Introduction

In C++, structure and class are used to create user-defined data types that encapsulate data and functions (methods) together. Both structures and classes serve the same purpose in C++, but there are some differences in their default access control and behavior. the concepts of classes and structures are fundamental to object-oriented programming and data abstraction in C++, allowing you to create more organized and maintainable code by grouping related data and behavior together.

Class in C++

A class is a blueprint or template for creating objects in OOP. It defines the structure and behavior of objects that belong to it. A class contains data members (also known as attributes or properties) to represent the state of objects and member functions (also known as methods) to define their behavior. The data members are typically private or protected, and methods provide the interface to interact with and manipulate the data. The members can have different access levels: private, protected, and public. By default, the members of a class are private.

class MyClass {
private:
    int privateVar;
    
public:
    int publicVar;
    
    void myFunction() {
        // Code here
    }
};

To create objects of a class and access its members, you use the dot operator (.):

MyClass obj;
obj.publicVar = 10;
obj.myFunction();

Structure in C++

A structure, often referred to as a “struct,” is a lightweight data structure that groups multiple related data elements together, but unlike a class, it does not have methods or behaviors associated with it. Structures are typically used to represent a collection of data with no associated functionality. In some programming languages, structures can also have methods, and they can behave more like classes.

In C++, structs can have methods:

struct MyStruct {
    // Data members
    int attribute1;
    double attribute2;

    // Methods
    void method1() {
        // method implementation
    }

    void method2() {
        // method implementation
    }
};

Differences between Class and Structure:

  1. Default Access Control:
    • Members in a class are private by default.
    • Members in a structure are public by default.
  2. Inheritance:
    • Inheritance (the ability of a class to inherit properties and behaviors from another class) works only with classes and not structures.
  3. Usage:
    • Classes are typically used when you need to model complex entities with data and methods (e.g., a car, a person, etc.).
    • Structures are often used for simpler data structures where grouping related data is the primary concern (e.g., representing a point in 3D space).

It’s important to note that the exact features and capabilities of classes and structures may vary depending on the programming language being used. In some languages, the distinction between classes and structures may be less pronounced, and they may be used interchangeably. In other languages, such as C++, there may be specific differences in terms of member access control, inheritance, and default behavior.

FAQs

Q: Can a structure have member functions in C++?

A: No, a structure cannot have member functions in C++. It can only contain data members, making it suitable for simple data storage purposes.

Q: How can you access private members of a class?

A: Private members of a class cannot be accessed directly from outside the class. However, you can provide public member functions (getters and setters) within the class that allow external code to access and modify private members indirectly.

Q: What are the differences between a structure and a class in C++?

A: The main differences between structures and classes in C++ are:

  • In a structure, members are public by default, whereas in a class, members are private by default.
  • A structure does not support member functions, while a class can have member functions.
  • Structures are used for lightweight data storage, while classes are used for encapsulation and abstraction with methods.

more related content on Object Oriented Programming

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.