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7.5.0 Collection

The class Collection (gb) implements a hash table whose elements consist of a value-key pair.

  • The keys are generally of type String and the associated values of data type Variant.
  • A collection is to be understood as a data collection or data container.
  • ZERO is used as a value if no element is assigned to a specific key. Consequently, assigning ZERO for a given key is the same as if the data were removed from the collection.
  • The size of the internal hash table grows dynamically with the number of elements inserted.
  • The Collection class has two properties and five methods.
  • Generally, a collection is used if you want to identify data in a container by names instead of natural numbers, as is the case with arrays, for example. Properties

Properties of the class Collection:

PropertyData typeDescription
CountIntegerReturns the number of items stored in a collection.
LengthIntegerReturns the number of items stored in a collection. Count and length are used synonymously.
KeyStringReturns the key of the last read or enumerated element in a collection.

Table Class Collection properties Methods

The Collection class has the following methods:

MethodReturn typeDescription
Add (Value As Variant, Key As String) -Inserts an element - consisting of a value and a key - into a collection.
Clear ()-Deletes the contents of a collection.
Copy () As CollectionCollectionThis function returns a 1:1 copy of the original collection.
Exist (Key As String) As BooleanBooleanThe function returns True if there is a value bound to this key for the given key.
Remove (Key As String)-Removes the element with the specified key Key from a collection - if the element exists, which can be checked securely with the Collection. Exist (Key) method.

Table Methods of the Collection class Creating a Collection

There are different ways to create a collection:

(A) declaration of a variable of the data type collection and subsequent assignment of the element
(B) declaration of a variable of the data type collection with direct value assignment
(C) inline collection create
(D) copy of a collection Examples

The following examples implement the options listed in the previous chapter.

(A) declaration of a variable of the data type collection and subsequent assignment of elements

Dim hCollection As Collection

hCollection = New Collection ( [ Mode As Integer ] )

A new collection is created. Specifying mode is optional. The gb.binary mode is the default. The mode describes the method used for comparing keys and applies using the two gambas constants:

This constant represents 0 and indicates that capitalization is case-sensitive.
This constant represents 1 --> upper and lower case is ignored.

Example 1

Public Sub btnAddMethod_Click()
  Dim cCollection As New Collection(gb.IgnoreCase)
  Dim vValue, vElement As Variant
  Dim aNames As String[]
  Dim icount As Integer
  aNames = ["Adam", "Ben", "Charlie"]
' cCollection.Add(Value As Variant, Key As String) → First the value and then the key
  cCollection.Add("a", "a")
  cCollection.Add(3, "A")
  cCollection.Add(aNames, "v") ' The value is a string array
  cCollection.Add(False, "d")
  cCollection.Add(8.44, "e")
  cCollection.Add(Format(Date(Now), "d. mmmm yyyy"), "f")
  For Each vValue In cCollection
    If cCollection.Key = "v" Then
       For iCount = 0 To vValue.Max
         Print cCollection.Key & (icount + 1); " --> "; vValue[iCount]
       Next ' iCount
       Print cCollection.Key; " --> "; vValue
    Endif ' cCollection.Key = "v" ?
  Next ' vValue
End ' btnAddMethod_Click()

The output in the console of the Gambas IDE also demonstrates how to read the values associated with the key:

a  --> 3
v1 --> Adam
v2 --> Ben
v3 --> Charlie
d  --> False
e  --> 8,44
f  --> 7. April 2014

The capitalization of the key is ignored in this mode. The first element is therefore overwritten. The key “A” becomes “a” with the value 3, because two values are noted for the same key.

This also provides a clear answer to the question “Can you use different data types for the values in a collection?”:“ Yes - each value of a collection is of the type Variant and a variant can carry everything - independent of the collection and independent of the other values in a collection”.

Example 2

In example 1, you could also assign the values to the keys in this way:

' cCollection[Key As String] = Value As Variant → First the key and then the value
  cCollection["a"] = "a"
  cCollection["A"] = "3"
  cCollection["v"] = aNames ' The value is a string array
  cCollection["d"] = False
  cCollection["e"] = 8.44
  cCollection["f"] = Format(Date(Now), "d. mmmm yyyy")


The !-operator is a special operator for container objects that allow access to their elements using a' String' type key –> chapter 8.6. A collection is also included. The key string is written after the !-operator, so that for example cCollection! name is synonymous with cCollection[“Name”]. Note that the quotation marks around the key string are omitted when using the !-operator. In both cases, the return value is the value in the collection with the key “Name”.

sCurrent.Name = cCollection["Name"]
sCurrent.Name = cCollection!Name ' Alternative notation

(B) Inline Collection

Since revision #1699 (November 2008) there is a new syntax for creating a collection in Gambas. With this compact inline syntax, the key is noted first and then the value:

  Dim cNames As New Collection
  Dim vValue, vElement As Variant
' Syntax: Collection = [ Key: Expression [ , ... ] ]
  cNames = ["w": ["Anna", "Brit", "Claudia", "Doreen"],
           "m": ["Adam", "Bruno", "Clemens"],
           "Surname": ["Eagle", "Fox", "Cat", "Weasel", "Zebra"]]
' Output to the Gambas IDE console
  For Each vValue In cNames
      For Each vElement In cNames[cNames.Key]
          Print cNames.Key; " -> "; vElement
      Next ' vElement
  Next ' vValue

(C) Declaration of a variable of the data type collection with direct value assignment.

This variant uses the inline syntax:

Dim cCollection As Collection = ["Blue": &H0000FF&, "White": &HFFFFFF&, "Red": &HFF0000&]

(D) Copy of a collection

When you create a copy of an existing collection using the Collection. Copy () method, this copy is a standalone collection object:

  Dim cNames, cNamesCopy As New Collection
  cNames = ["w": ["Anna", "Brit"], "m": ["Adam", "Bruno"], "Surename": ["Eagle", "Cat"]]
  cNames["Surename"].Add("Mouse", 1) ' Insert after the Eagle (Index = 0)...
  cNames.Name = "cNAME"
  If cNames.Count > 0 Then
     cNamesCopy = cNames.Copy()
  Else ' Count = 0
     Message.Error(„The Collection '” & cNames.Name & „' has no elements”)
  Endif ' cNames.Count > 0

The statement cNames.Name = “cNAME” is described in –> section Accessing elements in a collection

You can access individual values of a collection, which requires precise knowledge of the key or all values:

  Dim cColour As New Collection
  Dim vValue As Variant
  cColour.Add("&HC3DDFF", "TColour")
  cColour.Add("&HD6D4D2", "HColour")
  cColour.Add("&HF5FFE6", "EColour")
  Print "The background colour is "; cColour["HColour"] ' Displaying an element
' Print "The background colour is "; cColour!HColour → Alternative
  For Each vValue In cColor
    Print cColor.Key, String.Chr(187), vValue ' Show all elements (key value pairs)
  Next ' vValue Export and import of a collection

A gambas-specific memory management is used, with which you can save a collection in a file (data export) or import the contents of a file into a collection (data import). Further information can be found in chapter Data export and data import.

Data export
The following procedure saves a collection in a binary, gambas-specific file:

Parameter1: File path to the export file
Parameter2: Reference to the selected collection

Public hFile As File
Public sFilePath As String = Application.Path &/ "url.list"
Public cData As New Collection
Public Sub Form_Open()
  If Exist(sFilePath) Then
     cData = ImportCData(sFilePath)
     For Each vValue In cData
     cData[""] = "ROCK ANTENNA"
  Endif ' Exist(sFilePath) ?
End ' Form_Open()
Public Sub ExportCData(sPath As String, cExport As Collection)
  If cExport.Count = 0 Then
     hFile = Open sPath For Write Create ' The export file is always created anew
     Write #hFile, cExport As Collection
     Close #hFile
     Message.Error("The data export was incorrect!" & gb.NewLine & "ERROR: " & Error.Text)
  Endif ' c.Count = 0 ?
End ' ExportCData(...)

This function imports the contents of a collection from a binary, gambas-specific file and returns a collection as a function value:

Parameter: File path to import file

Public Function ImportCData(sPath As String) As Collection
  Dim cTempImport As Collection
  hFile = Open sPath For Read
  cTempImport = Read #hFile As Collection
  Close #hFile
  Return cTempImport
  Message.Error("The data import was incorrect!" & gb.NewLine & "ERROR: " & Error.Text)
End ' ImportCData(...) Extension of the class' Collection'

If you want a collection to have a name - which it does not have - then expand the collection class by adding a class' Collection. class' to your project, exporting it and then adding the new' Name' property to the Collection class - the original class will be extended. Here follows the content of the newly created class file' Collection. class':

' Gambas class file
Property Name As String
Private $sName As String
Private Sub Name_Read() As String
  Return $sName
Private Sub Name_Write(Value As String)
  $sName = Value

Now you can assign an object name to each collection in your project and query it in the program. This is the only way to provide informative messages of the following type:

Dim cURL As New Collection
cURL.Name = "TX_URL"
If cURL.Count = 0 Then
   Message.Warning("The collection '" & cURL.Name & "' exist, but is empty!")
Endif ' cURL.Count = 0 ?

Details on extending or changing classes can be found in chapter 26? classes, modules and libraries.

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k7/k7.5/start.txt · Last modified: 05.02.2022 (external edit)

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