C++ Member (dot & arrow) Operators

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The . (dot) operator and the -> (arrow) operator are used to reference individual members of classes, structures, and unions.

The dot operator is applied to the actual object. The arrow operator is used with a pointer to an object. For example, consider the following structure:

struct Employee {
  char first_name[16];
  int  age;
} emp;

The (.) dot operator:

To assign the value "zara" to the first_name member of object emp, you would write something as follows:

strcpy(emp.first_name, "zara");

The (->) arrow operator:

If p_emp is a pointer to an object of type Employee, then to assign the value "zara" to the first_name member of object emp, you would write something as follows:

strcpy(p_emp->first_name, "zara");

The -> is called the arrow operator. It is formed by using the minus sign followed by a greater than sign.

Simply saying: To access members of a structure, use the dot operator. To access members of a structure through a pointer, use the arrow operator.




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