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[C++] const reference or pointer to class.

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Hi. I was just wondering if there is really any difference between a function like this void Function(const Class& Object); and void Function(Class* Object);. Which should I use and when?

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Use a reference where possible, and const where possible. Try to avoid raw pointers in general. Use "const" if the function only calls methods marked as "const" on the object. Use a reference if the parameter may not be null, and is not an array. See here for more information on "const". For information on references vs pointers, read this. That entire site is worth bookmarking, its very good.

You can avoid using pointers by using something like boost::optional<> for... optional arguments and by using containers instead of passing arrays around. You should wrap pointers in smart pointer objects such as boost::shared_ptr<>, boost::weak_ptr<>, boost::scoped_ptr<> or std::auto_ptr<>, whichever applies. You might find that your compiler has shared_ptr<> available in the namespace "std::tr1".

One important difference is you can pass a temporary to a function expecting a const reference, but not to one that takes a non-const reference or any kind of pointer.

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