Static vs. Dynamic Typing in Objective C


we talked about Objective-C being a statically-typed language, meaning that “the type of data each variable (or container) will hold is declared up front?” Well, that’s sort of true, but doesn’t describe the whole picture. I don’t want to overload this post with details about the language, but it’s important to mention that Objective-C is also a dynamic language, which means that some parts of our code can be extended and modified while our apps are running (i.e. after they’ve already been compiled). One example is the use of the generic data type called id. id can be used to represent any kind of data type. It’s the most generic form of specifying data; it simply stands for an “identifier” that is used to reference data. This type of dynamic typing allows for increased flexibility in how we code certain things. In iOS, we often see id used for methods that are tied to controls on the screen, like:

- (IBAction)save:(id)sender;

This is the declaration of a method, which we’ll talk about in an upcoming post. But notice that the sender parameter is of type id. This allows some flexibility in that our app doesn’t care if the sender is a button or an image or whatever else we might want to use to trigger this action.

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