# Structs

# CGPoint

One really good example of a struct is CGPoint; it's a simple value that represents a 2-dimensional point. It has 2 properties, x and y, and can be written as

typedef struct {
    CGFloat x;
    CGFloat y;
} CGPoint;

If you used Objective-C for Mac or iOS app development before, you've almost certainly come across CGPoint; CGPoints hold the position of pretty much everything on screen, from views and controls to objects in a game to changes in a gradient. This means that CGPoints are used a lot. This is even more true with really performance-heavy games; these games tend to have a lot of objects, and all of these objects need positions. These positions are often either CGPoints, or some other type of struct that conveys a point (such as a 3-dimensional point for 3d games).

Points like CGPoint could easily be represented as objects, like

@interface CGPoint {
    CGFloat x;
    CGFloat y;

... //Point-related methods (e.g. add, isEqualToPoint, etc.)

@property(nonatomic, assign)CGFloat x;
@property(nonatomic, assign)CGFloat y;


@implementation CGPoint

@synthesize x, y;



However, if CGPoint was used in this way it would take a lot longer to create and manipulate points. In smaller, faster programs this wouldn't really cause a difference, and in those cases it would be OK or maybe even better to use object points. But in large programs where points are be used a lot, using objects as points can really hurt performance, making the program slower, and also waste memory, which could force the program to crash.

# Defining a Structure and Accessing Structure Members

The format of the struct statement is this:

struct [structure tag]
   member definition;
   member definition;
   member definition;
} [one or more structure variables]; 

Example: declare the ThreeFloats structure:

  typedef struct {
    float x, y, z;
} ThreeFloats;

@interface MyClass
- (void)setThreeFloats:(ThreeFloats)threeFloats;
- (ThreeFloats)threeFloats;

Sending an instance of MyClass the message valueForKey: with the parameter @"threeFloats" will invoke the MyClass method threeFloats and return the result wrapped in an NSValue.

# Syntax

  • typedef struct { typeA propertyA; typeB propertyB; ... } StructName

# Remarks

In Objective C, you should almost always use an object instead of a struct. However, there are still cases where using a struct is better, such as:

  • When you're going to be creating and destroying a lot of values of the (struct) type, so you need good performance and small memory usage
    - Structs are faster to create and use because when calling a method on an object, the method has to be determined at runtime - Structs take up less size because objects have an extra property `isa`, which holds their class
  • When the value has only a couple of properties and a small total size (take CGSize; it has 2 floats which are 4 bytes each, so it can take up 8 bytes), and is going to be used a lot (ties in with the first point)
  • When you could use unions (opens new window) or bitfields (opens new window), and importantly, need the size saved by them because you need small memory usage (ties in with the first point)
  • When you really want to store an array inside of the struct, since Objective-C objects can't directly store C-arrays. However, note that you can still "indirectly" get an array in an Objective-C object by making it a reference (i.e. type * in place of the C-array type[])
  • When you need to communicate with some other code, such as a library, that's coded in C; structs are fully implemented in C but objects are not