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ArrayList by units and objects in Pascal

The last programming task my father had in store for me was writing a record store library application in Turbo Pascal. I was 14 years old and managed to produce something that would accept new records, artists and store them in a list that could be saved to and loaded from disc. The result didn't corrupt its database much more than SourceSafe corrupts its repository. What if we would try to recreate some of that application.

ArrayList in Pascal by objects and units

Yes! Turbo Pascal did have object orienation as of version 5.5 no later than 1989. If we're going to create a record library we should try to use the tools of abstraction available to us. By creating an ArrayList that abstracts the complexity of linked lists we could make the main program less complex. By creating a unit (pascal library) we can keep our abstraction in there, and call to it from our main program. Here's my implementation of the unit that contains the ArrayList.

unit Collections;
   (* Linked List )
   ListRef = ^List;
   List = record
    current : Pointer; ( Some object *)
    next : ListRef;

(* Array List Object *) ArrayListRef = ^ArrayList; ArrayList = object first : ListRef; last : ListRef; constructor Init; destructor Done; procedure Add(el : Pointer); function Empty : boolean; function Head : Pointer; function Tail : ArrayListRef; end;

implementation constructor ArrayList.Init; begin first := nil; last := nil; end;

(* Free all elements from the linked list ) procedure DisposeAll(list : ListRef); var next : ListRef; begin if list <> nil then begin next := list^.next; Dispose(list); ( Free memory *) DisposeAll(next); end end;

destructor ArrayList.Done; begin last := nil; DisposeAll(first); first := nil; end;

(* Add element to the list *) procedure ArrayList.Add(el : Pointer); var item : ListRef; begin New(item); item^.current := el;

if first = nil then
 first := item
 last^.next := item;

last := item;    


(* Is the list empty? *) function ArrayList.Empty : boolean; begin Empty := first = nil; end;

(* First element in list *) function ArrayList.Head : Pointer; begin if Empty then Head := nil else Head := first^.current

(* Rest of the list *) function ArrayList.Tail : ArrayListRef; var list : ArrayListRef; begin New(list, Init);

list^.first := first^.next;
list^.last := last;
Tail := list;

end; end.

  1. It is important that the name of the unit is the same as the name of the file.
  2. The interface declaration contains everything in the unit that should be visible to the calling program
  3. The ArrayList will contain an underlying linked list. In order to refrain from restricting the list to a specific type we store pointers to memory addresses in the list. This could be pointer to integers, strings, records or other objects.
  4. The object declaration looks pretty much like a record declaration, except it contains procedures and functions that belongs to the object.
  5. The constructor is the code that should be run on creation of the ArrayList.
  6. The destructure will clean up the memory that the list holds, when destructing the list. If we were just to dispose the ArrayList object, the underlying list would remain and hog up RAM, a so called memory leak.
  7. The implementation section of the unit is where we write the code. Here we can hide functions and procedures that we do not want to expose in the interface.
  8. DisposeAll will go recursively through the list and free memory of every item in it, before the whole object is disposed.
  9. ArrayList.Add is an instance method of the ArrayList that will take a pointer to an object and add it to the list. This is why we need the last-pointer that will remain pointing at the last element on the list.
  10. The Tail function will create a new ArrayList that will point to the next element in the list as its first element. This tail should be disposed after use, but not its contents since it is common with the main list.

Now we can use this list to store pointers to any kind of variable, record or object. In my program RecordStore I will use my ArrayList and add records to it.

program RecordStore;
 uses Collections; (* Import the type ArrayList *)

type RecordRef = ^RecordObject;

RecordObject = object title : string; artist : string; constructor Create(titleInput, artistInput : string); procedure Print; end;

var records : ArrayListRef;

(* RecordObject instance procedures *) constructor RecordObject.Create(titleInput, artistInput : string); begin title := titleInput; artist := artistInput; end;

procedure RecordObject.Print; begin Write(title); Write(' - '); Writeln(artist); end;

(* Main program *) procedure Add(title, artist : string); var myrecord : RecordRef; begin New(myrecord, Create(title, artist)); records^.Add(my_record); end;

(* Go through list and print every record ) procedure Print(list : ArrayListRef); var tail : ArrayListRef; current : RecordRef; begin if not list^.Empty then begin current := list^.Head; current^.Print; ( Print record *)

tail := list^.Tail;
Dispose(tail); (* Disposes the tail, not the records in the list *)

end; end;

begin (* Create new list of records *) New(records, Init);

Add('Dark side of the moon', 'Pink Floyd'); Add('The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', 'David Bowie'); Add('L.A. Woman', 'The Doors');

Print(records); Dispose(records, Done); end.

The possibilities here are endless.

  1. We import the previously created unit by name.
  2. We use an object to store the Record information. This object takes a title and artist in the constructor. It also have a procedure Print for writing the contents to stdout.
  3. Create a new RecordObject and add the pointer to the records list. This has now become trivial.
  4. Printing the list will now use the Head/Tail functionality and go through the list recursively and print Head. Just remember to dispose the tail (without calling done, because we don't want to destroy the list).

It is code like this that makes me happy. You can download it all from my bitbucket repository or just download it as a zip. Enjoy!

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