Design Patterns in VB.NET - C++ Code Reading Guide
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Published: 13 Jul 2006
Unedited - Community Contributed
This is a brief code reading guide to C++ for VB.NET developers. It focuses on the C++ language features used in the GoF book and shows you roughly how to translate them into VB.NET This is geared at making you more comfortable reading the GoF book since it is still the main source of knowledge on reusable OO software methodology.
by David Simmonds
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Reading C++ Code

What follows is a quick and dirty guide to reading C++ code as seen in the GoF book.  It is directed at the reader who is proficient in VB.NET.

General Syntax

First, remember that C++ is extremely case-sensitive.  ”Int” the variable declaration is not the same as ”int” the Datatype.

All statements are terminated with a semicolon ( “;” ).

Comments are of two types:

1. /*  These words represent a comment.  Notice that they wrap across lines since 
they are between the slash-asterisk and the asterisk-slash.


2. // This is also a comment but it can only take up the rest of the line.

Variables are declared by putting the Datatype first and followed by the variable name.

Listing 1

int Var1, Var2;   

//  Declares Integer variables, Var1 and Var2. Equivalent to:

Dim Var1, Var2 as integer



Class definition begins with the word Class followed by the classname, as in all the popular Object–oriented languages.  Everything between the 1st curly braces ( “{“ ) and matching ending braces ( “}” ) is part of the class definition.

Listing 2

Class DemoClass { // Everything here is part of class definition   };


The constructor is simply the member function with the same name as the class.

 Listing 3

      DemoClass (int, int); // Public constructor for DemoClass


 :   means implements (from interface) or inherits (from a superclass)


Listing 4

DemoSubClass : DemoClass      //  DemoSubClass inherits from DemoClass


If Statements

If statements are fairly intuitive.  Note the bracketing of the expression being tested and also the curly-braces around the group of statements which are executed based on the result of the conditional test.

Listing 5

if (Parameter = = 1)
   cout << "Value of Parameter is One";
  cout << "I say again, the value of Parameter is One";
  cout << "Just in case you didn’t hear the first time ";
 else if (Parameter = = 2)
   cout << "Value of Parameter is Two";
   cout << " Value of neither one nor two ";


For Loops

For Loops in C++ are very similar in syntax to C# and Java For Loops.  See below for a comparison of the C++ equivalent of a VB.NET For Loop.  It is quite intuitive, but a few pointers might help.

Listing 6

Int Loopvar       //  Counter variable, type is integer, name is Loopvar
Loopvar = 0       //  Starts at counter = 0
++Loopvar         // Increment the Loopvar counter variable by 1 each time



For (Int Loopvar = 0; Loopvar < 30;   ++Loopvar)
{ cout << “Hello” }  // loopbody
For Loopvar as integer = 0 to 30 
    Print(“Hello”)     ‘Loopbody


Case / Switch

Switch in C++ is equivalent to Case in VB.NET.  The only major difference is that the “break” keyword separates the “Cases” that the program matches against.  Also, the expression which we are checking is placed in brackets.  In the following code snippet imagine that we are testing the value of an integer parameter.  For each value we simply write out the equivalent word (1 - “One,” 2 – “Two,” 3 – “Three”).

Listing 7

    switch (ParameterValue)
    case 1:
        // Print the word “One”
        Cout << “The value is One”;
    case 2:
        // Print the word “Two”
        Cout << “The value is Two”;
        // ...
    case 3:
        // Print the word “Two”
        Cout << “The value is Three”;
        // ...
        // Value undetermined so 
        // so print “Undetermined”
        Cout << “The value is   Undetermined”;
        // ...
Select Case ParameterValue
    Case 1
        ‘ Print the word “One”
        MsgBox("The value is One")
    Case 2
        ‘ Print the word “Two”
        MsgBox("The value is Two")
    Case 3
        ‘ Print the word “Three”
        MsgBox("The value is Three")
    Case Else
        ‘ Print the word “Undetermined”
        MsgBox("value undetermined")
End Select



The GoF use a lot of pointers.  Let us say we have a class, GofClass, and a function, GofFunction, which is a member of GofClass.  In VB.NET you would expect them to call it "GofClass.GofFunction."

However, in the book they also define a variable which is of type “pointer to GofClass” called GofClassPointerType*.  They also define a GofClassPointer which is of type GofClassPointerType*.



Which is the equivalent to:


It sounds confusing, but if you are going to read the GoF book then you need to get used to it.


Null References

A null reference in C++ is equal to 0.  So the following statements are all equivalent.

Listing 8

If not(MyClass is nothing)          ‘Vb.NET 2003
If MyClass != 0               //  C++
If(MyClass)                         //  also equivalent in C++   



The following are equivalent.

Listing 9

List<MyClass*>*  ListofMyClass      //  C++
Dim ListofMyClass as new Array      ‘ VB.NET, but not as typesafe as C++



Now here is the big trick that will throw off VB.NET people reading C++ code for the first time.  You can declare a function body in two ways.  In both approaches you must declare the function signature within the body of the class.  Function signatures are declared with the returned datatype followed by the function name and followed by the parameter list in braces (remember you define a variable with the datatype followed by variable name).

In the first approach however, only the function signature is declared in the body of the class.  The function body is declared elsewhere in code.  See the example below.


Listing 10

/*  Public function - Sum3Values, takes a
 parameter of  type integer and returns a Long Notice the Parameter is NOT named, just its  datatype */
class DemoClass    {
  long Sum3Values ( int ) ;    
}  // End of Class declaration


Elsewhere in C++ land, the rest of the function definition

·         1st comes the returned datatype which is int

·         2nd comes the Class to which the function belongs

·         3rd comes “::”

·         4th comes the Function name

·         5th comes the named parameter list in braces


Listing 11

int DemoClass::Sum3Values (int ThirdValue) {  //   Note the named Parameter 
      Var4 = Var1 + Var2 + ThirdValue;
      return Var4;   }


The other approach to function declaration is hardly used by the GoF and looks very similar to the approach used in Visual basic.  See the example below.      


Listing 12

class DemoClass  {
{  //   Notice the Parameter is named 
long Sum3Values (int ThirdValue)  
Var4 = (long) Var1 + Var2 + ThirdValue;
return Var4;   }     // End of Function
}        // End of Class 


In the GoF approach you also declare the constructor signature within the body of the class, but the constructor’s body is filled out elsewhere.


Listing 13

public:                       // Public scope applied to members below
     DemoClass (int, int);    // Constructor takes 2 integer arguments


// Elsewhere in code – note the double “DemoClass” declarations


DemoClass::DemoClass (int Value1, int Value2) { // body of constructor
      Var1 = Value1;          // Initialize the variable Var1
      Var2 = Value2;          // Initialize the variable Var2


Other variations on method signatures you might come across


Method Signature

C++ representation VB.NET representation

Function named Sum3Values, no return values, takes integer parameter

void DemoClass::Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue)  
Function Sum3Values
(ThirdValue As Integer)

Function takes integer parameter and returns a long 

long DemoClass::Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue)  
Function Sum3Values
(ThirdValue As IntegerAs Long

Function/Sub without a return type

void DemoClass::Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue)  
Sub Sum3Values
(ThirdValue As Integer)

Shared function (aka Class level function), returns no values

Static void DemoClass::Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue)
Shared Function (ThirdValue As Integer)

Function which takes no parameters and returns no values

void Sum3Values 
Sub Sum3Values()

Virtual Function – can be overridden in its derived-classes. Equivalent to override-able function in VB.NET.

virtual long Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue)  
Public Overridable Function (ThirdValue As Integer)

Pure Virtual Function – no method body declared – must be implemented in subclasses and so is equivalent to a must-override function. A Class with all pure virtual functions is equivalent to VB Interface

virtual long Sum3Values 
(int ThirdValue) = 0
// Note the addition of the “=0” to the end of   the function signature
Public MustOverride Function (ThirdValue As   Integer)


Class and Function Example

Below is a set of class and definitions with comments.

Listing 14

Class DemoClass {           /* Start of class definition */
    DemoClass { 
    Int Function(Int Parameter)
    MyOtherClass* Memberfunction( MyThirdClass* Parameter2)  
/*  MemberFunction returns a pointer to MyOtherClass and takes a pointer to MyThirdClass as a parameter. */


MyVirtualFunction(Char Parameter) = 0   /*  The “=0” 
makes it virtual which is equivalent to “mustoverride” in VB.NET */
    Int Var1;
    Int Var2;
    Int PrivateMembervariable
    MyOtherClass*  PrivateReferenceToOtherClass
}     // end of class definition (In VB, the “}” would be replaced by “endclass”)
long  MyClass:: Memberfunction(Int Parameter)
      //  Do something useful here using the integer parameter inputterd.
      //  Return a long value


User Comments

Title: Listing 9   
Name: Christo
Date: 2007-11-15 10:44:03 AM
Think the proper translation of Listing 9 in VB.NET 2005 would be:
Dim ListofMyClass as new Generic.List(of MyClass)

Don't think this works in 2003.
Title: Thank you!   
Name: Arnold
Date: 2007-10-11 7:24:05 AM
I am most grateful to you for helping me.

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