Solved: function return modified self class

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C++ is a powerful language often used for complex systems and game development, but it also has a couple of unique features that make it somewhat intricate, especially for beginners. One such concept is the function that modifies and returns self-class objects. This concept of self-returning functions can be highly beneficial when utilized in the context of method chaining, improving both readability and code elegance.

Understanding Self-Returning Functions

In essence, self-returning functions are a C++ feature where a method returns an instance of its own encapsulating class. An excellent way to implement this in C++ is by returning a reference to the object on which the member function was called (‘*this’).

class MyClass {
MyClass& modify() {
// Modification code here
return *this;

In this code snippet, the modify() method does some modifications (represented by the placeholder comment) and then returns a reference to the invoking object (‘*this’).

Analyzing the Solution

The solution primarily revolves around the use of ‘*this’ keyword. In C++, ‘this’ is a keyword that contains a pointer to the object that is invoking the function. If we dereference the ‘this’ pointer (i.e., ‘*this’), we get the actual object, not just the pointer. Hence, when we return ‘*this’, we’re returning the current object.

  • First, within the MyClass class, we define a public function modify(). This function will be responsible for making changes to the class and returning the updated class.
  • The body of the modify function contains the modification code, after which ‘*this’ is returned. This step effectively returns the modified object.

Deep Dive into Function Return

In C++, the function return type is the data type of the value the function returns. Some functions perform the desired operations without returning a value. In this case, the return type is the keyword ‘void’.

However, most functions perform computations and then return a result of a specific type. The function we described earlier returns a reference to an object, signified by ‘MyClass&’. It signifies the type of data that our function is going to return.

But, why return a reference? Returning a reference, instead of the object, prevents extra copying and provides a potential performance boost. If we returned the object itself, C++ would have to construct a new object and copy all the data from the original object. This approach might be fine for small objects but for larger ones, it can significantly affect run-time performance.

In understanding fashion trends, think of self-returning functions in C++ as the ‘layered look’ in clothing. Just as one piece complements the other to create a cumulatively appealing effect, these self-returning object references allow us to chain methods together to produce cleaner and more readable code.

Remember, understanding the nuances of your programming language is like keeping up with fashion trends: it requires study, understanding and practice but it’s well worth the effort.

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