17.5 — std::string assignment and swapping

String assignment

The easiest way to assign a value to a string is to the use the overloaded operator= function. There is also an assign() member function that duplicates some of this functionality.

string& string::operator= (const string& str)
string& string::assign (const string& str)
string& string::operator= (const char* str)
string& string::assign (const char* str)
string& string::operator= (char c)

  • These functions assign values of various types to the string.
  • These functions return *this so they can be “chained”.
  • Note that there is no assign() function that takes a single char.

Sample code:


Six Six

The assign() member function also comes in a few other flavors:

string& string::assign (const string& str, size_type index, size_type len)

  • Assigns a substring of str, starting from index, and of length len
  • Throws an out_of_range exception if the index is out of bounds
  • Returns *this so it can be “chained”.

Sample code:



string& string::assign (const char* chars, size_type len)

  • Assigns len characters from the C-style array chars
  • Ignores special characters (including ‘’)
  • Throws an length_error exception if the result exceeds the maximum number of characters
  • Returns *this so it can be “chained”.

Sample code:



This function is potentially dangerous and it’s use is not recommended.

string& string::assign (size_type len, char c)

  • Assigns len occurrences of the character c
  • Throws an length_error exception if the result exceeds the maximum number of characters
  • Returns *this so it can be “chained”.

Sample code:




If you have two strings and want to swap their values, there are two functions both named swap() that you can use.

void string::swap (string &str)
void swap (string &str1, string &str2)

  • Both functions swap the value of the two strings. The member function swaps *this and str, the global function swaps str1 and str2.
  • These functions are efficient and should be used instead of assignments to perform a string swap.

Sample code:


red blue
blue red
red blue

17.6 -- std::string appending
17.4 -- std::string character access and conversion to c-style strings

2 comments to 17.5 — std::string assignment and swapping

  • abcd

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks a lot for these wonderful tutorials. Can you please add some tutorials on Vector, other Container classes, Shared_ptr, and other advanced C++ topics?

    Thanks a lot again.

  • ap
    string sStr1("red");
    string sStr2("blue);
    cout << sStr1 << " " << sStr2 << endl;
    swap(sStr1, sStr2);
    cout << sStr1 << " " << sStr2 << endl;
    cout << sStr1 << " " << sStr2 << endl;

    from last code block u forgot to close "blue with ..."...

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