FTL Allocators

Allocators, by anyone’s standards, are the most difficult and ‘tacked-on’ feature of the STL and it is because of this that different implementations have very different opinions on how they should be implemented.

Obviously we want the FTL allocator model to be as simple as possible to actively encourage people to create their own custom classes and greatly increase the efficiency of the library.

The first decision made was to use only static member functions (inline with the Sgi implementation) as opposed to an allocation object which is created and contained within the container. This was done due to concerns about adding additional objects to classes that need to be as small as possible and not contain anything that isn’t strictly necessary.

The second decision related to the actual use of the allocator. An allocator should only ever do two things, allocate memory when needed and deallocate memory when it’s finished with. There should be no re-allocation available due to worries of fragmentation and there should be no need to define additional and superficial interfaces.

Unfortunately this is not perfect.

Since a collection of containers will use the same allocator model, you cannot have an individual container that has an individual allocator without creating one per object. I did initially pass a unique container ID to the allocator which would allow people to work around this but removed it for simplicity. If this does become a problem for developers in the future then I will consider reading this feature.

Other than that, it has so far proved to be a success and people have already started creating their own allocators for efficiency and debugging reasons amongst others. Hopefully the other alterations to the STL standard will be as successful!

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