The pw_span module provides an implementation of C++20’s std::span, which is a non-owning view of an array of values. The intent is for this implementation of std::span is to exactly match the C++20 standard.

The only header provided by the pw_span module is <span>. It is included as if it were coming from the C++ Standard Library. If the C++ library provides <span>, the library’s version of std::span is used in place of pw_span’s.

pw_span requires two include paths – public/ and public_overrides/. The internal implementation header is in public/, and the <span> header that mimics the C++ Standard Library is in public_overrides/.

Using std::span

std::span is a convenient abstraction that wraps a pointer and a size. std::span is especially useful in APIs. Spans support implicit conversions from C arrays, std::array, or any STL-style container, such as std::string_view.

Functions operating on an array of bytes typically accept pointer and size arguments:

bool ProcessBuffer(char* buffer, size_t buffer_size);

bool DoStuff() {
  ProcessBuffer(c_array, sizeof(c_array));
  ProcessBuffer(, array_object.size());
  ProcessBuffer(data_pointer, data_size);

Pointer and size arguments can be replaced with a std::span:

#include <span>

// With std::span, the buffer is passed as a single argument.
bool ProcessBuffer(std::span<uint8_t> buffer);

bool DoStuff() {
  ProcessBuffer(std::span(data_pointer, data_size));


Use std::span<std::byte> or std::span<const std::byte> to represent spans of binary data. Use std::as_bytes or std::as_writeable_bytes to convert any span to a byte span.

void ProcessData(std::span<const std::byte> data);

void DoStuff() {
  std::array<AnyType, 7> data = { ... };


Works with C++11, but some features require C++17.