Node:Structure Concepts, Next:Structure Layout, Up:Structures
A structure object consists of a handle, structure data, and a vtable. The handle is a Scheme value which points to both the vtable and the structure's data. Structure data is a dynamically allocated region of memory, private to the structure, divided up into typed fields. A vtable is another structure used to hold type-specific data. Multiple structures can share a common vtable.
Three concepts are key to understanding structures.
Layout specifications determine how memory allocated to structures is divided up into fields. Programmers must write a layout specification whenever a new type of structure is defined.
Structure access is by field number. There is only one set of accessors common to all structure objects.
Vtables, themselves structures, are first class representations of disjoint sub-types of structures in general. In most cases, when a new structure is created, programmers must specify a vtable for the new structure. Each vtable has a field describing the layout of its instances. Vtables can have additional, user-defined fields as well.