The Sedona Framework model for arrays is very similar to the C language. An array is just a block of memory large enough hold a declared number of items. Arrays do not store their own length, so bounds checking is up to the developer.

The format of an array type declaration is:

  <Type>[<size>]  // size is optional
  byte[10] buf      // example of sized array type declaration
  Person[] people   // example of unsized array type declaration

If the size of the array is specified between the brackets we call it a sized array, otherwise we call it a unsized array. The Sedona Framework does not support multi-dimensional arrays.

Memory Management

Arrays are always passed by reference - the reference is just a pointer to the base address of the array. To actually allocate memory for an array, it must be declared as an inline field. For example:

class Foo
  static int[5] x
  static inline int[5] y

In the class above we declare two static fields. The field x is a reference to an array of five ints - so it allocates enough memory to store a pointer (typically 4 bytes on a 32-bit machine). The field y on the other hand is storage for five ints, so it allocates 20 bytes.

In the example above Foo.x is just a pointer, so you can set x to any value that points to 5 ints. For example the assignment x=y updates x to point to the block of memory allocated by y.

On the other hand, y actually allocates a block of memory to store 5 ints. You can pass y around as a pointer and index its values, but you cannot change what it points to. Like all inline fields, y can never be used as the left hand side of an assignment statement.

Arrays of References

An array of objects is stored as an array of references to those objects. On a machine with 32-bit pointers, this means that an array of 3 objects will always be 12 bytes no matter how big the objects themselves are. However, there is a special syntax for allocating enough memory to hold the objects too:

class Point
  int x
  int y

class Shape
  static Point[] a
  static inline Point[3] b
  static inline Point[3] c = {...}

The Point class stores two ints, which means a single instance of Point is 8 bytes. Note the three different field declarations in Shape:

Unsized Classes

Under most circumstances you must specify a size to declare an inline array. However a class may declare one instance field as an unsized inline array. We call these classes unsized classes because their size isn't fixed. To make this work, unsized classes have a few special rules:

  1. The class can have no more than one unsized inline array
  2. The unsized inline array must be an instance field (not static)
  3. The array length must be assigned in the constructor
  4. The length must be assigned directly from a constructor parameter
  5. The class must be declared final (true of all classes with constructor arguments)

The sys::Buf class is a good example of an unsized class:

final class Buf
  Buf(int maxBufLen)
    this.bytesLen = maxBufLen
    this.bytes.length = maxBufLen

  inline byte[] bytes    // raw byte array
  short bytesLen         // length of bytes array

The code snippet above illustrates how to declare an unsized inline array. The constructor must have a statement that assigns the "length field" of the array. The right hand side of the assignment must be a parameter of the constructor (it can't be a calculated value).

To declare an instance of a Buf we pass the length to the inline constructor:

  inline Buf(3) buf1st
  inline Buf(10) buf2nd

In the example above we declared two instances of Buf. The first buffer allocates enough memory to store Buf's fixed slots (such as bytesLen) plus enough memory for 3 bytes. The second buffer allocates enough memory for Buf's fixed slots plus 10 bytes. This feature is used extensively when working with the sys::Str class.

Array Literals

Some array types may be declared as literals in code:

define Str[] colors = {"red", "green", "blue"}

See Array Literals for more details.