This entry comes a bit late as this final week of school has been keeping me on my toes and I was a bit delayed in publishing this to being with, hopefully any readers might forgive this tardiness and the berevity of this post.
The week of the 22 Apr was a fun-filled week full of last minute touches to the project as we began to go over the different approaches to pointers.
The first of which was a simple ‘has a’ relationship in which the handle class(henceforth ‘Handle1’) contained the pointer. This approach was nice because it helped to solve the problem of memory managment (from the perspective of the main program) and pushed this down into the Handle1 object and the containing class(as its destructor invoked the destructor of the handle). The drawbacks to this implementation was that to give access to the methods of the pointer we would either have to loosen the encapsulation of the pointer or define a common interface, we choose the common interface initially.
Handle2 was the second revision in which we loosened the encapsulation instead allowing pointer like operations with operator* and operator->. The good: this allowed us to not have to define the public interface, as such allowing for non-shared methods of the interface to be invoked (after verifying the type and typcasting). The bad: by giving up the pointer we lost control of the data and the user could swap it out and then we would have the potential to leak memory.
The third and final handle(Handle3) was our attempt at a copy on write pointer encapsulation. The objective being, since we often have a spare matrix in which many cells never get written it would be nice to not have to have a unique value of a null object for each non-used cell. The overhead is that we would need to track how many locations are using the same pointer by a separate count and as such increase the level of indirection so we could modify this count only once for all instances of the pointer and then only alter the one that we need to when written
In summation it would have been nice to use a copy on write pointer that implemented the common interface for the Life project, due to deadlines we went with a similar but not optimal approach in which we had the multiple levels of indirection and a common interface but initialized all of the pointers to null objects initially.