Clear a TList or a TObjectList

I'm a bit puzzled of what to use for storing objects in a list. Until now I have used TList and freed each item in a loop. Then I discovered TObjectList that do this automatically from Free. Then I saw this from the doc of TList.Clear:

Call Clear to empty the Items array and set the Count to 0. Clear also frees the memory used to store the Items array and sets the Capacity to 0.

So it is basically the same. So

for TList


is the same as for TObjectList?


Can TObjectList only be used for items as classes or can I store records?


1. TList won't free the elements, with both Clear or Free.


Will just set aList.Count := 0 without freeing the aList.Items[] elements. So you'll leak memory. You'll need an explicit free as such:

for i := 0 to aList.Count-1 do

But this is what TObjectList does... :)

About TObjectList, it is worth saying that TObjectList.Destroy is calling Clear.



is exactly the same as


2. To store a list of records, you can use a dynamic array.

You'll get all TList methods (and more) with our dynamic array wrapper. That is, Add / Delete / Clear / Count / IndexOf / Find...

It has built-in serialization features (in binary or JSON), automated sorting and comparison (using RTTI) which are not existing with a TList/TObjectList. From Delphi 5 and later.

With more modern version of Delphi, you may use generics to handle the dynamic array, if you do not want to use a third-party library.

It's not the same TList.Clear only frees the memory allocated to store the pointers, not objects they are pointing to. To avoid memory leaks you need to free the memory yourself - as you have been doing - or use TObjectList.

To answer the second question, TObjectList doesn't support storing records. You need to use TList (or something else) in that case.

Read what the documentation is saying more carefully:

Clear also frees the memory used to store the Items array

Only the memory for the array itself is freed, not the memory used by individual elements inside the array.

If you are using a recent version of Delphi I suggest that you use a generic list.

Right now you probably need to do a lot of casting when you use the objects from the list. With a generic list you don't have to do that anymore.

For instance if you have:

TMyObject = class(TObject);

Then you make the list like this:

TMyObjectList = TObjectList<TMyObject>;

There is an article in the Embarcadero Wiki:

Really watching the TObjectList code in contnrs.pas OwnObjects does nothing. FOwnObjects is a variable declared in the private part of TObjectList that is not used anywhere in the TObjectList code (except just assigning the value), and there is no overridden Clear procedure in it.

So I'm afraid it necessary to free the memory just the same as in TList.

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