Comment #3 on issue 312 by ken...@google.com: Required field with default value serializes if not set
http://code.google.com/p/protobuf/issues/detail?id=312

The bug you are reporting here actually has nothing to do with default values. You'd see the exact same behavior even if you had set no default value.

The relationship between required fields and default values is somewhat confusing. In fact, there is no relationship at all, even though it seems like they would be related. The default value simply defines what is returned by the field's getter if no value has explicitly been set. Since required fields must be explicitly set, it's generally not very useful to define a default value for a required field. BTW, all fields have default values -- if you don't define one explicitly, the default value is zero/empty.

Back to the bug here. The problem is, IsInitialized() is not free, so we do not want to force it to be called every time a message is serialized when 99.999% of the time it will pass. The only time the initialization check should ever fail is when the calling code is incorrect, which ideally should only happen in development, and should be caught in testing / debugging. Hence, we skip the check in production.

As Jisi points out, this doesn't work very well if you are doing your development against a protobuf library which is itself compiled with -DNDEBUG, which is the default if you build it with configure/make. You can compile a debug build of protobufs by overriding CXXFLAGS to NOT include -DNDEBUG, for example:

  ./configure CXXFLAGS='-O2 -g'
  make

I recommend compiling your debug builds and tests against such a debug build of libprotobuf.

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