14.4.3 Out parameters

Out parameters (output parameters) are declared as follows:

Out parameters

--           -    -          ------------------------------------
  out parameter out identifier list - --------------           -|
                                :  -array- of--|type identifier

The purpose of an out parameter is to pass values back to the calling routine: the variable is passed by reference. The initial value of the parameter on function entry is discarded, and should not be used.

If a variable must be used to pass a value to a function and retrieve data from the function, then a variable parameter must be used. If only a value must be retrieved, a out parameter can be used.

Needless to say, default values are not supported for out parameters.

The difference of out parameters and parameters by reference is very small: the former gives the compiler more information about what happens to the arguments when passed to the procedure: it knows that the variable does not have to be initialized prior to the call. The following example illustrates this:

Procedure DoA(Var A : Integer);  
  Writeln(’A is ’,A);  
Procedure DoB(Out B : Integer);  
  Writeln(’B is ’,B);  
  C,D : Integer;  

Both procedures DoA and DoB do practically the same. But DoB’s declaration gives more information to the compiler, allowing it to detect that D does not have to initialized before DoB is called. Since the parameter A in DoA can receive a value as well as return one, the compiler notices that C was not initialized prior to the call to DoA:

home: >fpc -S2 -vwhn testo.pp  
testo.pp(19,8) Hint: Variable "C" does not seem to be initialized

This shows that it is better to use out parameters when the parameter is used only to return a value.

Remark: Out parameters are only supported in Delphi and ObjFPC mode. For the other modes, out is a valid identifier.