Records

So far, all the types we have encountered have values that are not decomposable: each instance represents a single piece of data. Now we are going to see our first class of composite types: records.

Records allow composing a value out of instances of other types. Each of those instances will be given a name. The pair consisting of a name and an instance of a specific type is called a field, or a component.

Record type declaration

Here is an example of a simple record declaration:

type Date is record
   --  The following declarations are components of the record
   Day   : Integer range 1 .. 31;
   Month : Months;
   Year  : Integer range 1 .. 3000; --  You can add custom constraints on fields
end record;

Fields look a lot like variable declarations, except that they are inside of a record definition. And as with variable declarations, you can specify additional constraints when supplying the subtype of the field.

type Date is record
   Day   : Integer range 1 .. 31;
   Month : Months := January;
   --  This component has a default value
   Year  : Integer range 1 .. 3000 := 2012;
   --                                 ^ Default value
end record;

Record components can have default values. When a variable having the record type is declared, a field with a default initialization will be automatically set to this value. The value can be any expression of the component type, and may be run-time computable.

Aggregates

Ada_Birthday    : Date := (10, December, 1815);
Leap_Day_2020   : Date := (Day => 29, Month => February, Year => 2020);
--                ^ By name

Records have a convenient notation for expressing values, illustrated above. This notation is called aggregate notation, and the literals are called aggregates. They can be used in a variety of contexts that we will see throughout the course, one of which is to initialize records.

An aggregate is a list of values separated by commas and enclosed in parentheses. It is allowed in any context where a value of the record is expected.

Values for the components can be specified positionally, as in Ada_Birthday example, or by name, as in Leap_Day_2020. A mixture of positional and named values is permitted, but you cannot use a positional notation after a named one.

Component selection

To access components of a record instance, you use an operation that is called component selection. This is achieved by using the dot notation. For example, if we declare a variable Some_Day of the Date record type mentioned above, we can access the Year component by writing Some_Day.Year.

Let's look at an example:

with Ada.Text_IO; use Ada.Text_IO; procedure Record_Selection is type Months is (January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December); type Date is record Day : Integer range 1 .. 31; Month : Months; Year : Integer range 1 .. 3000 := 2032; end record; procedure Display_Date (D : Date) is begin Put_Line ("Day:" & Integer'Image (D.Day) & ", Month: " & Months'Image (D.Month) & ", Year:" & Integer'Image (D.Year)); end Display_Date; Some_Day : Date := (1, January, 2000); begin Display_Date (Some_Day); Put_Line ("Changing year..."); Some_Day.Year := 2001; Display_Date (Some_Day); end Record_Selection;

As you can see in this example, we can use the dot notation in the expression D.Year or Some_Day.Year to access the information stored in that component, as well as to modify this information in assignments. To be more specific, when we use D.Year in the call to Put_Line, we're retrieving the information stored in that component. When we write Some_Day.Year := 2001, we're overwriting the information that was previously stored in the Year component of Some_Day.

Renaming

In previous chapters, we've discussed subprogram and package renaming. We can rename record components as well. Instead of writing the full component selection using the dot notation, we can declare an alias that allows us to access the same component. This is useful to simplify the implementation of a subprogram, for example.

We can rename record components by using the renames keyword in a variable declaration. For example:

Some_Day : Date
Y        : Integer renames Some_Day.Year;

Here, Y is an alias, so that every time we using Y, we are really using the Year component of Some_Day.

Let's look at a complete example:

package Dates is type Months is (January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December); type Date is record Day : Integer range 1 .. 31; Month : Months; Year : Integer range 1 .. 3000 := 2032; end record; procedure Increase_Month (Some_Day : in out Date); procedure Display_Month (Some_Day : Date); end Dates;
with Ada.Text_IO; use Ada.Text_IO; package body Dates is procedure Increase_Month (Some_Day : in out Date) is -- Renaming components from the Date record M : Months renames Some_Day.Month; Y : Integer renames Some_Day.Year; -- Renaming function (for Months enumeration) function Next (M : Months) return Months renames Months'Succ; begin if M = December then M := January; Y := Y + 1; else M := Next (M); end if; end Increase_Month; procedure Display_Month (Some_Day : Date) is -- Renaming components from the Date record M : Months renames Some_Day.Month; Y : Integer renames Some_Day.Year; begin Put_Line ("Month: " & Months'Image (M) & ", Year:" & Integer'Image (Y)); end Display_Month; end Dates;
with Ada.Text_IO; use Ada.Text_IO; with Dates; use Dates; procedure Main is D : Date := (1, January, 2000); begin Display_Month (D); Put_Line ("Increasing month..."); Increase_Month (D); Display_Month (D); end Main;

We apply renaming to two components of the Date record in the implementation of the Increase_Month procedure. Then, instead of directly using Some_Day.Month and Some_Day.Year in the next operations, we simply use the renamed versions M and Y.

Note that, in the example above, we also rename Months'Succ — which is the function that gives us the next month — to Next.