A couple Python-like features in C++11

The new C++ standard includes a couple Python-like features that I ran across recently. There are other Python-like features in the new standard, but here I’ll discuss range-based for-loops and raw strings.
In Python you loop over lists rather than incrementing a loop counter variable. For example,

    for p in [2, 3, 5, 7, 11]:
        print p

Range-based for loops now let you do something similar in C++11:

    int primes[5] = {2, 3, 5, 7, 11};
    for (int &p : primes)
        cout << p << "n";

Also, Python has raw strings. If you preface a quoted string with R, the contents of the string is interpreted literally. For example,

    print "Hello\nworld"

will produce



    print R"Hello\nworld"

will produce


because the \n is no longer interpreted as a newline character but instead printed literally as two characters.

Raw strings in C++11 use R as well, but they also require a delimiter inside the quotation marks. For example,

    cout << R"(Hello\nworld)";

The C++ raw string syntax is a little harder to read than the Python counterpart since it requires parentheses. The advantage, however, is that such strings can contain double quotes since a double quote alone does not terminate the string. For example,

    cout << R"(Hello "world")";

would print

    Hello "world"

In Python this is unnecessary since single and double quotes are interchangeable; if you wanted double quotes inside your string, you’d use single quotes on the outside.

Note that raw strings in C++ require a capital R unlike Python that allows r or R.

The C++ features mentioned here are supported gcc 4.6.0. The MinGW version of gcc for Windows is available here. To use C++11 features in gcc, you must add the parameter -std=c++0x to the g++ command line. For example,

    g++ -std=c++0x hello.cpp

Visual Studio 2010 supports many of the new C++ features, but not the ones discussed here.

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8 thoughts on “A couple Python-like features in C++11

  1. Nice writeup, John. I just wanted to point out that the style of for iterating over a sequence has been around way before Python, at least since the Bourne shell. Also, the syntax for C++11’s range-based for is actually more reminiscent of Java’s for-each loop (not that you claimed otherwise).

  2. Oh great: yet another raw string syntax to learn/ Shouldn’t complain, I guess. At least it’s there.

  3. Nitpicking here: Visual Studio 2010 supports many of the new C++ features, but it not the ones discussed here.
    Should be: Visual Studio 2010 supports many of the new C++ features, but not the ones discussed here.

  4. Failed to mention in my previous comment. I always like the articles you write :)
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  5. I never liked C– and this post cannot change anything.
    Look at C– template structure and sample codes, it is a piece of rubbish.

  6. Hi John,

    I just stumbled upon this post and wanted to share a new feature in C++11 as well by modifying your iteration snippet from above. If you want C++ to automatically pick the correct iterator type for you, you can use the auto keyword (note the different meaning in C++ compared to C: http://en.cppreference.com/w/cpp/keyword/auto). This is very helpful when having to iterate over template containers. When coming from Python, one might also like the lambda functions in C++11.

    Thanks for your post!

    using namespace std;
    int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
    int primes[] = {2, 3, 5, 7, 11};

    // Iteration with explicit type specification
    for (int &p : primes)
    cout << p << endl;

    // Iteration with implicit type specification
    // (using "auto" keyword)
    for (auto &p : primes)
    cout << p << endl;

    // Iteration with lambda function
    auto my_lambda = [](int &p){ cout << p << endl; };
    for (auto &p : primes)

    // Iteration using "for_each" algorithm
    // and lambda function
    for_each(primes, primes+5, my_lambda);

    return 0;

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