Working with SFML::Textures — The White Box Problem

c++ sfml

So I started using textures in my code, and it’s not been a fun time, mainly because I was missing some key understanding of how c++ keeps things in scope. Sadly I still don’t understand how what I did solve things, but I guess I’ll find out with more research.

Anyway, I’ll document what I did so that anyone trying this out can see exactly what I did wrong. Or rather which steps were probably wrong and how I ended up making things work. I still don’t fully understand the root cause.

I first started out by defining a Ball class (I’m making a Pong! game), like so:

class Ball {
        unsigned collider_size;
        scionofbytes::MovementComponent movement;
        scionofbytes::GraphicComponent graphic;

        Ball(u_int init_collider_size, std::string texture_path) {
            collider_size = init_collider_size;
            movement = scionofbytes::MovementComponent();
            graphic = scionofbytes::GraphicComponent(
                    (u_int) collider_size/2,
                    (u_int) collider_size/2,

The Ball class has a collider size (which should probably be its own component), a movement component and a graphic component. The Ball constructor would receive a texture_path as a string and pass it on to the GraphicComponent's constructor.

The GraphicComponent looks like this:

class GraphicComponent {
    unsigned height;
    unsigned width;

        sf::Texture texture;
        sf::Sprite sprite;

        GraphicComponent() {}

        GraphicComponent(unsigned init_height, unsigned init_width, std::string texture_path) {
            width = init_width;
            height = init_height;


I use the texture_path to load the texture into the sf::Texture type, and then pass that on to the sf::Sprite (the sprite doesn’t store a copy of the texture, only a pointer to it; the texture must exist for as long as the sprite is using it).

Now the point about needing to keep the texture alive for as long as the sprite was using it is something I understood. What I couldn’t figure is why the texture kept getting destroyed once I’d instantiated the Ball class like so:

scionofbytes::Ball ball = scionofbytes::Ball(50, "path_to_texture");

I’m creating the texture as part of the new ball object and as far as I could figure, it’s created as a local member of that object. So if the object is alive, the member is alive. Hence, passing the texture to the sprite shouldn’t be an issue. If the ball object is alive, so its GraphicComponent and so is the texture.

But there was still something going wrong and the texture was being lost before the system started drawing the sprite to the screen.

And what happens when you draw a sf::Sprite to the screen whose texture is lost? You get a White Box (of death|frustration|sadness).

So how did I go about fixing this? I created a holder for the textures that would always be in scope and then passed the texture’s pointer to the sprite.

scionofbytes::TextureManager textureManager;
textureManager.add_texture("ball", "path_to_texture");

scionofbytes::Ball ball = scionofbytes::Ball(50, textureManager.get_texture("ball"));

The TextureManager class just stores textures in a map of type std::map<std::string, sf::Texture> and the get_texture method returns a pointer to a texture by its key. This pointer is then passed on to the constructors which have been changed to accept pointers.

The GraphicComponent class now has a sf::Texture* (pointer) type instead of a texture itself and passes on the same to the sprite (which was storing a pointer, anyway).

And it all works.