Last Monday we discussed the idea of adding an extensible mechanism to detect the presence of an attribute to SG10's recommendations, based on Clang's __has_attribute feature. Two important observations:

1) Implementations have attribute syntaxes other than C++ attributes (both for historical reasons and as an ongoing concern to support attributes in C), and
2) We need a mechanism to determine whether the attribute-detection feature is available.

Point (1) implies that we should not reserve the global name __has_attribute for *only* C++ attributes, so we considered the idea of a macro that takes the syntactic form of the attribute as an argument, leading us to:


Option A:
---------

  __has_attribute([[deprecated]])
  __has_attribute(__attribute__((some_gnu_thing)))
  __has_attribute(__declspec(foobar))
  __has_attribute([clsid])

The natural way to address (2) with this model is to use a preprocessor defined(__has_attribute) check, matching our recommendation for __has_include. However, this presents a problem: that check will succeed for existing versions of Clang, but existing versions of Clang do not support an attribute-syntax argument to __has_attribute (only the name of a GNU __attribute__).

So, Option A would need to use either a feature-test macro (maybe __cpp_has_attribute), or a different macro name (maybe __has_attribute_syntax), in order to provide a way to portably check for the feature.


Option B:
---------

A simpler approach would be to acknowledge point (1) in the macro name, giving:

  __has_cpp_attribute ( attribute-token )

Programs would test for the existence of this feature in the preprocessor with defined(__has_cpp_attribute), consistent with how they would check for __has_include. Vendors could choose to augment this with __has_gnu_attribute, __has_declspec_attribute, ... for the other syntaxes.


At this point, I think Option B is superior to Option A. Therefore, my first draft of a suggested addition to our recommendations is the following:


Testing for the presence of an attribute: __has_cpp_attribute

[some introductory text]

Syntax

  has-attribute-expression:
    __has_cpp_attribute ( attribute-scoped-token )

Semantics

A has-attribute-expression shall appear only in the controlling constant expression of a #if or #elif directive ([cpp.cond] 16.1). The has-attribute-expression is replaced by the pp-number 1 if the implementation supports an attribute with the specified name, and by the pp-number 0 otherwise.

The #ifdef and #ifndef directives, and the defined conditional inclusion operator, shall treat __has_cpp_attribute as if it were the name of a defined macro. The identifier __has_cpp_attribute shall not appear in any context not mentioned in this section.

An implementation should only claim to support an attribute-token with no attribute-namespace if it follows the behavior specified by a draft of the C++ standard or of a technical specification produced by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG21. An implementation should only claim to support an attribute-token with an attribute-namespace if it follows the behavior specified by the vendor identified by the attribute-namespace.

[OPEN QUESTION: Do we want to provide recommendations like this last paragraph at all? If so, should we list the currently-know attribute-namespaces? Having a centralized list of them is useful, and this seems like a good place to maintain that list. Would it be in-scope for the features SG to maintain a list of the known vendor extension attributes?]

Example

This demonstrates a way to use the attribute [[deprecated]] only if it is available.

#ifdef __has_cpp_attribute
#  if __has_cpp_attribute(deprecated)
#    define ATTR_DEPRECATED(msg) [[deprecated(msg)]]
#  endif
#endif