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Re: pointer to structures

"Liam E.Gumley" wrote:
> "J.D. Smith" wrote:
> >
> > "Liam E.Gumley" wrote:
> > >
> > > "J.D. Smith" wrote:
> > > > With time, you will get used to these semantics.  They seem arcane, but
> > > > eventually it becomes somewhat readable to the experienced eye.  Of course, I've
> > > > struggled with statements like:
> > > >
> > > >  HEADER=*(*(*self.DR)[sel[i]].HEADER)
> > >
> > > I neglected to provide an example of why simplified pointer and
> > > structure referencing is desirable. Thanks for the help JD!
> > >
> > > ;-)
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Liam.
> >
> > But then you have to ask yourself which is worse, the confusing string above, or
> > the explicit:
> >
> > drs_ptr=self.DR
> > drs=*drs_ptr
> > this=drs[sel[i]]
> > hd_arr_ptr=*this
> > hd=*hd_arr_ptr
> >
> > repeat this about 5000 times throughout your application, and you begin to
> > appreciate the terse form above.  Especially if you're passing some part of the
> > nested data to a routine by reference... intermediate variables require you to
> > remember to assign them after use (everybody remember
> > widget_control,stash,set_uvalue=state,/NO_COPY?).
> I would not repeat this code 5000 times. I'd find a way to encapsulate
> it in a function where I can include comments and error checking (e.g.
> Is this a valid pointer? Does it point to a defined variable?). In these
> cases I find it much better to create a 'put' and 'get' function pair
> where all the de-referencing is handled inside the function. That way I
> can use the 'put' and 'get' modules all over the place, and if I change
> the way the pointers/structures are nested, I only have to change the
> code in two places (inside the functions).

The problem with this is code inflation.  If you want to manipulate parts of
your data structure in place, you need direct access to a pointer or some other
by reference value.  If you choose to pass pointer values to all intermediate
routines, you are in a sense compromising the very data structure encapsulation
you are attempting to achieve.  What if later it became a list of pointers? 
With the put/set paradigm, you are limited in the ways helper functions can
interact with your data structure, and you are forced to wrap each call:


reminiscent of the example stash variable I gave.  This is not necessarily a bad
idea.  Especially now that we have _REF_EXTRA so that incorporating overloaded
get/put methods in an object hierarchy is possible.  But it yields consistency
at the price of flexibility.  Sometimes this is a good tradeoff, perhaps even
more times than most people would be inclined to think.  In other situations, a
more carefully designed data structure can give you the procedural flexibility
you need without compromising future design revisions.  There is room for both
styles of design in your toolchest.


 J.D. Smith                             |*|      WORK: (607) 255-5842    
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