Showing posts from November, 2022

Zeroing Weak Object References

In the two-part post series, The purpose of weak references - Part I and The purpose of weak references - Part II , I wrote about the purpose of weak references in automatic reference counting, as well as in manual memory management, where they are commonly referred to as non-owning references. In ARC, object references to reference-counted objects are unsafe, non-zeroing weak references, and in manual memory management, non-owning references to an object instance are also unsafe. Unsafe, in the above context, means that you can safely use such references only if the object instance they point to always has a longer lifetime than the unsafe reference, or that there is additional mechanism (code) that will notify you when the object is destroyed, so you know the reference is not pointing to a valid object anymore. In manual memory management, TComponent implements such a notification mechanism. However, there are two downsides: first, it only works with TComponent descendants; and

The purpose of weak references - Part II

In the first part of this post series, I covered owning and non-owning references under manual memory management, and the purpose of non-owning (weak) references in that memory model. Following the same use cases, we can now clearly show the purpose of their counterparts under the automatic reference counting memory model. Automatic reference counting Automatic reference counting is a memory model under which an object instance will be valid as long as there is at least one strong reference to that object instance. When the last strong reference goes out of scope or is nilled, the object's reference count will drop to zero, and the instance will be automatically destroyed. One of the side-effects of that design is that two object instances that are no longer reachable through any outside references can hold strong references to each other, thus keeping themselves alive and creating memory leaks. This is called a reference cycle. To prevent problems with reference cycles, ARC h