# C++ - Text Input¶

In almost all beginning C++ programs, we read user inputs using the standard C++ library iostream. You see code that looks like this:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 #include using namespace std; int main(int argc, char *argv[]) { int age; cout << "Hello, young person!" << endl; cout << "How old are you? "; cin >> age; cout << "Hmmm, it looks like it will be "; cout << 70 - age; cout << " years before you can retire!" << endl; } 

Those << and >> operators are called insertion or extraction operators, depending one which way the data will go. We “extract” something from the outside world into our programs from the “standard input” stream (std::stdin), and “insert” something that is going to that outside world as part of the “standard output” stream (std::stdout) from our program. (Occasionally, we might insert messages about problems by sending something to the “standard error” stream (std::stderr)as well).

## C++ Output¶

We can send literal strings to output, as we commonly do in our very first C++ program (you did write your “Hello, World!” program, right?). We can also send the contents of any user variable to output as well. The standard output system can take any predefined variable type and figure out how to display that type on the screen. If you construct your own data types (classes), we can extend these operators so you can input and output these types as well!

## C++ Input¶

Input works in a similar way, but we have to deal with a few subtleties!

When we direct input into a user variable of some type, the system tries to scan what is entered, looking for something that matches what is expected. It will stop scanning when it runs into a character that cannot be part of the data type specified for the variable you are trying to load!

In the example, we asked the user for an integer number. If they typed 12.5 in as input, the program would stop at the “.” character, since that cannot be part of an integer.

Any additional input operations will start reading at that spot, giving you unexpected results:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 #include using namespace std; int main(int argc, char *argv[]) { int age; float part; cout << "Hello, young person!" << endl; cout << "How old are you? "; cin >> age; cout << "Hmmm, it looks like it will be "; cout << 70 - age; cout << " years before you can retire!" << endl; cin >> part; cout << "Why do you tell folks you are " << part; cout << " extra years old?" << endl; } 

Run this and enter 12.5 and see what happens.

We only entered one thing on input, but we got two results.

### User Validation¶

This example points out a serious problem you will have when asking a human for something:

Users cannot be trusted to do what you ask!


They will do what they want, and you have to be ahead of them!

Note

I learned this lesson years ago, when I wrote the first program I expected to be paid to write. On my very first demo to the client who asked me to build a program for him, I watched his finger go for a key I never thought anyone would hit when asked for an input, and the program did what it was designed to do! It blew up and crashed! I never realized I had designed it to do that, and I never designed another program to do that again!

Instead, I started “validating” all human inputs. (Grumble, Grumble! Dumb humans!)

### Extraction Operators¶

The extraction operator << normally skips anything that displays as “whitespace”. That means it ignores spaces, tabs, and newlines! Try the previous example by hitting a few of these before you actually enter the number. (By the way, that second example will stall if you enter an integer as your age, it wants a float as well!)