difference between null an 0?

General FreeBASIC programming questions.
Hard
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difference between null an 0?

Postby Hard » Sep 22, 2009 20:10

hi there

is there any difference between null an 0?

thanks - hard
counting_pine
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Postby counting_pine » Sep 22, 2009 20:36

In FB, numerically, I don't think so. But if I had a specific NULL value I'd have it as an Any Ptr.

Code: Select all

const NULL as any ptr = 0

Anyway, here's what WP has to say on the matter:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointer_%2 ... ll_pointer
Check the third paragraph there for C-specific guidance.

Strictly speaking it doesn't have to be defined as 0, but it's a nice convention to keep to.
Hard
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Postby Hard » Sep 22, 2009 21:08

so when working with pointers null is the proper way?

btw: site admin? since when? congrats!
jevans4949
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Postby jevans4949 » Sep 22, 2009 22:55

The main advantage of defining a null pointer would be if you ported to some system where some other value was used. IBM Mainframe PL/1, built in the days of 24-bit addressing, uses the value x'ff000000' for the constant NULL. It was also usable when IBM moved to 31-bit addressing. They subsequently also defined a constant SYSNULL, which is 4 bytes of zeroes.

In most systems, the value 0 is a good way of defining a null pointer; it's usually bits of the operating system which live at that address, and most apps wouldn't want to hack about with that.
stylin
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Postby stylin » Sep 24, 2009 13:46

Aside from the other points discussed here, I like to use "null" since it describes at a glance exactly what I'm trying to express: a pointer that doesn't point to anything. "0" is very ambiguous; if I can't use an identifier, I prefer to use a literal that's at least the same type, and "cast(whatever ptr, 0)" is too much.
D.J.Peters
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Postby D.J.Peters » Sep 24, 2009 17:04

#define NULL CPTR(ANY PTR,0)
#define ZERO 0
notthecheatr
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Postby notthecheatr » Sep 24, 2009 19:56

Though they are generally stored the same way (to a computer, NULL == 0), it's good to keep the distinction in mind.

NULL literally means nothing; whereas 0 signifies the number 0. NULL may have different equivalents in different types; it means no number at all (rather than 0), or no characters at all in a string (the empty string ""). This actually has significance in an untyped language. Pointers are actually stored as numbers just like everything else, but it's good to think of them not as numbers but as a pointer to something; so NULL has the important distinction of, rather than merely being 0, being the pointer that points to nothing.
jevans4949
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Postby jevans4949 » Sep 24, 2009 21:14

The other context in which the word "null" may occur is in databases. In that case the significance is that the data item is not supplied (for some reason). In that case it needs to be different from 0. For example, "number of children" for a person; "unknown" is different from "none".
MichaelW
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Postby MichaelW » Sep 24, 2009 21:40

The word NULL appears frequently in the Windows API documentation, typically as a value passed in a required parameter to indicate that the parameter should be ignored or that some default value should be substituted.
Hard
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Postby Hard » Sep 24, 2009 23:41

thanks to you all guys

the topic should be really clear now

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