Exceptions: throw, try and catch

Exception Handling Best Practices

What are some best practices for exception handling in C++?

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When it comes to exception handling in C++, there are several best practices to keep in mind. These practices help improve code clarity, maintainability, and robustness. Here are some key best practices:

Use exceptions for exceptional conditions

  • Exceptions should be used to handle exceptional or error conditions that cannot be easily handled by normal program flow.
  • Avoid using exceptions for regular control flow or expected conditions.

Throw exceptions by value, catch by reference

  • When throwing exceptions, throw them by value, as it allows the compiler to optimize the exception handling mechanism.
  • When catching exceptions, catch them by reference (const reference) to avoid unnecessary copying and to handle derived exceptions correctly.

Use specific exception types

  • Use specific exception types that accurately represent the nature of the error or exceptional condition.
  • Avoid using generic exceptions like¬†std::exception¬†or¬†catch (...)¬†unless necessary, as they can make error handling less precise and harder to understand.

Provide meaningful error messages

  • When throwing exceptions, provide clear and informative error messages that describe the exceptional condition.
  • Include relevant details such as the location of the error, input values, or any other context that can help with debugging and error handling.

Clean up resources in exceptions

  • Ensure that resources (e.g., memory, file handles) are properly cleaned up and released in case of exceptions.
  • Use RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization) techniques, such as smart pointers and RAII classes, to automatically handle resource cleanup.

Don't use exceptions for normal error handling

  • Exceptions should not be used for normal error handling or expected error conditions.
  • For anticipated error cases, consider using alternative error handling techniques like error codes or optional values.

Avoid throwing exceptions from destructors

  • Destructors should not throw exceptions, as they are called during stack unwinding and can lead to unexpected behavior and resource leaks.
  • If a destructor needs to perform operations that may throw, consider using a separate function or a different design approach.

Document exception behavior

  • Clearly document the exception behavior of your functions and classes.
  • Specify which exceptions can be thrown, under what conditions, and what the caller should expect in terms of error handling and resource management.

Here's an example that demonstrates some of these best practices:

#include <iostream>
#include <stdexcept>

class NetworkException
  : public std::runtime_error {
  explicit NetworkException(
    const std::string& message)
      : std::runtime_error(message) {}

void connectToServer(const std::string& url) {
  // Simulating a network connection
  if (url.empty()) {
    throw NetworkException(
      "Invalid URL: URL cannot be empty");
  // Perform network connection logic
  std::cout << "Connected to server: " << url;

int main() {
  try {
  } catch (const NetworkException& ex) {
    std::cerr << "Network error: " << ex.what();
    // Handle the network exception appropriately
Network error: Invalid URL: URL cannot be empty

In this example:

  • We define a specific exception type¬†NetworkException¬†that inherits from¬†std::runtime_error¬†to represent network-related errors.
  • The¬†connectToServer¬†function throws a¬†NetworkException¬†with a meaningful error message if the URL is empty.
  • In the¬†main¬†function, we catch the¬†NetworkException¬†by reference and handle it appropriately.

By following these best practices, you can write more robust and maintainable code that effectively handles exceptions in C++.

Answers to questions are automatically generated and may not have been reviewed.

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