Comp202 Transitions in Programming:C++

Online lecture while the instructor is at a conference


This online "lecture" will cover file handling in c++ and the object oriented/system independant approach to file handling used in the Qt libraries. Please select whatever method makes the most sense to you when doing your project.

Next week we'll look at another feature of c++ which Java does quite differently: the callback function.

Basic C++ file handling:

The c++ standard library provides three classes for reading and writing files. Note that for this 'lecture' I'll only worry about text files. I don't want to get into endian issues or other binary file issues.
  1. ofstream
    1. for writing to a file only
  2. fstream
    1. for file read/writes
  3. ifstream
    1. reading from a file only
All three classes wrap an object oriented framework around the c-style system calls. Each has their own header file, but fstream includes the other two so often tutorials will skip inclusion of ifstream and ofstream.

ofstream extends ostream, the class for the std::cout object. (and ifstream extends and class which extends ... istream, the class of cin).

ofstream has a constructor with default paremeters. (There is one constructor with default values filled in for the parameters so if you don't pass parameters, some will be filled in for you.)

The constructor can take now parameters - in which case it doesn't open any file or it could take a char* in which case it opens the file named by the char*.
There are also  other very commonly used methods
once you have the file opened, you can write to it.

For example using this I can write:
#include <fstream>
using namespace std;

int main(){
    ofstream file;"demo.txt");
    file<< "what shall we do?"<<endl;
    for (int i = 0; i<9; i++)
        file << i << std::endl;

Which produces the following output in the file called demo.txt
what shall we do?

If you want to read from a file it is a little more complex. One easy way to get the data is to use the overloaded streaming operator >>. This operator will bring in one line of data and put it into your string variable, then you need to concatinate it together.
The program listing below shows the use of this.

#include <fstream>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main(){
    ifstream file;
    string data;
    string line;"demo.txt");
    while (!file.eof()){

    cout << data <<endl;

The program was run on the file demo.txt created by the program above to give the following output.


You could maintain the line structure of the original by concatinating a line break on to the data string between each line concatination.

Using Qt classes to read and write files

Qt has several classes to read and write files as well. I'll introduce 2 of them.


QFile is much like the java file class. It encapsulates a file on a filesystem. It has several interesting methods


QTextStream is a thread safe class for doing reading and writing of text - in our case to and from files. I'll introduce the methods I think will be most useful for you and then add references at the end.

QTextStream has lots of constructors, but I think the most useful is the one that takes a File object (technically the parent class of QFiles) as a parameter and will act as a stream on that file

there is an atEnd method in the QTextStream that works just like the file version

Once you have the stream opened, just use the streaming operators >> to get data from the file to a variable and << to write back to the file. Be sure to call close on the original file when you are done.


You might find my references useful. I prepared this by reading the Qt Documentation and some of the tutorials
ofstream api documentation
ifstream api documentation.

Tutorial for file reading
QFile API reference page
QText Stream API Reference Page