Better Singleton classes C++

From OPeNDAP Documentation

NB: This was ripped from Google Bard and edited. jhrg 12/27/23

The Meyers Singleton pattern is a popular way to implement the singleton design pattern in C++ using a static member variable declared within a function. It leverages the properties of static functions and objects to guarantee only one instance of the class is ever created.


This pattern, developed by Scott Meyers (although G'bard didn't say so...) uses the basic properties of static methods and static variables within functions/methods. The singleton object initialization should happen in the object's default constructor, which is shielded from use by anything other than the singleton class. That's the one thing that makes this pattern somewhat tricky as constructors should not throw exceptions.


class Singleton {
  // Private constructor to prevent direct instantiation
  Singleton() {}

  // Delete the copy constructor and assignment operator to prevent copying
  Singleton(const Singleton&) = delete;
  Singleton& operator=(const Singleton&) = delete;

  // Static member function that returns the singleton instance
  static Singleton& getInstance() {
    // Create a local static object the first time the function is called
    static Singleton instance;
    return instance;

  // Other member functions of the Singleton class...

int main() {
  // Access the singleton instance through the getInstance() function
  Singleton& instance1 = Singleton::getInstance();
  Singleton& instance2 = Singleton::getInstance();

  // Verify that both instances are the same object
  if (&instance1 == &instance2) {
    std::cout << "Both instances refer to the same Singleton object!" << std::endl;

  // Use the Singleton instance...

  return 0;


The Singleton class has a private constructor to prevent direct instantiation. The getInstance() function is static and declared within the Singleton class. Inside getInstance(), a static member object instance is declared. This object is only created the first time the function is called. Subsequent calls to getInstance() simply return the existing instance object. The copy constructor and assignment operator are deleted to prevent copying the singleton object.

Benefits of the Meyers Singleton

Initialization is guaranteed to happen only once, even in multithreaded environments.
Lazy initialization
The singleton object is only created when it is first needed.
Simple and concise
The implementation is relatively easy to understand and maintain.

Drawbacks of the Meyers Singleton

Singletons can lead to tight coupling and reduced testability. Use them sparingly and only when truly necessary.
No explicit destruction
The singleton object will be destroyed only when the program exits. This can be problematic if resources need to be explicitly released earlier.

Alternatives to the Meyers Singleton

Static local variables
This approach can be used within a single file to create a thread-safe singleton.
Resource acquisition is initialization (RAII)
This technique can be used to manage resources associated with the singleton and ensure proper cleanup.
Dependency injection
This approach can improve testability and decouple the singleton from its dependent classes.

Thread safety

The Meyers Singleton pattern is thread-safe in C++11 and later, even without explicit synchronization mechanisms like mutexes or locks.

The thread safety of the Meyers Singleton pattern relies on language-level guarantees introduced in C++11. For older C++ versions (pre-C++11), additional synchronization mechanisms would be needed for thread safety. Even though the initialization is thread-safe, it's important to note that any methods of the singleton class itself still need to be thread-safe if accessed concurrently by multiple threads.

How it achieves thread safety

Static Local Variable

The getInstance() function uses a static local variable to hold the singleton instance. Static local variables are guaranteed to be initialized only once, even in multithreaded environments. This initialization happens in a thread-safe manner due to language-level guarantees in C++11 and beyond.

Magic Statics

This feature of C++11 and later ensures that static variables with block scope (like those within functions) are initialized in a thread-safe way. The compiler and runtime collaborate to handle potential race conditions during initialization, ensuring that only one thread initializes the variable at a time.

No Explicit Locking Needed

Because of these language-level guarantees, the Meyers Singleton pattern doesn't require any explicit locking mechanisms (like mutexes or locks) to ensure thread safety. This makes it a relatively simple and efficient way to implement a thread-safe singleton.