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Posts Tagged ‘c++’

Using C# Delegates to Call Static and Instance Functions

A delegate allows a programmer to abstract functions as variable values in the same way that he abstracts other data, such as integers and doubles, as variable values. Simply put, a delegate is a variable type that defines a specific type of function. An instance of the delegate can hold a reference to any function of that type.

Basic Steps for Using Delegates

  1. Declare a delegate type
  2. Create an instance of the type
  3. Assign that instance to a function
  4. Call the function via the delegate

The essential steps for using a delegate are listed above and demonstrated in the program below. The program consists of two files: Program.cs and CMyDelegateTester.cs–the additional class file is only needed for the second example.

For the first example, we can layout the steps very easily. First, we have the delegate declaration just above the Main() function, which designates our delegate type, DDoSomething. Next, we have the instantiation, pfnFunction, of the delegate type right after the first comment inside the Main() function. This instance is assigned to the static Square() function in the same line. Finally, we call the Square() function via the delegate in the next line with the value 3.0 and output the result.

In the second example, we do the same thing with an instance function of the CMyDelegateTester class. Notice that we need to instantiate the class and that we assign the function, along with its object, to the delegate. This is important because the delegate is attached to and will depend on the object in this case.

Executing the program, we see the output for each function call:

UsingDelegates

Program.cs

using System;

namespace UsingDelegates {
    class Program {

        delegate double DDoSomething(double dX);

        static void Main(string[] args) {

            // 1. An example using a static function
            DDoSomething pfnFunction = Square;
            Console.WriteLine("The static function returned " + pfnFunction(3.0));

            // 2. An example using a member function
            CMyDelegateTester qTesterObject = new CMyDelegateTester();
            DDoSomething mpfnMemberFunction = qTesterObject.MultiplyByTen;
            Console.WriteLine("The member function returned " + mpfnMemberFunction(3.0));
        }

        static double Square(double dX) {
            return dX * dX;
        }
    }
}

CMyDelegateTester.cs

namespace UsingDelegates {
    public class CMyDelegateTester {

        public CMyDelegateTester() {
        }

        public double MultiplyByTen(double dX) {
            return 10.0 * dX;
        }
    }
}

C# Delegates Versus C++ Function Pointers

A C# delegate is similar to a C++ function pointer. However, there are some subtle differences:

  1. C# delegates require the creation of a new data type. In fact, a delegate declaration is equivalent to a C++ typedef declaration of a function pointer type. While C++ does not require a new type definition to use function pointers, it is good practice.
  2. Like C++ function pointers, C# delegate types are detemined by the arguments and the return value. However, C++ distinguishes between static and instance functions and does not allow them to be used interchangeably as C# does. This is demonstrated in the C# code above.
  3. A C# delegate with a return type of void may be multicast to call multiple functions with one call. This is odd, but it is used with events and listeners, and will be illustrated in a future C# post.

Arguments and Parameters

The terms argument and parameter are frequently used interchangeably, and there is often confusion about what these two terms mean. Arguments and parameters are two different things, but they are closely related. By definition, an argument is a value or variable that is passed into a function, and a parameter is value or variable that is used inside of a function. For illustration, look at the program below.

#include <iostream>

int Sum(int iP1, int iP2) {
    return iP1 + iP2;
}

int main () {
    int iA1 = 48;
    int iA2 = 24;

    std::cout << Sum(iA1, iA2) << std::endl;

    return 0;
}

The program contains takes in two int values and returns an int that is the sum of them. The two int values that the function takes in are called arguments, while the two values that are used inside the function are called parameters. To clarify this, we have named the variables that we used for the arguments, iA1 and iA2, and the two variables that we used for the parameters, iP1 and iP2. Correspondingly, "iA1, iA2" inside the function call is called the argument list and "int iP1, int iP2" inside the function definition is called the parameter list.

In the example above, the difference between the arguments and paramters is clear. The arguments and parameters refer to totally different memory locations because the arguments are both passed by value. In the program below, we have replaced the variables with the constant literals 48 and 24. In this program, these literals are the arguments.

#include <iostream>

int Sum(int iP1, int iP2) {
	return iP1 + iP2;
}

int main () {

    std::cout << Sum(48, 24) << std::endl;

    return 0;
}

In our last example below, we changed the function a bit; we pass the first argument by reference and use a default argument for the second. So, the arguments are iA and 45. The parameters are still iP1 and iP2. However, the first parameter is only a reference so changing its value changes the value of iA, as we would expect. Passing values by reference is probably one of the sources of confusion between arguments and parameters, but it is easy to understand if we remember that the parameter is only a reference; in fact, we could use any valid C++ data type as a parameter, including pointers, constants, etc.

#include <iostream>

void AddTo(int& iP1, int iP2 = 45) {
    iP1 += iP2;
}

int main () {
	int iA = 16;
	AddTo(iA);
	std::cout << iA << std::endl;

    return 0;
}

Keeping the C++ Console Window Open

One of the first problems that new C++ programmers have is keeping the console window open when writing C++ programs. The easiest solution to this problem is to use the Start Without Debugging option under the Debug the when executing programs. Unfortunately, Microsoft took this option and many others out of the default menus in Visual C++ 2010. To get this option back, select Tools->Settings->Expert Settings. Otherwise, you can use press (Ctrl + F5) to select Start Without Debugging without the menu.

That’s the simplest option for keeping the console window open. However, if you want to keep the window open when running an executable that you create, you will need to add some code to suspend execution and keep the window open. Below, we show one example of how to keep the window open by adding this line of code before the return statement:

system("pause");

The one objection I have to this method is that the system() function is not part of the C++ standard and may not be valid with some C++ compilers.

#include <iostream>

int main()
{
    using namespace std;

    cout << "Hello World!" << endl;

    system("pause");
    return 0;
}

Alternatively, we could use cin.get(); to keep the window open like this:

#include <iostream>

int main()
{
    using namespace std;

    cout << "Hello World!" << endl;

    cin.get();
    return 0;
}

However, using cin.get() can have problems if input is taken directly before it. The problem is that the input in the stream carries over to the cin.get() and causes the program to exit. To prevent this, we can add a call to clear() and ignore(), as we do below.

#include <iostream>

int main()
{
    using namespace std;

    int iInt;
    cin >> iInt;
    cout << "Input = " << iInt << endl;

    cin.clear();
    cin.ignore(0xFFFFFFFF, '\n');
    cin.get();
    return 0;
}