Difference of keywords 'typename' and 'class' in templates?

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For templates I have seen both declarations:

template < typename T >
template < class T >

What's the difference?

And what exactly do those keywords mean in the following example (taken from the German Wikipedia article about templates)?

template < template < typename, typename > class Container, typename Type >
class Example
     Container< Type, std::allocator < Type > > baz;

typename and class are interchangeable in the basic case of specifying a template:

template<class T>
class Foo


template<typename T>
class Foo

are equivalent.

Having said that, there are specific cases where there is a difference between typename and class.

The first one is in the case of dependent types. typename is used to declare when you are referencing a nested type that depends on another template parameter, such as the typedef in this example:

template<typename param_t>
class Foo
    typedef typename param_t::baz sub_t;

The second one you actually show in your question, though you might not realize it:

template < template < typename, typename > class Container, typename Type >

When specifying a template template, the class keyword MUST be used as above -- it is not interchangeable with typename in this case (note: since C++17 both keywords are allowed in this case).

You also must use class when explicitly instantiating a template:

template class Foo<int>;

I'm sure that there are other cases that I've missed, but the bottom line is: these two keywords are not equivalent, and these are some common cases where you need to use one or the other.

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For naming template parameters, typename and class are equivalent. §14.1.2:

There is no semantic difference between class and typename in a template-parameter.

typename however is possible in another context when using templates - to hint at the compiler that you are referring to a dependent type. §14.6.2:

A name used in a template declaration or definition and that is dependent on a template-parameter is assumed not to name a type unless the applicable name lookup finds a type name or the name is qualified by the keyword typename.


typename some_template<T>::some_type

Without typename the compiler can't tell in general whether you are referring to a type or not.

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While there is no technical difference, I have seen the two used to denote slightly different things.

For a template that should accept any type as T, including built-ins (such as an array )

template<typename T>
class Foo { ... }

For a template that will only work where T is a real class.

template<class T>
class Foo { ... }

But keep in mind that this is purely a style thing some people use. Not mandated by the standard or enforced by compilers

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  1. No difference
  2. Template type parameter Container is itself a template with two type parameters.

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This piece of snippet is from c++ primer book. Although I am sure this is wrong.

Each type parameter must be preceded by the keyword class or typename:

// error: must precede U with either typename or class
template <typename T, U> T calc(const T&, const U&);

These keywords have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably inside a template parameter list. A template parameter list can use both keywords:

// ok: no distinction between typename and class in a template parameter list
template <typename T, class U> calc (const T&, const U&);

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