Objective-C Language Subscripting

Subscripts with NSArray

Subscripts can be used to simplify retrieving and setting elements in an array. Given the following array

NSArray *fruit = @[@"Apples", @"Bananas", @"Cherries"];

This line

[fruit objectAtIndex: 1];

Can be replaced by


They can also be used to set an element in a mutable array.

NSMutableArray *fruit = [@[@"Apples", @"Bananas", @"Cherries"] mutableCopy];
fruit[1] = @"Blueberries";
NSLog(@"%@", fruit[1]); //Blueberries

If the index of the subscript equals the count of the array, the element will be appended to the array.

Repeated subscripts may be used to access elements of nested arrays.

NSArray *fruit = @[@"Apples", @"Bananas", @"Cherries"];
NSArray *vegetables = @[@"Avocado", @"Beans", @"Carrots"];
NSArray *produce = @[fruit, vegetables];
NSLog(@"%@", produce[0][1]); //Bananas

Subscripts with NSDictionary

Subscripts can also be used with NSDictionary and NSMutableDictionary. The following code:

NSMutableDictionary *myDictionary = [@{@"Foo": @"Bar"} mutableCopy];
[myDictionary setObject:@"Baz" forKey:@"Foo"];
NSLog(@"%@", [myDictionary objectForKey:@"Foo"]); // Baz

Can be shortened to:

NSMutableDictionary *myDictionary = [@{@"Foo": @"Bar"} mutableCopy];
myDictionary[@"Foo"] = @"Baz";
NSLog(@"%@", myDictionary[@"Foo"]); // Baz

Custom Subscripting

You can add subscripting to your own classes by implementing the required methods.

For indexed subscripting (like arrays):

- (id)objectAtIndexedSubscript:(NSUInteger)idx
- (void)setObject:(id)obj atIndexedSubscript:(NSUInteger)idx

For keyed subscripting (like dictionaries):

- (id)objectForKeyedSubscript:(id)key
- (void)setObject:(id)obj forKeyedSubscript:(id <NSCopying>)key