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Embedding Gecko Basics

String Classes

Web browsing typically involves a large amount of string manipulation. Mozilla has developed a hierarchy of C++ classes to facilitate such manipulation and to render it efficient and quick. To make communication among objects simpler and more error free, Mozilla uses interfaces, which are, in essence, abstract classes. The string hierarchy is also headed up by a set of abstract classes, nsAString, nsASingleFragmentString, and nsAFlatString, and for the same reasons. (These refer to double-byte strings. There is a parallel hierarchy topped with nsACString, etc., that refers to single-byte strings.) nsAString guarantees only a string of characters. nsASingleFragmentString guarantees that the characters will be stored in a single buffer. nsAFlatString guarantees that the characters will be stored in a single null-terminated buffer. While there are underlying concrete classes, in general it is best to use the most abstract type possible in a given situation. For example, concantenation can be done virtually, through the use of pointers, resulting in an nsAString that can be used like any other string. This saves the allocating and copying that would otherwise have to be done. For more information, see "Guide to the Mozilla string classes" at

Written by: Ellen Evans | Comments, questions, complaints? Bug 141350