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Enumerations, or enums for short, have the power of descriptiveness that standard strings do while simultaneously retaining the simplicity and combinable nature of integers. This post covers why they are useful, as well as how to use them.

Robert Plante, Blogger

February 11, 2013

1 Min Read

 

Fans of Doctor Who will probably shun me for that titling. What are enumerators, or, more specifically, enums? To put it succinctly, enums are words that are actually numbers. What does this mean? It means that when you write your code you can check for words, but when it gets compiled the compiler takes those words and replaces them with numbers. You may wonder why to bother with such a thing. It's pretty simple really. Enums allow you to have readable code while keeping a small overhead. They are better than character strings because they are smaller, and they are better than just plain integers because they can be rearranged, and are much more readable. Below is an example enum use:

enum Skills = {Heal,               Harm,               Strengthen,               Weaken,               BuffArmor,               CorrodeArmor,               EnhanceAccuracy,               DegradeAccuracy,               PushPull}
public void ApplySkill(Skills skillType, float amount){    switch (skillType) {    case Skills.Heal:        health += amount;        break;    case Skills.Harm:        health -= amount;        break;    .    .    .    }}

You could just use integers, but it would be hard to keep track of which number represented what over a larger code-base. And while you could use strings, capitalization is not your friend, not only that, but professionally enums are the accepted solution as it will reduce the memory footprint and compiled file size.

 

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