C PROGRAMMING

Structures

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Overview

Structures can be used to do a “object-orientated” style of programming in C, a language which was originally designed to be functional.

Initialising Structures

Initialising structures is way of defining what the values of the variables inside the struct will be at the time of creation. Note that there is a big syntax difference between initialising structures in C and in C++.

Defining a structure type
typedef struct
{
    uint16_t value1;
    uint16_t value2;
} demoStruct_t;

// Creating a structure and initialising the variables
// Note that this is won't work in C++
demoStruct_t struct1 =
{
    .value1 = 560;
    .value2 = 34;
}

Unfortunately, you cannot define default variables for a structure when you declare it, only when you create an instance of that structure type. If this is annoying you, you might want to consider switching to C++, which allows you to do such a thing by using the class and constructor mechanisms.

Manipulating Structures

Because structure can contain more than one data type, you can’t use the standard procedure for manipulating other ‘variables’. For example you can’t use struct 1 = struct 2 to copy one structure to another or use struct1 = 0 to set all values to 0. Instead, you have to use memory operations.

However, you can still copy individual variables that belong to a structure just like usual.

typedef struct {
    uint16_t value1;
    uint16_t value2;
} demoStruct_t;

demoStruct_t demoStruct1;
demoStruct_t demoStruct2;
// Clear all of the variables in a structure (set to 0)
memset(&struct1, 0x00, sizeof(struct1));

// Copy the contents of struct1 into struct 2 (of the same type)
// Note that the size of the destination variable is used rather
// than the source, this is a safer method as it prevents
// memory overruns.
memcpy(&struct2, &struct1, sizeof(struct2));

// You can still use the standard methods when copying individual variables that belong to a structure
struct1.value1 = struct2.value2;

Self-referencing Structures

You can self-reference a structure, but you cannot include the structure type in the structure itself (with would cause infinite recursion). To self-reference a structure, you have to use the little-used (in C anyway) name after typedef struct.

typedef struct cmd_t {
    // This is a legal self-reference
    cmd_t* cmdPtr;
} cmd_t;

typedef struct cmd_t {
    // This is an illegal infinite recursion error
    cmd_t cmd;
} cmd_t;

// This following declaration has got the first cmd_t
// missing. This will cause an cmd_t is undefined error.
typedef struct {
    cmd_t cmd;
} cmd_t

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