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Re: Floating references

On Tue, 6 Jun 2017 21:23:09 +0200 (CEST)
Rafal Luzynski <digitalfreak@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> 6.06.2017 11:50 Stefan Salewski <mail@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > [...]
> > But I was wondering, why for newly created objects ref count is not
> > just zero, so when the element is put into a container it is just
> > increased to one.
> >
> > So there must be a reason why it can not work this way. Of course
> > when ref count drops to zero the element is deleted. But when a
> > newly created element just has ref count zero, where is the
> > problem?  
> Let's consider a system where a newly created object has ref count
> zero. Assume that you have created an object but changed your mind and
> decided you want to delete it.

Then just do what g_object_unref() would do, were the count to be 1:
finalize/free any members requiring it and then free the object itself.

> g_object_unref() raises an assert
> if ref_count is not > 0. But OK, this assert would have to be removed.
> So having ref_count == 0 you can't delete the object because ref_count
> is already 0. Or if you allow ref_count to be decremented, as
> ref_count is of type guint it would become 0xFFFFFFFF rather than -1.
> Then assume that g_object_ref() was called once. The next balanced
> g_object_unref() would make the object deallocated. You would have
> to call g_object_ref() immediately after creating to make sure the
> object exists until you decide to deallocate it.
> With floating object you can (you have a choice):
> - ref/unref the object any number of times as long as the number
>   of unrefs is never greater than the number of refs,
> - give an ownership to a container and forget the unref (the container
>   will take care of it),
> - unref the object to delete it.
> It looks like a good design to me. Even if a better system can be
> designed I believe it would not be much better and therefore not
> worth reworking.

In my present state of ignorance, I don't buy it.

No one is suggesting reworking.  This is no more than intellectual
interest in the original design choice.
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