How can I iterate over an enum?

I just noticed that you can not use standard math operators on an enum such as ++ or +=

So what is the best way to iterate through all of the values in a C++ enum?

Answer

The typical way is as follows:

enum Foo {
  One,
  Two,
  Three,
  Last
};

for ( int fooInt = One; fooInt != Last; fooInt++ )
{
   Foo foo = static_cast<Foo>(fooInt);
   // ...
}

Please note, the enum Last is meant to be skipped by the iteration. Utilizing this “fake” Last enum, you don’t have to update your terminating condition in the for loop to the last “real” enum each time you want to add a new enum. If you want to add more enums later, just add them before Last. The loop in this example will still work.

Of course, this breaks down if the enum values are specified:

enum Foo {
  One = 1,
  Two = 9,
  Three = 4,
  Last
};

This illustrates that an enum is not really meant to iterate through. The typical way to deal with an enum is to use it in a switch statement.

switch ( foo )
{
    case One:
        // ..
        break;
    case Two:  // intentional fall-through
    case Three:
        // ..
        break;
    case Four:
        // ..
        break;
     default:
        assert( ! "Invalid Foo enum value" );
        break;
}

If you really want to enumerate, stuff the enum values in a vector and iterate over that. This will properly deal with the specified enum values as well.