Blog 2024 01 31 C++23 likes to move it!

C++23 likes to move it!

C++23 is going to bring us a few changes regarding move operations. It mostly means extended support in the standard library, but there is also one change directly in the language. Let’s start with that.

Simpler implicit move

P2266R3 is a quite great proposal both in terms of its high-quality explanation and the amount of proposed changes in wording. I think if you’re interested in exploring a readable proposal, this might be the one.

Let me try to summarize it briefly.

Since the introduction of move semantics and rvalue references in C++11, we can return move-only types by value:

struct Widget {

Widget one(Widget w) {
    return w;

C++14 extended this support so that even converting constructors accepting an rvalue type can be called to invoke an implicit move.

struct RRefTaker {
    RRefTaker(Widget&&); // here is the converting constructor

RRefTaker two(Widget w) {
    return w;

As you can see, the two examples follow the same logic, in a sense they are quite symmetric.

C++20 introduced some changes in copy elision and overload resolution. As a consequence two() would work even if w was taken as an rvalue (Widget&&). But because of a wording issue, if it had to take a Widget&& and return the same Widget&& we would get an error. The original wording is rather complex as it’s also claimed in the abstract of P2266R3. The proposal fixes the mentioned defect and also simplifies the specification by saying that a returned move-eligible id-expression is always an xvalue.

In C++, an eXpiring value (xvalue in short) represents an expiring or about-to-expire value. It typically occurs in the context of a move operation or when the value is no longer needed in its current location. Examples include the result of std::move() and operator[] applied to an rvalue.

GCC 13 and Clang 13 already support this!


P0288R9 addresses a request that has been opened in 2014. Nobody can say that this is a reckless change!

std::move_only_function is like std::function, but for move-only types. It’s a wrapper for any constructible callable targets, such as functions, lambdas, function objects or bind expressions. The wrapper can only be moved as its copy assignment operator and copy constructor are deleted. It also supports cv/ref/noexcept qualifiers in function types.

You (will) find this new utility in the <functional> wrapper.

GCC 12 and MSVC 19.32 already support this!

Given that this has been awaited for a long time and that std::function has a bad reputation, I plan to experiment with std::move_only_function in a few weeks and report back the results..

Adding move-only types support for comparison concepts

C++20 introduced concepts and even though we have move semantics in C++ since C++11, many important concepts do not support move-only types, such as std::equality_comparable_with, totally_ordered_with or three_way_comparable_with.

The reason is often that these concepts are implemented in a way that two const& types have to be convertible to the non-reference std::common_reference_t which means that the two types have to be copyable.

P2404R3 aims to relaxing this requriement by replacing common_reference_with<const remove_reference_t<T>&, const remove_reference_t<U>&> with comparison-common-type-with <T, U> in std::three_way_comparable_with and in std::equality_comparable_with. It also relaxes the preconditions in std::totally_ordered_with so that it supports move-only types.

comparison-common-type-with <T, U> is an exposition-only concept intended to determine that there exists a common supertype of T and U even if they are move-only types.

Exposition-only means that they are not required by the standard, they just illustrate the intentions of the authors. An exposition-only definition is also a hint to the implementers about what the committee had in mind.

MSVC 19.36 already supports this!

Relaxing range adaptors to allow for move-only types

Even though ranges were introduced to C++ many years later than move-semantics, still several range adaptors require that the types they store are copy-constructible.

P2494R2 slightly modifies the views that currently use the exposition-only type copyable-box for user-provided predicates. That slight modification is that copyable-box is renamed to movable-box, but no constraints are modified for the changed views.

It goes further though for transform-like views, where requirements on invocables are relaxed. Now their invocables don’t have to be copy-constructible anymore, move-constructability is enough. These views are:

  • single_view,
  • transform_view,
  • zip_transform_view, and
  • adjacent_transform_view.

MSVC 19.34 already supports this!

std::move_iterator should not always be input_iterator

In order to understand the goals of this paper, let’s start with a bit of C++ history. In C++17, you could only subtract two iterators, if they were random access iterators. At the same time, there was no other way to get the size of a range.

If you want a short reminder on what iterators are, read this article.

C++20 improved this situation and even input iterators can be subtracted from their ranges’ “end” marked by a so-called sized_sentinel_for object and the standardized ranges can provide their size in a cheaper way than subtraction. Given that the range is a so-called sized range.

On the other hand, if the range is unsized, there are some issues. If a range is unsized, you cannot construct a vector out of it by one single allocation, since we don’t know the size. Instead, the compiler has to loop over the range and keep pushing back to the vector.

some_unsized_forward_range | views::move | ranges::to<vector>()

In C++20, move_iterator<T*> is an input_iterator which can be problematic. You can go through input_iterators normally multiple times without a problem, but you cannot do the same with move_iterator because if you do so, the second time you already pass through moved-from objects. Therefore library authors have to be very cautious and recognize if they deal with move_iterator.

P2520R0 fixes this problem by not having move_iterator<Iterator>::interator_concept always input_iterator_tag. iterator_concept will be based on the actual Iterator. iterator_concept will only be input_iterator_tag if Iterator doesn’t model random_access_iterator, bidirectional_iterator or forward_iterator. If Iterator models one of those then the concept will be the corresponding tag (<iterator concept>_tag).

As such, the above example can work fine with a single allocation, because if Iterator is a random access iterator (such as for T*), then the compiler can get the size without accessing any item, without passing through the range.

Clang 17 and MSVC 19.34 already support this!


In this article, we reviewed how C++23 relaxes many requirements. More and more operations that required copy-constructible objects now will only require move-constructible ones. These are quite logical changes that are also good for performance.

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