C++ Shared Library with Templates: Undefined symbols error


I'm trying to link to a shared library with a template class, but it is giving me "undefined symbols" errors. I've condensed the problem to about 20 lines of code.


template <class Type> class myclass {
  Type x;
  myclass() { x=0; }
  void setx(Type y);
  Type  getx();


#include "shared.h"
template <class Type> void myclass<Type>::setx(Type y) { x = y; }
template <class Type> Type myclass<Type>::getx() { return x; }


#include <iostream>
#include "shared.h"
using namespace std;

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
   myclass<int> m;
   cout << m.getx() << endl;
   cout << m.getx() << endl;
   return 0;

This is how I compile the library:

g++ -fPIC -c shared.cpp -o shared.o
g++ -dynamiclib -Wl,-dylib_install_name -Wl,libshared.dylib -o libshared.dylib shared.o

And the main program:

g++ -c main.cpp
g++ -o main  main.o -L. -lshared

Only to get the following errors:

Undefined symbols:
"myclass<int>::getx()", referenced from:
  _main in main.o
  _main in main.o
"myclass<int>::setx(int)", referenced from:
  _main in main.o

If I remove the 'template' stuff in shared.h/cpp, and replace them with just 'int', everything works fine. Also, if I just copy&paste the template class code right into main.cpp, and don't link to the shared library, everything works as well.

How can I get a template class like this to work through a shared library?

I'm using MacOS 10.5 with GCC 4.0.1.

Best Answer

In addition to the other answers, you can explicitly instantiate template classes. This is only useful if you know beforehand what types the template parameters may assume. You instantiate the template with all these types in the library.

For your example to compile, just add the following to the end of shared.cpp:

// Instantiate myclass for the supported template type parameters
template class myclass<int>;
template class myclass<long>;

This instantiates the template with Type=int and places the instantiated code in the shared library. Add as many explicit instantiations as you need, for all the types you need.

Again, if you want to be able to instantiate the template with any arbitrary Type parameter, then you must add the definitions to the header file, so that the compiler knows the source code of the template when instantiating it in other compilation units.

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