Mopping up template barf with static_assert

Templates are a mixed blessing for C++ developers. On the one hand, templates avoid code duplication as most impressively demonstrated by the standard template library. The template mechanism, in contrast to preprocessor macros, is aware of the C++ language and part of it. Compilers can produce helpful error messages – and some compilers even do so.

Some compilers, however, fail in providing clear template compilation error messages. If you make a mistake, you are greeted by a bucket load of irritating notes on what went wrong in detail. Since it is down to you to identify the relevant chunks, this is often referred to as template barf.

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