How do flags work?

This is a discussion on How do flags work? within the C++ Programming forums, part of the General Programming Boards category; I wonder this... how to flags work how do you intercept them and how to use them in your own ...

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    How do flags work?

    I wonder this... how to flags work how do you intercept them and how to use them in your own functions?

    Just a simple question i guess

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    When I think of flags I think of variables that can be used to alter flow at certain juctures based on their current value. They are usually used as conditionals in if/else statements or loops within a function. In the example below, parenthesisPresent is what I call a flag
    void processEquation(string & eq)
      bool parenthesisPresent = evaluateForParenthisis(eq);
    You're only born perfect.

  3. #3
    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Or you can use flags to pass information between functions.
    void func(int &i);
    int main() {
        int quit = 0;
        while(!quit) func(&quit);
        return 0;
    void func(int &i) {
        i = 1;

    Seek and ye shall find. quaere et invenies.

    "Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it." -- Alan Perlis
    "Testing can only prove the presence of bugs, not their absence." -- Edsger Dijkstra
    "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." -- John Powell

    Other boards: DaniWeb, TPS
    Unofficial Wiki FAQ:

    My website:
    Projects: codeform, xuni, atlantis, nort, etc.

  4. #4
    Hardware Engineer
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    A flag is a 2-state variable. (Like the red flag on a mail box... its either up, or down.)

    It is usually simply an integer with a value of 1 or 0, which represents a "state" or "condition" such as off or on, true or false, yes or no, etc. You might have a flag called LOOP, and then use something like while(LOOP = 1), or more commonly while(LOOP).

    Some typical flag variable names:

    Now, if you're not up-to-speed on you binary, this will be confusing... The Windows API uses lots of flags that are integer values which represent "bit-weights" or "bit positions". They have values that can be represented by one bit in a binary number... 1, 2, 4, 8, 16. This way, a single 32-bit integer can contain 32 different flags. They are usually "ored" together to define set of related conditions. You normally use these WinAPI flags without knowing their actual integer value or bit-position... You simply "or" the true flags together as needed.

  5. #5
    Tropical Coder Darryl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Cayman Islands
    I think the OP means bit flags for ex byte Flags = Foo | Bar;

    Bitflags extends the idea of a flag variable mention in the other post, but by using only 1 bit of a variable to represent each flag, many can be combined into a single variable to increase efficency.

    It basically works like this. You take any regular variable and assign meaning to each of its bits, individual flag are created to represent 1 bit of the variable, by combining them you can set various bits of the variable. In my instance I used an 8 bit byte (char) variable.

    What ever function that uses the flags can test the various bits of the storage variable to interpret the correct setting. Take my example above foo might be 00000001 and bar = 00000010. Or'ing them together like I did will produce 00000011;

    Now I can test the Flags variable like:
    If (Flags & Foo) to see if Foo bit is set and if (Flags & Bar) to see if Bar bit is set.
    Last edited by Darryl; 07-21-2005 at 01:19 PM. Reason: Clarity

Popular pages Recent additions subscribe to a feed

Similar Threads

  1. getline() don't want to work anymore...
    By mikahell in forum C++ Programming
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-31-2006, 10:50 AM
  2. Why don't the tutorials on this site work on my computer?
    By jsrig88 in forum C++ Programming
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05-15-2006, 10:39 PM
  3. Problems in getting OpenGL to work
    By zonf in forum C Programming
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 02-13-2006, 03:48 AM
  4. fopen();
    By GanglyLamb in forum C Programming
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 11-03-2002, 11:39 AM
  5. DLL __cdecl doesnt seem to work?
    By Xei in forum C++ Programming
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 08-21-2002, 04:36 PM

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21