What is the difference between struct and class in c++

This question was already asked in the context of C#/.Net.

Now I'd like to learn the differences between a struct and a class in C++. Please discuss the technical differences as well as reasons for choosing one or the other in OO design.

I'll start with an obvious difference:

  • If you don't specify public: or private:, members of a struct are public by default; members of a class are private by default.

I'm sure there are other differences to be found in the obscure corners of the C++ specification.


You forget the tricky 2nd difference between classes and structs.

Quoth the standard (§11.2.2 in C++98 through C++11):

In absence of an access-specifier for a base class, public is assumed when the derived class is declared struct and private is assumed when the class is declared class.

And just for completeness' sake, the more widely known difference between class and struct is defined in (11.2):

Member of a class defined with the keyword class are private by default. Members of a class defined with the keywords struct or union are public by default.

Additional difference: the keyword class can be used to declare template parameters, while the struct keyword cannot be so used.

Quoting The C++ FAQ,

[7.8] What's the difference between the keywords struct and class?

The members and base classes of a struct are public by default, while in class, they default to private. Note: you should make your base classes explicitly public, private, or protected, rather than relying on the defaults.

Struct and class are otherwise functionally equivalent.

OK, enough of that squeaky clean techno talk. Emotionally, most developers make a strong distinction between a class and a struct. A struct simply feels like an open pile of bits with very little in the way of encapsulation or functionality. A class feels like a living and responsible member of society with intelligent services, a strong encapsulation barrier, and a well defined interface. Since that's the connotation most people already have, you should probably use the struct keyword if you have a class that has very few methods and has public data (such things do exist in well designed systems!), but otherwise you should probably use the class keyword.

It's worth remembering C++'s origins in, and compatibility with, C.

C has structs, it has no concept of encapsulation, so everything is public.

Being public by default is generally considered a bad idea when taking an object-oriented approach, so in making a form of C that is natively conducive to OOP (you can do OO in C, but it won't help you) which was the idea in C++ (originally "C With Classes"), it makes sense to make members private by default.

On the other hand, if Stroustrup had changed the semantics of struct so that its members where private by default, it would have broken compatibility (it is no longer as often true as the standards diverged, but all valid C programs were also valid C++ programs, which had a big effect on giving C++ a foothold).

So a new keyword, class was introduced to be exactly like a struct, but private by default.

If C++ had come from scratch, with no history, then it would probably have only one such keyword. It also probably wouldn't have made the impact it made.

In general, people will tend to use struct when they are doing something like how structs are used in C; public members, no constructor (as long as it isn't in a union, you can have constructors in structs, just like with classes, but people tend not to), no virtual methods, etc. Since languages are as much to communicate with people reading the code as to instruct machines (or else we'd stick with assembly and raw VM opcodes) it's a good idea to stick with that.

Class' members are private by default. Struct's members are public by default. Besides that there are no other differences. Also see this question.

According to Stroustrup in the C++ Programming Language:

Which style you use depends on circumstances and taste. I usually prefer to use struct for classes that have all data public. I think of such classes as "not quite proper types, just data structures."

Functionally, there is no difference other than the public / private

STRUCT is a type of Abstract Data Type that divides up a given chunk of memory according to the structure specification. Structs are particularly useful in file serialization/deserialization as the structure can often be written to the file verbatim. (i.e. Obtain a pointer to the struct, use the SIZE macro to compute the number of bytes to copy, then move the data in or out of the struct.)

Classes are a different type of abstract data type that attempt to ensure information hiding. Internally, there can be a variety of machinations, methods, temp variables, state variables. etc. that are all used to present a consistent API to any code which wishes to use the class.

In effect, structs are about data, classes are about code.

However, you do need to understand that these are merely abstractions. It's perfectly possible to create structs that look a lot like classes and classes that look a lot like structs. In fact, the earliest C++ compilers were merely pre-compilers that translates C++ code to C. Thus these abstractions are a benefit to logical thinking, not necessarily an asset to the computer itself.

Beyond the fact that each is a different type of abstraction, Classes provide solutions to the C code naming puzzle. Since you can't have more than one function exposed with the same name, developers used to follow a pattern of _(). e.g. mathlibextreme_max(). By grouping APIs into classes, similar functions (here we call them "methods") can be grouped together and protected from the naming of methods in other classes. This allows the programmer to organize his code better and increase code reuse. In theory, at least.

The only other difference is the default inheritance of classes and structs, which, unsurprisingly, is private and public respectively.

One other thing to note, if you updated a legacy app that had structs to use classes you might run into the following issue:

Old code has structs, code was cleaned up and these changed to classes. A virtual function or two was then added to the new updated class.

When virtual functions are in classes then internally the compiler will add extra pointer to the class data to point to the functions.

How this would break old legacy code is if in the old code somewhere the struct was cleared using memfill to clear it all to zeros, this would stomp the extra pointer data as well.

  • . In classes all the members by default are private but in structure members are public by default.
    1. There is no term like constructor and destructor for structs, but for class compiler creates default if you don't provide.
    2. Sizeof empty structure is 0 Bytes wer as Sizeof empty class is 1 Byte The struct default access type is public. A struct should typically be used for grouping data.

    The class default access type is private, and the default mode for inheritance is private. A class should be used for grouping data and methods that operate on that data.

    In short, the convention is to use struct when the purpose is to group data, and use classes when we require data abstraction and, perhaps inheritance.

    In C++ structures and classes are passed by value, unless explicitly de-referenced. In other languages classes and structures may have distinct semantics - ie. objects (instances of classes) may be passed by reference and structures may be passed by value. Note: There are comments associated with this question. See the discussion page to add to the conversation.

Not in the specification, no. The main difference is in programmer expectations when they read your code in 2 years. structs are often assumed to be POD. Structs are also used in template metaprogramming when you're defining a type for purposes other than defining objects.

1)The members of a structure are public by default, the members of class are private by default. 2)Default inheritance for Structure from another structure or class is public.Default inheritance for class from another structure or class is private.

class A{
    int i;

class A2:A{

struct A3:A{

struct abc{
    int i;

struct abc2:abc{

class abc3:abc{

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
    abc2 objabc;
    objabc.i = 10;

    A3 ob;
    ob.i = 10;

    //A2 obja; //privately inherited
    //obja.i = 10;

    //abc3 obss;
    //obss.i = 10;

This is on VS2005.

Another main difference is when it comes to Templates. As far as I know, you may use a class when you define a template but NOT a struct.

template<class T> // OK
template<struct T> // ERROR, struct not allowed here

Here is a good explanation: http://carcino.gen.nz/tech/cpp/struct_vs_class.php

So, one more time: in C++, a struct is identical to a class except that the members of a struct have public visibility by default, but the members of a class have private visibility by default.

It's just a convention. Structs can be created to hold simple data but later evolve time with the addition of member functions and constructors. On the other hand it's unusual to see anything other than public: access in a struct.

ISO IEC 14882-2003

9 Classes


A structure is a class defined with the class-key struct; its members and base classes (clause 10) are public by default (clause 11).

The other answers have mentioned the private/public defaults, (but note that a struct is a class is a struct; they are not two different items, just two ways of defining the same item).

What might be interesting to note (particularly since the asker is likely to be using MSVC++ since he mentions "unmanaged" C++) is that Visual C++ complains under certain circumstances if a class is declared with class and then defined with struct (or possibly the other way round), although the standard says that is perfectly legal.

Class is only meaningful in the context of software engineering. In the context of data structures and algorithms, class and struct are not that different. There's no any rule restricted that class's member must be referenced.

When developing large project with tons of people without class, you may finally get complicated coupled code because everybody use whatever functions and data they want. class provides permission controls and inherents to enhance decoupling and reusing codes.

If you read some software engineering principles, you'll find most standards can not be implemented easily without class. for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOLID_%28object-oriented_design%29

BTW, When a struct allocates a crunch of memory and includes several variables, value type variables indicates that values are embbeded in where struct is allocated. In contrast, reference type variable's values are external and reference by a pointer which is also embedded in where struct is allocated.

I found an other difference. if you do not define a constructor in a class, the compiler will define one. but in a struct if you do not define a constructor, the compiler do not define a constructor too. so in some cases that we really do not need a constructor, struct is a better choice (performance tip). and sorry for my bad English.

The difference between struct and class keywords in C++ is that, when there is no specific specifier on particular composite data type then by default struct or union is the public keywords that merely considers data hiding but class is the private keyword that considers the hiding of program codes or data. Always some programmers use struct for data and class for code sake. For more information contact other sources.

Out of all these factors,it can be concluded that concept Class is highly suitable to represent real world objects rather than "Structures".Largely because OOP concepts used in class are highly practical in explaining real world scenarios therefore easier to merge them to reality.For an example,default inheritance is public for structs but if we apply this rule for real world,it's ridiculous.But in a class default inheritance is private which is more realistic.

Anyways,what i need to justify is Class is a much broader,real world applicable concept whereas Structure is a primitive Concept with poor internal organization(Eventhough struct follows OOP concepts,they have a poor meaning)

Classes are Reference types and Structures are Values types.
When I say Classes are reference types,
basically they will contain the address of an instance variables.

For example:

Class MyClass
    Public Int DataMember;  //By default, accessibility of class data members
                            //will be private. So I am making it as Public which
                            //can be accessed outside of the class.

In main method,
I can create an instance of this class using new operator that allocates memory for this class
and stores the base address of that into MyClass type variable(_myClassObject2).

Static Public void Main (string[] arg)
    MyClass _myClassObject1 = new MyClass();
    _myClassObject1.DataMember = 10;

    MyClass _myClassObject2 = _myClassObject1;

In the above program, MyClass _myClassObject2 = _myClassObject1; instruction indicates that both variables of type MyClass

  1. myClassObject1
  2. myClassObject2

and will point to the same memory location.
It basically assigns the same memory location into another variable of same type.

So if any changes that we make in any one of the objects type MyClass will have an effect on another
since both are pointing to the same memory location.

"_myClassObject1.DataMember = 10;" at this line both the object’s data members will contain the value of 10.
"_myClassObject2.DataMember = 20;" at this line both the object’s data member will contains the value of 20.
Eventually, we are accessing datamembers of an object through pointers.

Unlike classes, structures are value types. For example:

Structure MyStructure
    Public Int DataMember;  //By default, accessibility of Structure data
                            //members will be private. So I am making it as
                            //Public which can be accessed out side of the structure.

Static Public void Main (string[] arg)
    MyStructure _myStructObject1 = new MyStructure();
    _myStructObject1.DataMember = 10;

    MyStructure _myStructObject2 = _myStructObject1;
    _myStructObject2.DataMember = 20;

In the above program,
instantiating the object of MyStructure type using new operator and
storing address into _myStructObject variable of type MyStructure and
assigning value 10 to data member of the structure using "_myStructObject1.DataMember = 10".

In the next line,
I am declaring another variable _myStructObject2 of type MyStructure and assigning _myStructObject1 into that.
Here .NET C# compiler creates another copy of _myStructureObject1 object and
assigns that memory location into MyStructure variable _myStructObject2.

So whatever change we make on _myStructObject1 will never have an effect on another variable _myStructObject2 of type MyStructrue.
That’s why we are saying Structures are value types.

So the immediate Base class for class is Object and immediate Base class for Structure is ValueType which inherits from Object.
Classes will support an Inheritance whereas Structures won’t.

How are we saying that?
And what is the reason behind that?
The answer is Classes.

It can be abstract, sealed, static, and partial and can’t be Private, Protected and protected internal.

The main difference between structure and class keyword in oops is that, no public and private member declaration present in structure.and the data member and member function can be defined as public, private as well as protected.

You might consider this for guidelines on when to go for struct or class, https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms229017%28v=vs.110%29.aspx .

√ CONSIDER defining a struct instead of a class if instances of the type are small and commonly short-lived or are commonly embedded in other objects.

X AVOID defining a struct unless the type has all of the following characteristics:

It logically represents a single value, similar to primitive types (int, double, etc.).

It has an instance size under 16 bytes.

It is immutable.

It will not have to be boxed frequently.

I am seeing another different between structs and classes having to do with default initialization.

struct Foo {
    int a;

class Bar {
    int a;

class Tester {
    Foo m_Foo = Foo();
    Bar m_Bar = Bar();

    Tester() {}

int main() {
    auto myTester = Tester();

Run that code and examine myTester. You'll find that for m_Foo, the struct, m_Foo.a has been initialized to 0, but for m_Bar, the class, m_Bar.a is uninitialized. So there does appear to be a difference in what the default constructor does for struct vs. class. I'm seeing this with Visual Studio.

1) Members of a class are private by default and members of struct are public by default.

For example program 1 fails in compilation and program 2 works fine.

// Program 1
#include <stdio.h>

class Test {
    int x; // x is private
int main()
  Test t;
  t.x = 20; // compiler error because x is private
  return 0;
Run on IDE
// Program 2
#include <stdio.h>

struct Test {
    int x; // x is public
int main()
  Test t;
  t.x = 20; // works fine because x is public
  return 0;

2) When deriving a struct from a class/struct, default access-specifier for a base class/struct is public. And when deriving a class, default access specifier is private.

For example program 3 fails in compilation and program 4 works fine.

// Program 3
#include <stdio.h>

class Base {
    int x;

class Derived : Base { }; // is equilalent to class Derived : private Base {}

int main()
  Derived d;
  d.x = 20; // compiler error becuase inheritance is private
  return 0;
Run on IDE
// Program 4
#include <stdio.h>

class Base {
    int x;

struct Derived : Base { }; // is equilalent to struct Derived : public Base {}

int main()
  Derived d;
  d.x = 20; // works fine becuase inheritance is public
  return 0;

  • A struct is a value type a class is not.
  • Struct instances live on the stack class instances live on the heap
  • The compiler will always declare a constructure on a struct a class will not
  • The compile will not automatically init a field if you do not on a struct a class will.
  • With a struct you cannot init fields at their point of declaration with a class you can

I Just came across this simple yet important question. Major difference between struct and class that, Class is Reference type while struct is Value type. Thus, difference between them is encountered quite uncommonly.

There are 3 basic difference between structure and class

1St- memory are reserved for structure in stack memory (which is near to programming language )whether for class in stack memory are reserved for only reffrence and actual memory are reserved in heap memory.

2Nd - By default structure treat as a public whether class treat as a private .

3Rd- can't re -use code in structure but in class we can re-use same code in many time called inhertence

Category: c# Time: 2008-09-18 Views: 2

Related post

  • In Puppet, what is the difference between 'include' and 'class'? 2016-01-14

    I can either write include '::ntp' or I can write class { '::ntp':} What is the difference between them, or do I need both? --------------Solutions------------- There are differences, here are two big ones: Using include allows multiple declarations

  • What is the difference between mode and class in R? 2016-02-16

    I am learning R (I started just this week), and I've been struggling with the concepts of typeof, mode, storage.mode and class. I've been searching up and down (official R documentation, StackOverflow, Google, etc.), and I haven't been able to find a

  • What is the difference between instantiating and loading a class in Java? 2011-03-01

    In Java world, there are some scenarios where I see developers used to load the class rather than instantiation. What is the difference between instantiating and loading a class? --------------Solutions------------- In order for a class to be instant

  • What is the difference between Serializable and Externalizable in Java? 2009-05-03

    What is the difference between Serializable and Externalizable in Java? --------------Solutions------------- To add to the other answers, by implementating java.io.Serializable, you get "automatic" serialization capability for objects of your cl

  • what is the difference between delegate and datasource methods in objective-c? 2010-02-09

    I have a fundamental question related to Cocoa frameworks design patterns. What's the difference between delegate and data source? Both of them could use @protocols declaration, but some classes or frameworks are using delegate, and some others are u

  • What's the difference between compiled and interpreted language? 2010-04-17

    After reading some material on this subject I'm still not sure. I was told this is one of the differences between java and javascript. Would someone please help me in understanding it? Thanks, Mike --------------Solutions------------- What's the diff

  • What is the difference between DLNA and UPNP? 2010-12-28

    Can someone tell me the what is the difference between DLNA and UPNP? I can see that some device (such as NASes) specifications mention both (e.g., Iomega StorCenter) or only DLNA (e.g., Netgear Stora). Are these synonyms for the same thing or are th

  • What is the difference between \myname and \[email protected] while writing a .cls file? 2011-02-14

    What is the difference between \myname and \[email protected] while writing a .cls file? Are they equivalent? Please let me know if it is necessary to post a minimal example. Edit: Let me ask my question more clearly: What is the difference between the two fol

  • What's the difference between MariaDB and MySQL? 2011-11-17

    What's the difference between MariaDB and MySQL? I'm not very familiar with both. I'm primarily a front end developer for the most part. Are they syntactically similar? Where do these two query languages differ? Wikipedia only mentions the difference

  • What is the difference between wp_register_sidebar_widget and register_widget? 2012-04-02

    What's the difference between them and when should we use each one ? I'm using wp_register_sidebar_widget right now and it's working fine but I've seen a lot of tutorials online on how to create a widget using register_widget and a class, most of my

  • Other than syntax what is the difference between \dimen0= and \setlength{}{}? 2012-07-12

    I have been browsing around for a while trying to find an answer to the above question, and I have found some similar questions along with there answers, so I already have a vague idea how to answer my own question. As a result I am really just looki

  • What is the difference between \maketitle and \titlepage in Beamer? 2012-08-21

    I am looking for someone who has read the lengthy Beamer manual. Using \maketitle \begin{document} \maketitle \end{document} versus using \titlepage \begin{document} \begin{frame} \titlepage \end{frame} \end{document} What is the difference between \

  • What is the difference between \nobreak and \nolinebreak? 2013-01-17

    What is the difference between \nobreak and \nolinebreak? I noticed that a lot of solutions in TeX.SE use the former, but I thought the latter is LaTeX while the former is plain TeX. And LaTeX macros are often more fleshed-out versions of the more ru

  • What is the difference between t() and @Translation() in Drupal 8? 2013-08-21

    When writing a (translatable) plugin in Drupal 8, you have to use Drupal\Core\Annotation\Translation;, and then wrap your value in @Translation("value"), however when implementing the FormInterface, you can use t() freely as you would in Drupal

  • What is the difference between $post_id and get_the_ID()? 2013-08-31

    What is the difference between $post_id and get_the_ID()? I could not find any documentation on $post_id. --------------Solutions------------- get_the_ID() returns the ID of the current post by way of get_post. Get post assumes the current post to be

  • What is the difference between primary and secondary bootloader? 2014-03-23

    What is the difference between primary and secondary bootloader? Does primary and secondary refer to the two parts of the bootloader or two stages of the bootloader? I am confused. --------------Solutions------------- You're confused because it is an

  • What is the difference between LyX and LaTeX? 2014-08-25

    Currently I am using LaTeX to typeset all my math reports. Recently I found out that LyX also uses LaTeX, which can also generate PDF, accept commands from LaTeX, but is easier to use as it does not flood all the commands in one page. Question: What

  • What is the difference between ST_GEOMETRY and WKT? 2015-07-09

    What is the difference between ST_GEOMETRY and WKT? Is ST_GEOMETRY just a database type and WKT (well-known text) is a textual representation of the data? --------------Solutions------------- WKT is a text interchange format (Wikipedia) (PostGIS), an

  • What's the difference between @minus and minus? 2015-09-05

    When I look at different uses of glue in spacing, I see both \@minus and minus. What's the difference between \@minus and minus? --------------Solutions------------- You can see some information in my answer to \raggedyleft in memoir? The expansions

iOS development

Android development

Python development

JAVA development

Development language

PHP development

Ruby development


Front-end development


development tools

Open Platform

Javascript development

.NET development

cloud computing


Copyright (C) avrocks.com, All Rights Reserved.

processed in 2.955 (s). 13 q(s)