NSCopying Protocol Reference

Adopted by
Various Cocoa classes
Framework
/System/Library/Frameworks/Foundation.framework
Availability
Available in iOS 2.0 and later.
Companion guide
Declared in
NSObject.h
Related sample code

Overview

The NSCopying protocol declares a method for providing functional copies of an object. The exact meaning of “copy” can vary from class to class, but a copy must be a functionally independent object with values identical to the original at the time the copy was made. A copy produced with NSCopying is implicitly retained by the sender, who is responsible for releasing it.

NSCopying declares one method, copyWithZone:, but copying is commonly invoked with the convenience method copy. The copy method is defined for all objects inheriting from NSObject and simply invokes copyWithZone: with the default zone.

Your options for implementing this protocol are as follows:

If a subclass inherits NSCopying from its superclass and declares additional instance variables, the subclass has to override copyWithZone: to properly handle its own instance variables, invoking the superclass’s implementation first.

Tasks

Copying

Instance Methods

copyWithZone:

Returns a new instance that’s a copy of the receiver. (required)

- (id)copyWithZone:(NSZone *)zone
Parameters
zone

The zone identifies an area of memory from which to allocate for the new instance. If zone is NULL, the new instance is allocated from the default zone, which is returned from the function NSDefaultMallocZone.

Discussion

The returned object is implicitly retained by the sender, who is responsible for releasing it. The copy returned is immutable if the consideration “immutable vs. mutable” applies to the receiving object; otherwise the exact nature of the copy is determined by the class.

Availability
  • Available in iOS 2.0 and later.
See Also
Declared In
NSObject.h