#328 – Copying a struct Will Not Copy Underlying Reference Types

Assigning a struct to a new variable will make a copy of the contents of the struct.  After the assignment, two copies of the struct will exist, which can be changed independently.

If the struct contains any reference-typed fields, only a reference to an object is copied.  Both copies of the struct will then refer to the same object.

Assume that we define the following struct:

        public struct MovieInfo
            public string Title;
            public int Year;
            public Person Director;

If we make a copy of the MovieInfo struct through an assignment, the Director field in the two copies will point to the same Person object.

            MovieInfo goneWithWind;
            goneWithWind.Title = "Gone With the Wind";
            goneWithWind.Year = 1939;
            goneWithWind.Director = new Person("Victor", "Fleming");

            // Actually makes a copy of entire struct
            MovieInfo goodClarkGableFlick = goneWithWind;

            // Change director's name
            goneWithWind.Director.FirstName = "Victoria";

            Console.WriteLine(goneWithWind.Director);            // Victoria Fleming
            Console.WriteLine(goodClarkGableFlick.Director);     // Victoria Fleming

About Sean
Software developer in the Twin Cities area, passionate about software development and sailing.

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