ppt - what is the difference between structure and class in c++?

What are the differences between struct and class in C++? (19)

This question was already asked in the context of C#/.Net.

Now I'd like to learn the differences between a struct and a class in C++. Please discuss the technical differences as well as reasons for choosing one or the other in OO design.

I'll start with an obvious difference:

  • If you don't specify public: or private:, members of a struct are public by default; members of a class are private by default.

I'm sure there are other differences to be found in the obscure corners of the C++ specification.

ISO IEC 14882-2003

9 Classes


A structure is a class defined with the class-key struct; its members and base classes (clause 10) are public by default (clause 11).

  1. The members of a structure are public by default, the members of class are private by default.
  2. Default inheritance for Structure from another structure or class is public.Default inheritance for class from another structure or class is private.
class A{    
    int i;      

class A2:A{    

struct A3:A{    

struct abc{    
    int i;

struct abc2:abc{    

class abc3:abc{

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
    abc2 objabc;
    objabc.i = 10;

    A3 ob;
    ob.i = 10;

    //A2 obja; //privately inherited
    //obja.i = 10;

    //abc3 obss;
    //obss.i = 10;

This is on VS2005.

According to Stroustrup in the C++ Programming Language:

Which style you use depends on circumstances and taste. I usually prefer to use struct for classes that have all data public. I think of such classes as "not quite proper types, just data structures."

Functionally, there is no difference other than the public / private

Another main difference is when it comes to Templates. As far as I know, you may use a class when you define a template but NOT a struct.

template<class T> // OK
template<struct T> // ERROR, struct not allowed here

Class' members are private by default. Struct's members are public by default. Besides that there are no other differences. Also see this question.

Classes are Reference types and Structures are Values types.
When I say Classes are reference types,
basically they will contain the address of an instance variables.

For example:

Class MyClass
    Public Int DataMember;  //By default, accessibility of class data members 
                            //will be private. So I am making it as Public which 
                            //can be accessed outside of the class.

In main method,
I can create an instance of this class using new operator that allocates memory for this class
and stores the base address of that into MyClass type variable(_myClassObject2).

Static Public void Main (string[] arg)
    MyClass _myClassObject1 = new MyClass();
    _myClassObject1.DataMember = 10;

    MyClass _myClassObject2 = _myClassObject1;

In the above program, MyClass _myClassObject2 = _myClassObject1; instruction indicates that both variables of type MyClass

  1. myClassObject1
  2. myClassObject2

and will point to the same memory location.
It basically assigns the same memory location into another variable of same type.

So if any changes that we make in any one of the objects type MyClass will have an effect on another
since both are pointing to the same memory location.

"_myClassObject1.DataMember = 10;" at this line both the object’s data members will contain the value of 10.
"_myClassObject2.DataMember = 20;" at this line both the object’s data member will contains the value of 20.
Eventually, we are accessing datamembers of an object through pointers.

Unlike classes, structures are value types. For example:

Structure MyStructure
    Public Int DataMember;  //By default, accessibility of Structure data 
                            //members will be private. So I am making it as 
                            //Public which can be accessed out side of the structure.

Static Public void Main (string[] arg)
    MyStructure _myStructObject1 = new MyStructure();
    _myStructObject1.DataMember = 10;

    MyStructure _myStructObject2 = _myStructObject1;
    _myStructObject2.DataMember = 20;

In the above program,
instantiating the object of MyStructure type using new operator and
storing address into _myStructObject variable of type MyStructure and
assigning value 10 to data member of the structure using "_myStructObject1.DataMember = 10".

In the next line,
I am declaring another variable _myStructObject2 of type MyStructure and assigning _myStructObject1 into that.
Here .NET C# compiler creates another copy of _myStructureObject1 object and
assigns that memory location into MyStructure variable _myStructObject2.

So whatever change we make on _myStructObject1 will never have an effect on another variable _myStructObject2 of type MyStructrue.
That’s why we are saying Structures are value types.

So the immediate Base class for class is Object and immediate Base class for Structure is ValueType which inherits from Object.
Classes will support an Inheritance whereas Structures won’t.

How are we saying that?
And what is the reason behind that?
The answer is Classes.

It can be abstract, sealed, static, and partial and can’t be Private, Protected and protected internal.

I am seeing another different between structs and classes having to do with default initialization.

struct Foo {
    int a;

class Bar {
    int a;

class Tester {
    Foo m_Foo = Foo();
    Bar m_Bar = Bar();

    Tester() {}

int main() {
    auto myTester = Tester();

Run that code and examine myTester. You'll find that for m_Foo, the struct, m_Foo.a has been initialized to 0, but for m_Bar, the class, m_Bar.a is uninitialized. So there does appear to be a difference in what the default constructor does for struct vs. class. I'm seeing this with Visual Studio.

I found an other difference. if you do not define a constructor in a class, the compiler will define one. but in a struct if you do not define a constructor, the compiler do not define a constructor too. so in some cases that we really do not need a constructor, struct is a better choice (performance tip). and sorry for my bad English.

It's worth remembering C++'s origins in, and compatibility with, C.

C has structs, it has no concept of encapsulation, so everything is public.

Being public by default is generally considered a bad idea when taking an object-oriented approach, so in making a form of C that is natively conducive to OOP (you can do OO in C, but it won't help you) which was the idea in C++ (originally "C With Classes"), it makes sense to make members private by default.

On the other hand, if Stroustrup had changed the semantics of struct so that its members were private by default, it would have broken compatibility (it is no longer as often true as the standards diverged, but all valid C programs were also valid C++ programs, which had a big effect on giving C++ a foothold).

So a new keyword, class was introduced to be exactly like a struct, but private by default.

If C++ had come from scratch, with no history, then it would probably have only one such keyword. It also probably wouldn't have made the impact it made.

In general, people will tend to use struct when they are doing something like how structs are used in C; public members, no constructor (as long as it isn't in a union, you can have constructors in structs, just like with classes, but people tend not to), no virtual methods, etc. Since languages are as much to communicate with people reading the code as to instruct machines (or else we'd stick with assembly and raw VM opcodes) it's a good idea to stick with that.

Not in the specification, no. The main difference is in programmer expectations when they read your code in 2 years. structs are often assumed to be POD. Structs are also used in template metaprogramming when you're defining a type for purposes other than defining objects.

Out of all these factors,it can be concluded that concept Class is highly suitable to represent real world objects rather than "Structures".Largely because OOP concepts used in class are highly practical in explaining real world scenarios therefore easier to merge them to reality.For an example,default inheritance is public for structs but if we apply this rule for real world,it's ridiculous.But in a class default inheritance is private which is more realistic.

Anyways,what i need to justify is Class is a much broader,real world applicable concept whereas Structure is a primitive Concept with poor internal organization(Eventhough struct follows OOP concepts,they have a poor meaning)

Quoting The C++ FAQ,

[7.8] What's the difference between the keywords struct and class?

The members and base classes of a struct are public by default, while in class, they default to private. Note: you should make your base classes explicitly public, private, or protected, rather than relying on the defaults.

Struct and class are otherwise functionally equivalent.

OK, enough of that squeaky clean techno talk. Emotionally, most developers make a strong distinction between a class and a struct. A struct simply feels like an open pile of bits with very little in the way of encapsulation or functionality. A class feels like a living and responsible member of society with intelligent services, a strong encapsulation barrier, and a well defined interface. Since that's the connotation most people already have, you should probably use the struct keyword if you have a class that has very few methods and has public data (such things do exist in well designed systems!), but otherwise you should probably use the class keyword.

The difference between struct and class keywords in C++ is that, when there is no specific specifier on particular composite data type then by default struct or union is the public keywords that merely considers data hiding but class is the private keyword that considers the hiding of program codes or data. Always some programmers use struct for data and class for code sake. For more information contact other sources.

The main difference between struct and class is that in struct you can only declare data variables of different data types while in class you can declare data variables,member functions and thus you can manipulate data variables through functions.

-> another handy thing that i find in class vs struct is that while implementing files in a program if you want to make some operations of a struct again and again on every new set of operations you need to make a separate function and you need to pass object of struct after reading it from the file so as to make some operations on it . while in class if you make a function that does some operations on the data needed everytime..its easy you just have to read object from file and call the function..

But it depennds on the programmer which way he/she finds suitable...according to me i prefer class everytime just because it supports OOPs and thats the reason it is implemented in almost every languages and its the wonderful feature of all time programming ;-)

And yeah the most unforgotten difference i forgot to mention is that class supports data hiding and also supports operations that are performed on built in data types while struct doesnt !

The only other difference is the default inheritance of classes and structs, which, unsurprisingly, is private and public respectively.

The other answers have mentioned the private/public defaults, (but note that a struct is a class is a struct; they are not two different items, just two ways of defining the same item).

What might be interesting to note (particularly since the asker is likely to be using MSVC++ since he mentions "unmanaged" C++) is that Visual C++ complains under certain circumstances if a class is declared with class and then defined with struct (or possibly the other way round), although the standard says that is perfectly legal.

While implied by other answers, it's not explicitly mentioned - that structs are C compatible, depending on usage; classes are not.

This means if you're writing a header that you want to be C compatible then you've no option other than struct (which in the C world can't have functions; but can have function pointers).

You forget the tricky 2nd difference between classes and structs.

Quoth the standard (§11.2.2 in C++98 through C++11):

In absence of an access-specifier for a base class, public is assumed when the derived class is declared struct and private is assumed when the class is declared class.

And just for completeness' sake, the more widely known difference between class and struct is defined in (11.2):

Member of a class defined with the keyword class are private by default. Members of a class defined with the keywords struct or union are public by default.

Additional difference: the keyword class can be used to declare template parameters, while the struct keyword cannot be so used.

  • . In classes all the members by default are private but in structure members are public by default.

    1. There is no term like constructor and destructor for structs, but for class compiler creates default if you don't provide.

    2. Sizeof empty structure is 0 Bytes wer as Sizeof empty class is 1 Byte The struct default access type is public. A struct should typically be used for grouping data.

    The class default access type is private, and the default mode for inheritance is private. A class should be used for grouping data and methods that operate on that data.

    In short, the convention is to use struct when the purpose is to group data, and use classes when we require data abstraction and, perhaps inheritance.

    In C++ structures and classes are passed by value, unless explicitly de-referenced. In other languages classes and structures may have distinct semantics - ie. objects (instances of classes) may be passed by reference and structures may be passed by value. Note: There are comments associated with this question. See the discussion page to add to the conversation.