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General Discussion

19 January, 2016 - 11:41

In most programming languages a string is typically a string of characters (string them along in a series). The rules for handling strings vary from language to language. Technically, there is no string data type in the C++ programming language. However, the concept of a string data type makes it easy to handle stings of character data. Associated with object oriented programming the string class has been added to C++ as a standard part of the programming language.

Most data is more complex than just one character, integer, etc. Programming languages develop other methods to represent and store data that are more complex. A complex data type of array is first most students encounter. An array is a sequenced collection of elements of the same data type with a single identifier name. This definition perfectly describes our string data type concept. The simplest array is called a one-dimensional array; also know as a list because we usually list the members or elements vertically. However, strings are viewed as a one-dimensional array that visualize as listed horizontally. Strings are an array of character data.

In the "C" programming language all strings were handled as an array of characters that end in an ASCII null character (the value 0 or the first character in the ASCII character code set). This changed with the implementation of the string class within C++ where strings are stored as a length controlled array with a maximum length of 255 characters. This string class implementation also allowed programmers to use the reserved word string as if it were a data type. Commonly used operators and some alternatives for the string class are summarized in the following table:

Table 16.1 Summary of commonly used operators and some alternatives

C++ Operator

Operator Name

String Class Implementation



Same as for standard data types

<, >, <= , >=, ==, !=

six relational

Same as for standard data types



Concatenation or Append


Usage how many bytes a data type occupies

Implemented using a class member function named length. Format: identifier_name. length()
NOTE: The period between the identifier name and the function name is the class member operator.

. the period

class member

Used in conjunction with class functions

Most other operators are not allowed and basically do not make sense for a string data type. The above items are demonstrated in the following program.