Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Objective-C Tuesdays: the do...while loop

Last time we looked at the while loop. Today we'll examine it's sibling the do...while loop.

Unlike the while loop, the do...while loop is guaranteed to execute the loop body at least once. The loop condition is checked at the end of each loop iteration.

The do...while loop starts with the keyword do followed by a single statement or block that makes up the body of the loop. The loop body is followed by the keyword while and parentheses containing the condition with a semicolon at the end.

The do...while loop is almost always written on three or more lines, and almost always with a block instead of a single statement.
/* do...while loop with a single statement */
while (condition);

/* do...while loop with a block */
do {
} while (condition);
Initialization of the loop counter or other loop variables must be done before the do...while statement; this often means declaring and initializing a local variable:
int i = 0;
do {
  /* ... */
} while (i < 10);
When using a loop counter, it's important to remember to advance the counter to the next value in the body of the loop. For instance, to log the numbers 0 through 9:
int i = 0;
do {
  NSLog(@"%d", i);
  i++; /* advance the loop counter */
} while (i < 10);
If you forget to advance the loop counter, you'll create an infinite loop.
int i = 0;
/* warning, infinite loop, i is always 0 */
do {
  NSLog(@"%d", i);
  /* oops, forgot to increment i */
} while (i < 10);
The key thing that differentiates the do...while loop from the while loop is that it always executes the loop body at least once; the while loop doesn't guarantee that. An example of this difference:
BOOL looping = NO;

NSLog(@"before while loop:");
while (looping) {
  NSLog(@"  executing the while loop");
NSLog(@"after while loop:");

NSLog(@"before do...while loop:");
do {
  NSLog(@"  executing the do...while loop");
} while (looping);
NSLog(@"after do...while loop:");
The output of these two loops looks like this:
before while loop:
after while loop:
before do...while loop:
  executing the do...while loop
after do...while loop:
Next week, we'll look at using break to break out of a loop.

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