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Structure setup with typedef and pointers

Posted on 2011-02-23
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi *,

Currently I define my structures as in the first attached example.

What are the advantages of using the second example? I understand that it may be for convenience so that then when passing this structure through functions, one only need put name, instead of *name and &name.

Cheers,
James
typedef struct {
    int x;
    int y[10][10];
} name;

typedef struct {
    int x;
    int y[10][10];
} name_t;
typedef name_t *name;

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Question by:James_h1023
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AndyAinscow earned 252 total points
ID: 34967707
As far as I understand it the typedef statement is really for convenience to help make code more readable.
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by:Infinity08
Infinity08 earned 248 total points
ID: 34967771
Actually, I would say that the second makes it LESS readable. Especially if the point is to save typing one character (the * character).

Seeing the * character in code is very important to know that something is a pointer, and not a full object. Obscuring that information (for sake of "convenience") is sure to lead to confusion.

Some people typedef a pointer-to-struct with a name like NamePtr (ie. with "Ptr" in there) to indicate that it's a pointer, but then I fail to see the advantage - you now have to type three characters (Ptr) instead of one (*), and have not made things more readable (in fact, you've made it less readable).
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by:ssnkumar
ID: 34968498
The only thing that you achieve from the 2nd typedef is, the usage of pointer (that is * character) will be hidden!
But, I don't see that as a great help. Actually that hinders the code readability and also gives problem while debugging the code.
The problem for debugging might occur in this scenario.
Suppose you have declared a variable:
 name n;
Now while debugging, you don't know that n is a pointer.
If you have 1000 lines of code and there are many such variables, then it will become very difficult to know which is pointer, which is not a pointer etc!
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by:Infinity08
ID: 34968850
@ssnkumar : I thought that's what I just said ...
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by:ssnkumar
ID: 34968969
@Infinity08: The main point that I am trying to stress is about the problem faced during debugging.
May be the point was implicit in your comment about readability.
I am trying to make it more explicit.
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by:AndyAinscow
ID: 34969006
Ho hum.  To repeat myself with an emphasis put in.  (Maybe I should have done so in the original comment)

As far as I understand it the typedef statement is really for convenience to help make code more readable.
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by:Infinity08
ID: 34969435
Which is why I emphasised LESS in my post, to show that I disagreed with what you said ;)
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by:James_h1023
ID: 34972309
Many thanks for your comments.

I think I have to agree that it can add to the confusion. I found it in some libraries written by someone else, and I did not know that I was dealing with pointers until I found it typedef'ed as a pointer.

Cheers,
James
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by:Infinity08
ID: 34972588
>> and I did not know that I was dealing with pointers until I found it typedef'ed as a pointer.

:) Indeed.
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