What is C++? | Friend function in C++

What is C++? | Friend function in C++

The friend function in C++ can access the private and protected members of a class, despite being defined outside of the class. In a class, friend functions are declared using the keyword “friend,” but they are not members of the class. 

We will discuss the friend function in C++ in this article

Introduction

In C++, a friend function is a function that is defined outside of a class but can access the private and protected members of the class. Within the class definition, the keyword “friend” is used to declare the function as a friend of the class. 

Friend functions are not members of the class, but they can interact with it like member functions. The purpose of these functions is to allow external functions to access the internal data of a class without exposing that data to the public. It is nevertheless important to use friend functions with caution as they may cause the encapsulation of the class to be broken, resulting in a stronger coupling between the class and the external function.

C++

C++ is a powerful programming language that is widely used in a variety of applications, including operating systems, web browsers, and video games. As an extension of the C programming language, it adds features such as object-oriented programming, templates, and exception handling.

Example

#include <iostream>

using namespace std;

int main() {

  int width, height.

  cout << “Enter the width and height of the rectangle: “;

  cin >> width >> height;

  int area = width * height;

  cout << “The area of the rectangle is ” << area << endl;

 

  return 0;

}

What is the Friend function in C++?

In C++, a friend function is a function that is defined outside of a class but can access the class’s private and protected members. Using the keyword “friend” within the definition of the class, the function is declared as a friend of the class.

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Friend functions are not member functions of the class, but they can similarly interact with the class to member functions.

Example

#include <iostream>

class A {

private:

  int x;

public:

  A(int x) : x(x) {}

  // Declare the function ‘friend’ of class A

  friend void printX(A& a);

};

// The function ‘printX’ is a friend of class A

void printX(A& a) {

  std::cout << a.x << std::endl;

}

int main() {

  A a(10);

  // The function ‘printX’ can access the private member ‘x’ of class A

  printX(a);  // Outputs: 10

  return 0;

}

In this example, the printX function is a friend of the A class. This means that the printX function has access to the private member x of the A class. The printX function can then access and print the value of x for a given object of the A class.

Advantages of using friend functions in C++:

  1. Allows access to private and protected members of a class: 

In C++, a friend function has the advantage of allowing access to a class’s private and protected members, which is not possible with normal member functions. When it is necessary to perform operations on the private data of a class, but it is not appropriate to make the data public, this technique can be useful.

  1. Improves code readability:

By allowing a friend function to access a class’ private data, it is possible to move complex operations or algorithms that operate on the class’s private data into the friend function. It is possible to improve the readability of the code by separating the implementation details from the main logic of the class in this way.

  1. Allows separation of concerns: 

Sometimes, it may be necessary to perform operations on the private data of a class that is not directly related to its main functionality. The use of a friend function allows these concerns to be separated into separate functions, which improves the modularity and maintainability of the code.

  1. Can be used to implement operator overloading

The use of friend functions can be used to implement operator overloading in C++. This allows the programmer to define custom behavior for operators such as +, -, *, and others when they are used in conjunction with objects of the same class.

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Disadvantages of using friend functions in C++:

  1. Breaks encapsulation: 

C++ friend functions break class encapsulation, which is a major disadvantage. Encapsulation is a way of bundling data and functions within a single unit (a class). A friend function can access the private data of a class, which compromises its encapsulation.

  1. Can lead to code complexity:

The excessive use of friend functions can result in code complexity and make it more difficult to understand and maintain.

  1. Can lead to security issues: 

It is possible to introduce security vulnerabilities into code by allowing a friend function to access the private data of a class.

  1. This can lead to maintenance issues: 

A friend function can potentially break the code of the class in which it is declared as a friend if it is modified or removed. This may lead to maintenance issues and make updating and modifying the code more difficult.

Conclusion

The C++ programming language was developed in the early 1980s and is a high-level, general-purpose programming language. The language extends the C programming language and supports object-oriented, procedural, and generic programming paradigms. The C++ programming language is widely used in a variety of applications, including operating systems, web browsers, and video games.

C++ friend functions are functions that are defined outside of classes but can access the private and protected members of the class in which they are declared. A friend function may be useful in certain situations where it is necessary to perform operations on the private data of a class, but it is not appropriate to make the data public. However, friend functions can also create code complexity and security issues, as well as compromise the encapsulation of the class in which they are declared.

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