* OnDblClick;  

The same code in the new syntax looks as follows:

Copy Code
delegate void ClickEventHandler( int, double );
delegate void DblClickEventHandler( String^ );

ref class EventSource {
   event ClickEventHandler^ OnClick; 
   event DblClickEventHandler^ OnDblClick; 

Events (and delegates) are reference types, which is clear in the new syntax because of the use of the hat (^). Events support both an explicit declaration syntax and the trivial form shown in the preceding code. In the explicit form, the user specifies the add, raise, and remove methods associated with the event. (Only the add and remove methods are required; the raise method is optional.)

Under Managed Extensions, if you provide these methods, you do not also provide an explicit event declaration, but you must decide on a name for the event that is not present. Each method is specified in the form add_EventName, raise_EventName, and remove_EventName, as in the following example taken from the Managed Extensions specification:

Copy Code
// explicit implementations of add, remove, raise
public __delegate void f(int);
public __gc struct E {
   f* _E;
   E() { _E = 0; }

   __event void add_E1(f* d) { _E += d; }

   static void Go() {
      E* pE = new E;
      pE->E1 += new f(pE, &E::handler);
      pE->E1 -= new f(pE, &E::handler);

   __event void raise_E1(int i) {
      if (_E)

   __event void remove_E1(f* d) {
      _E -= d;

The new syntax simplifies the declaration, as the following translation demonstrates. An event specifies the two or three methods enclosed in a pair of braces and placed immediately after the declaration of the event and its associated delegate type, as shown here:

Copy Code
public delegate void f( int );
public ref struct E {
   f^ _E; // delegates are also reference types

   E() {  // note the replacement of 0 with nullptr!
      _E = nullptr; 

   // the new aggregate syntax of an explicit event declaration
   event f^ E1 {
      void add( f^ d ) {
         _E += d;

      void remove( f^ d ) {
         _E -= d;

      void raise( int i ) {
         if ( _E )
            _E( i );

   static void Go() {
      E^ pE = gcnew E;
      pE->E1 += gcnew f( pE, &E::handler );
      pE->E1( 17 ); 
      pE->E1 -= gcnew f( pE, &E::handler );
      pE->E1( 17 ); 
Sealing a Virtual Function
The syntax for sealing a virtual function has changed from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008.

The __sealed keyword is used in Managed Extensions to modify either a reference type, disallowing subsequent derivation from it (see Declaration of a Managed Class Type), or to modify a virtual function, disallowing subsequent overriding of the method in a derived class. For example:

Copy Code
__gc class base { public: virtual void f(); };
__gc class derived : public base {
   __sealed void f();

In this example, derived::f() overrides the base::f() instance based on the exact match of the function prototype. The __sealed keyword indicates that a subsequent class inherited from the derived class cannot provide an override of derived::f().

In the new syntax, sealed is placed after the signature rather than being allowed to appear anywhere before the actual function prototype, as was previously allowed. In addition, the use of sealed requires an explicit use of the virtual keyword as well. That is, the correct translation of derived, above, is as follows:

Copy Code
ref class derived: public base {
   virtual void f() override sealed;

The absence of the virtual keyword in this instance results in an error. In the new syntax, the contextual keyword abstract can be used in place of the =0 to indicate a pure virtual function. This was not supported within Managed Extensions. For example:

Copy Code
__gc class base { public: virtual void f()=0; };

can be rewritten as

Copy Code
ref class base { public: virtual void f() abstract; };
Overloaded Operators
Operator overloading has changed significantly from Managed Extensions for C++ to Visual C++ 2008.

In the declaration of a reference type, for example, rather than using the native operator+ syntax, you explicitly write out the underlying internal name of the operator in this case, op_Addition. In addition, the invocation of an operator has to be explicitly invoked through that name, thus precluding the two primary benefits of operator overloading: (a) the intuitive syntax, and (b) the ability to intermix new types with existing types. For example:

Copy Code
public __gc __sealed class Vector {
   Vector( double x, double y, double z );

   static bool    op_Equality( const Vector*, const Vector* );
   static Vector* op_Division( const Vector*, double );
   static Vector* op_Addition( const Vector*, const Vector* );
   static Vector* op_Subtraction( const Vector*, const Vector* );

int main()
   Vector *pa = new Vector( 0.231, 2.4745, 0.023 );
   Vector *pb = new Vector( 1.475, 4.8916, -1.23 ); 

   Vector *pc1 = Vector::op_Addition( pa, pb );
   Vector *pc2 = Vector::op_Subtraction( pa, pc1 );
   Vector *pc3 = Vector::op_Division( pc1, pc2->x );

   if ( Vector::op_Equality( pc1, pc2 ))

In the new syntax, the usual expectations of a native C++ programmer are restored, both in the declaration and use of the static operators. Here is the Vector class translated into the new syntax:

Copy Code
public ref class Vector sealed {
   Vector( double x, double y, double z );

   static bool    operator ==( const Vector^, const Vector^ );
   static Vector^ operator /( const Vector^, double );
   static Vector^ operator +( const Vector^, const Vector^ );
   static Vector^ operator -( const Vector^, const Vector^ );

int main()
   Vector^ pa = gcnew Vector( 0.231, 2.4745, 0.023 );
   Vector^ pb = gcnew Vector( 1.475,4.8916,-1.23 );

   Vector^ pc1 = pa + pb;
   Vector^ pc2 = pa - pc1;
   Vector^ pc3 = pc1 / pc2->x;

   if ( pc1 == pc2 )

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