Thursday, May 19, 2016

cannot take the address of

To understand why this isn't possible, it is helpful to think about what an interface variable actually is. An interface value takes up two words, with the first describing the type of the contained value, and the second either (a) holding the contained value (if it fits within the word) or (b) a pointer to storage for the value (if the value does not fit within a word).

The important things to note are that (1) the contained value belongs to the interface variable, and (2) the storage for that value may be reused when a new value is assigned to the variable. Knowing that, consider the following code:

var v interface{}
v = int(42)
p := GetPointerToInterfaceValue(&v) // a pointer to an integer holding 42
v = &SomeStruct{...}
Now the storage for the integer has been reused to hold a pointer, and *p is now an integer representation of that pointer. You can see how this has the capacity to break the type system, so Go doesn't provide a way to do this (outside of using the unsafe package).

If you need a pointer to the structs you're storing in a list, then one option would be to store pointers to the structs in the list rather than struct values directly. Alternatively, you could pass *list.Element values as references to the contained structures.

Interface values are not necessarily addressable. For example,

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
    var i interface{}
    i = 42
    // cannot take the address of i.(int)
    j := &i.(int)
    fmt.Println(i, j)

Address operators

For an operand x of type T, the address operation &x generates a pointer of type *T to x. The operand must be addressable, that is, either a variable, pointer indirection, or slice indexing operation; or a field selector of an addressable struct operand; or an array indexing operation of an addressable array. As an exception to the addressability requirement, x may also be a composite literal.


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