C Language Structs Object-based programming using structs


Example

Structs may be used to implement code in an object oriented manner. A struct is similar to a class, but is missing the functions which normally also form part of a class, we can add these as function pointer member variables. To stay with our coordinates example:

/* coordinates.h */

typedef struct coordinate_s 
{
    /* Pointers to method functions */
    void (*setx)(coordinate *this, int x);
    void (*sety)(coordinate *this, int y);
    void (*print)(coordinate *this);
    /* Data */
    int x;
    int y;
} coordinate;

/* Constructor */
coordinate *coordinate_create(void);
/* Destructor */
void coordinate_destroy(coordinate *this);

And now the implementing C file:

/* coordinates.c */

#include "coordinates.h"
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

/* Constructor */
coordinate *coordinate_create(void)
{
    coordinate *c = malloc(sizeof(*c));
    if (c != 0)
    {
        c->setx = &coordinate_setx;
        c->sety = &coordinate_sety;
        c->print = &coordinate_print;
        c->x = 0;
        c->y = 0;
    }
    return c;
}

/* Destructor */
void coordinate_destroy(coordinate *this)
{
    if (this != NULL)
    {
        free(this);  
    }  
}

/* Methods */
static void coordinate_setx(coordinate *this, int x)
{
    if (this != NULL)
    {    
        this->x = x;
    }
}

static void coordinate_sety(coordinate *this, int y)
{
    if (this != NULL)
    {
        this->y = y;
    }
}

static void coordinate_print(coordinate *this)
{
    if (this != NULL)
    {
        printf("Coordinate: (%i, %i)\n", this->x, this->y);
    }
    else
    {
        printf("NULL pointer exception!\n");
    }
}

An example usage of our coordinate class would be:

/* main.c */

#include "coordinates.h"
#include <stddef.h>

int main(void) 
{
    /* Create and initialize pointers to coordinate objects */
    coordinate *c1 = coordinate_create();
    coordinate *c2 = coordinate_create();
    
    /* Now we can use our objects using our methods and passing the object as parameter */
    c1->setx(c1, 1);
    c1->sety(c1, 2);

    c2->setx(c2, 3);
    c2->sety(c2, 4);

    c1->print(c1);
    c2->print(c2);

    /* After using our objects we destroy them using our "destructor" function */
    coordinate_destroy(c1);
    c1 = NULL;
    coordinate_destroy(c2);
    c2 = NULL;

    return 0;
}