Types in C# are divided into two categoriesvalue types and reference types. C#'s simple types are all value types. A variable of a value type (such as int) simply contains a value of that type. For example, Fig. 4.10 shows an int variable named count that contains the value 7.
Figure 4.10. Value type variable.
By contrast, a variable of a reference type (sometimes called a reference) contains the address of a location in memory where the data referred to by that variable is stored. Such a variable is said to refer to an object in the program. Line 11 of Fig. 4.8 creates a GradeBook object, places it in memory and stores the object's memory address in reference variable myGradeBook of type GradeBook as shown in Fig. 4.11. Note that the GradeBook object is shown with its courseName instance variable.
Figure 4.11. Reference type variable.
Reference type instance variables (such as myGradeBook in Fig. 4.11) are initialized by default to the value null. string is a reference type. For this reason, string variable courseName is shown in Fig. 4.11 with an empty box representing the null-valued variable in memory.
A client of an object must use a reference to the object to invoke (i.e., call) the object's methods and access the object's properties. In Fig. 4.8, the statements in Main use variable myGradeBook, which contains the GradeBook object's reference, to send messages to the GradeBook object. These messages are calls to methods (like DisplayMessage) or references to properties (like CourseName) that enable the program to interact with GradeBook objects. For example, the statement (in line 20 of Fig. 4.8)
myGradeBook.CourseName = theName; // set name using a property
uses the reference myGradeBook to set the course name by assigning a value to property CourseName. This sends a message to the GradeBook object to invoke the CourseName property's set accessor. The message includes as an argument the value "CS101 Introduction to C# Programming" that CourseName's set accessor requires to perform its task. The set accessor uses this information to set the courseName instance variable. In Section 7.11, we discuss value types and reference types in detail.
Introduction to Computers, the Internet and Visual C#
Introduction to the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition IDE
Introduction to C# Applications
Introduction to Classes and Objects
Control Statements: Part 1
Control Statements: Part 2
Methods: A Deeper Look
Classes and Objects: A Deeper Look
Object-Oriented Programming: Inheritance
Polymorphism, Interfaces & Operator Overloading
Graphical User Interface Concepts: Part 1
Graphical User Interface Concepts: Part 2
Strings, Characters and Regular Expressions
Graphics and Multimedia
Files and Streams
Extensible Markup Language (XML)
Database, SQL and ADO.NET
ASP.NET 2.0, Web Forms and Web Controls
Networking: Streams-Based Sockets and Datagrams
Searching and Sorting
Appendix A. Operator Precedence Chart
Appendix B. Number Systems
Appendix C. Using the Visual Studio 2005 Debugger
Appendix D. ASCII Character Set
Appendix E. Unicode®
Appendix F. Introduction to XHTML: Part 1
Appendix G. Introduction to XHTML: Part 2
Appendix H. HTML/XHTML Special Characters
Appendix I. HTML/XHTML Colors
Appendix J. ATM Case Study Code
Appendix K. UML 2: Additional Diagram Types
Appendix L. Simple Types