Sunday, March 4, 2012

boost::serialization - learning notes

My learning notes based on the very clear and detailed tutorial http://www.boost.org/doc/libs/1_49_0/libs/serialization/doc/index.html

boost serialization features

* deep copy of pointer fields
* properly deserialize pointers to shared data
* proper support if a field is an array i.e. bunch of polymorphic pointers to Base and Der
* derived class serialization will include base instance state
* data and code portable across platforms - depend only on ANSI C++ facilities.
* when a class definition changed, older files can still be imported to the new version of the class. Similar to a hardcoded java serailVersion
---- More advanced ----
* fine if a field is a STL-container
* special considerations (tutorials) for shared_ptr -- if a pointer field gives memory issues, convert it to a shared_ptr.
* special considerations (tutorials) for pimpl
* special considerations (tutorials) for xml serialization

In the simple GPS class (a serializable DTO), the class author must intrusively introduce a serialize() method, to be called by Hollywood during serialize/deserialize.

Intrusive solution is tailor-made by member function. Alternatively, one might opt for one-size-fit-all -- non-intrusive serialization for classes without changing class definition. Class must expose enough information to save/reconstruct instance state. In the simple GPS example, we presumed that the class had public members - not a common occurrence.

The actual rendering of serialized data is implemented in the archive classes (text or xml or binary...). Thus the stream of serialized data is a joint effort between 1) serialization magic and 2) the archive class selected. It is a key design decision that these two components be independent. Interfaces to all archive classes are all identical. Once serialization has been defined for a class, that class can be serialized to any type of archive.

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