iOS – How To Solve ARC Strong Reference Cycle In Swift ?

Hello Readers, CoolMonkTechie heartily welcomes you in this article.

In this article, We will learn about How to work Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) in Swift. We will discuss about Strong Reference Cycles problem and solution between Class Instances and for closures in Swift. Memory management is the core concept in any programming language. For more information about Memory Management Concepts, you can explore the below articles :

iOS – Why Is Advanced IOS Memory Management Valuable In Swift ?

A famous quote about learning is :

Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.

ARC Strong Reference Cycle In Swift

So Let’s begin.

Swift uses Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) to track and manage your app’s memory usage. In most cases, this means that memory management “just works” in Swift, and we do not need to think about memory management ourself. ARC automatically frees up the memory used by class instances when those instances are no longer needed.

However, in a few cases ARC requires more information about the relationships between parts of our code in order to manage memory for us. We describes those situations and shows how we enable ARC to manage all of our app’s memory. 

Reference counting applies only to instances of classes. Structures and enumerations are value types, not reference types, and are not stored and passed by reference.


How To Work ARC ?

Every time we create a new instance of a class, ARC allocates a chunk of memory to store information about that instance. This memory holds information about the type of the instance, together with the values of any stored properties associated with that instance.

Additionally, when an instance is no longer needed, ARC frees up the memory used by that instance so that the memory can be used for other purposes instead. This ensures that class instances do not take up space in memory when they are no longer needed.

However, if ARC were to deallocate an instance that was still in use, it would no longer be possible to access that instance’s properties, or call that instance’s methods. Indeed, if we tried to access the instance, our app would most likely crash.

To make sure that instances don’t disappear while they are still needed, ARC tracks how many properties, constants, and variables are currently referring to each class instance. ARC will not deallocate an instance as long as at least one active reference to that instance still exists.

To make this possible, whenever we assign a class instance to a property, constant, or variable, that property, constant, or variable makes a strong reference to the instance. The reference is called a “strong” reference because it keeps a firm hold on that instance, and does not allow it to be deallocated for as long as that strong reference remains.

Example :

Here’s an example of how Automatic Reference Counting works. This example starts with a simple class called Person, which defines a stored constant property called name:

class Person {
    let name: String
    init(name: String) {
        self.name = name
        print("\(name) is being initialized")
    }
    deinit {
        print("\(name) is being deinitialized")
    }
}

The Person class has an initializer that sets the instance’s name property and prints a message to indicate that initialization is underway. The Person class also has a deinitializer that prints a message when an instance of the class is deallocated.

The next code snippet defines three variables of type Person?, which are used to set up multiple references to a new Person instance in subsequent code snippets. Because these variables are of an optional type (Person?, not Person), they are automatically initialized with a value of nil, and do not currently reference a Person instance.

var reference1: Person?
var reference2: Person?
var reference3: Person?

We can now create a new Person instance and assign it to one of these three variables:

reference1 = Person(name: "John Appleseed")
// Prints "John Appleseed is being initialized"

Note that the message "John Appleseed is being initialized" is printed at the point that we call the Person class’s initializer. This confirms that initialization has taken place.

Because the new Person instance has been assigned to the reference1 variable, there’s now a strong reference from reference1 to the new Person instance. Because there’s at least one strong reference, ARC makes sure that this Person is kept in memory and is not deallocated.

If we assign the same Person instance to two more variables, two more strong references to that instance are established:

reference2 = reference1
reference3 = reference1

There are now three strong references to this single Person instance.

If we break two of these strong references (including the original reference) by assigning nil to two of the variables, a single strong reference remains, and the Person instance is not deallocated:

reference1 = nil
reference2 = nil

ARC does not deallocate the Person instance until the third and final strong reference is broken, at which point it’s clear that you are no longer using the Person instance:

reference3 = nil
// Prints "John Appleseed is being deinitialized"


How To Cause Strong Reference Cycles Between Class Instances ?

In the examples above, ARC is able to track the number of references to the new Person instance we create and to deallocate that Person instance when it’s no longer needed.

However, it’s possible to write code in which an instance of a class never gets to a point where it has zero strong references. This can happen if two class instances hold a strong reference to each other, such that each instance keeps the other alive. This is known as a Strong Reference Cycle.

We resolve strong reference cycles by defining some of the relationships between classes as weak or unowned references instead of as strong references. However, before we learn how to resolve a strong reference cycle, it’s useful to understand how such a cycle is caused.

Here’s an example of how a strong reference cycle can be created by accident. This example defines two classes called Person and Apartment, which model a block of apartments and its residents:

class Person {
    let name: String
    init(name: String) { self.name = name }
    var apartment: Apartment?
    deinit { print("\(name) is being deinitialized") }
}

class Apartment {
    let unit: String
    init(unit: String) { self.unit = unit }
    var tenant: Person?
    deinit { print("Apartment \(unit) is being deinitialized") }
}

Every Person instance has a name property of type String and an optional apartment property that is initially nil. The apartment property is optional, because a person may not always have an apartment.

Similarly, every Apartment instance has a unit property of type String and has an optional tenant property that is initially nil. The tenant property is optional because an apartment may not always have a tenant.

Both of these classes also define a deinitializer, which prints the fact that an instance of that class is being deinitialized. This enables us to see whether instances of Person and Apartment are being deallocated as expected.

This next code snippet defines two variables of optional type called john and unit4A, which will be set to a specific Apartment and Person instance below. Both of these variables have an initial value of nil, by virtue of being optional:

var john: Person?
var unit4A: Apartment?

We can now create a specific Person instance and Apartment instance and assign these new instances to the john and unit4A variables:

john = Person(name: "John Appleseed")
unit4A = Apartment(unit: "4A")

Here’s how the strong references look after creating and assigning these two instances. The john variable now has a strong reference to the new Person instance, and the unit4A variable has a strong reference to the new Apartment instance:

Reference Cycle
ReferenceCycle

We can now link the two instances together so that the person has an apartment, and the apartment has a tenant. Note that an exclamation point (!) is used to unwrap and access the instances stored inside the john and unit4A optional variables, so that the properties of those instances can be set:

john!.apartment = unit4A
unit4A!.tenant = john

Here’s how the strong references look after we link the two instances together:

 Strong References after the two instances link together
Strong References after the two instances link together

Unfortunately, linking these two instances creates a strong reference cycle between them. The Person instance now has a strong reference to the Apartment instance, and the Apartment instance has a strong reference to the Person instance. Therefore, when you break the strong references held by the john and unit4A variables, the reference counts do not drop to zero, and the instances are not deallocated by ARC:

john = nil
unit4A = nil

Note that neither deinitializer was called when we set these two variables to nil. The strong reference cycle prevents the Person and Apartment instances from ever being deallocated, causing a memory leak in your app.

Here’s how the strong references look after we set the john and unit4A variables to nil:

Strong References look after set the  variables to nil
Strong References look after set the variables to nil

The strong references between the Person instance and the Apartment instance remain and cannot be broken.


How To Solve Strong Reference Cycles Between Class Instances ?

Swift provides two ways to resolve strong reference cycles when we work with properties of class type: weak references and unowned references.

Weak and unowned references enable one instance in a reference cycle to refer to the other instance without keeping a strong hold on it. The instances can then refer to each other without creating a strong reference cycle.

Use a weak reference when the other instance has a shorter lifetime—that is, when the other instance can be deallocated first. In the Apartment example above, it’s appropriate for an apartment to be able to have no tenant at some point in its lifetime, and so a weak reference is an appropriate way to break the reference cycle in this case. In contrast, use an unowned reference when the other instance has the same lifetime or a longer lifetime.


Weak References

weak reference is a reference that does not keep a strong hold on the instance it refers to, and so does not stop ARC from disposing of the referenced instance. This behavior prevents the reference from becoming part of a strong reference cycle. We indicate a weak reference by placing the weak keyword before a property or variable declaration.

Because a weak reference does not keep a strong hold on the instance it refers to, it’s possible for that instance to be deallocated while the weak reference is still referring to it. Therefore, ARC automatically sets a weak reference to nil when the instance that it refers to is deallocated. And, because weak references need to allow their value to be changed to nil at runtime, they are always declared as variables, rather than constants, of an optional type.

We can check for the existence of a value in the weak reference, just like any other optional value, and you will never end up with a reference to an invalid instance that no longer exists.

“Property observers aren’t called when ARC sets a weak reference to nil.”

The example below is identical to the Person and Apartment example from above, with one important difference. This time around, the Apartment type’s tenant property is declared as a weak reference:

class Person {
    let name: String
    init(name: String) { self.name = name }
    var apartment: Apartment?
    deinit { print("\(name) is being deinitialized") }
}

class Apartment {
    let unit: String
    init(unit: String) { self.unit = unit }
    weak var tenant: Person?
    deinit { print("Apartment \(unit) is being deinitialized") }
}

The strong references from the two variables (john and unit4A) and the links between the two instances are created as before:

var john: Person?
var unit4A: Apartment?

john = Person(name: "John Appleseed")
unit4A = Apartment(unit: "4A")

john!.apartment = unit4A
unit4A!.tenant = john

Here’s how the references look now that you’ve linked the two instances together:

Weak References after linked the two instances together
Weak References after linked the two instances together

The Person instance still has a strong reference to the Apartment instance, but the Apartment instance now has a weak reference to the Person instance. This means that when we break the strong reference held by the john variable by setting it to nil, there are no more strong references to the Person instance:

john = nil
// Prints "John Appleseed is being deinitialized"

Because there are no more strong references to the Person instance, it’s deallocated and the tenant property is set to nil:

Weak Reference after deallocated and property set nil
Weak Reference after deallocated and property set nil

The only remaining strong reference to the Apartment instance is from the unit4A variable. If we break that strong reference, there are no more strong references to the Apartment instance:

unit4A = nil
// Prints "Apartment 4A is being deinitialized"

Because there are no more strong references to the Apartment instance, it too is deallocated:

Weak Reference after deallocated
Weak Reference after deallocated

“In systems that use garbage collection, weak pointers are sometimes used to implement a simple caching mechanism because objects with no strong references are deallocated only when memory pressure triggers garbage collection. However, with ARC, values are deallocated as soon as their last strong reference is removed, making weak references unsuitable for such a purpose.”


Unowned References

Like a weak reference, an unowned reference does not keep a strong hold on the instance it refers to. Unlike a weak reference, however, an unowned reference is used when the other instance has the same lifetime or a longer lifetime. We indicate an unowned reference by placing the unowned keyword before a property or variable declaration.

Unlike a weak reference, an unowned reference is expected to always have a value. As a result, marking a value as unowned doesn’t make it optional, and ARC never sets an unowned reference’s value to nil.

Use an unowned reference only when you are sure that the reference always refers to an instance that has not been deallocated. If we try to access the value of an unowned reference after that instance has been deallocated, we’ll get a runtime error.

The following example defines two classes, Customer and CreditCard, which model a bank customer and a possible credit card for that customer. These two classes each store an instance of the other class as a property. This relationship has the potential to create a strong reference cycle.

The relationship between Customer and CreditCard is slightly different from the relationship between Apartment and Person seen in the weak reference example above. In this data model, a customer may or may not have a credit card, but a credit card will always be associated with a customer. A CreditCard instance never outlives the Customer that it refers to. To represent this, the Customer class has an optional card property, but the CreditCard class has an unowned (and non-optional) customer property.

Furthermore, a new CreditCard instance can only be created by passing a number value and a customer instance to a custom CreditCard initializer. This ensures that a CreditCard instance always has a customer instance associated with it when the CreditCard instance is created.

Because a credit card will always have a customer, we define its customer property as an unowned reference, to avoid a strong reference cycle:

class Customer {
    let name: String
    var card: CreditCard?
    init(name: String) {
        self.name = name
    }
    deinit { print("\(name) is being deinitialized") }
}

class CreditCard {
    let number: UInt64
    unowned let customer: Customer
    init(number: UInt64, customer: Customer) {
        self.number = number
        self.customer = customer
    }
    deinit { print("Card #\(number) is being deinitialized") }
}

“The number property of the CreditCard class is defined with a type of UInt64 rather than Int, to ensure that the number property’s capacity is large enough to store a 16-digit card number on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.”

This next code snippet defines an optional Customer variable called john, which will be used to store a reference to a specific customer. This variable has an initial value of nil, by virtue of being optional:

var john: Customer?

We can now create a Customer instance, and use it to initialize and assign a new CreditCard instance as that customer’s card property:

john = Customer(name: "John Appleseed")
john!.card = CreditCard(number: 1234_5678_9012_3456, customer: john!)

Here’s how the references look, now that we’ve linked the two instances:

Unowned References after linked the two instances
Unowned References after linked the two instances

The Customer instance now has a strong reference to the CreditCard instance, and the CreditCard instance has an unowned reference to the Customer instance.

Because of the unowned customer reference, when we break the strong reference held by the john variable, there are no more strong references to the Customer instance:

Unowned References with the CreditCard instance has an unowned reference to the Customer instance
Unowned References with the CreditCard instance has an unowned reference to the Customer instance

Because there are no more strong references to the Customer instance, it’s deallocated. After this happens, there are no more strong references to the CreditCard instance, and it too is deallocated:

john = nil
// Prints "John Appleseed is being deinitialized"
// Prints "Card #1234567890123456 is being deinitialized"

The final code snippet above shows that the deinitializers for the Customer instance and CreditCard instance both print their “deinitialized” messages after the john variable is set to nil.

“The examples above show how to use safe unowned references. Swift also provides unsafe unowned references for cases where you need to disable runtime safety checks—for example, for performance reasons. As with all unsafe operations, we take on the responsibility for checking that code for safety. We indicate an unsafe unowned reference by writing unowned(unsafe). If we try to access an unsafe unowned reference after the instance that it refers to is deallocated, our program will try to access the memory location where the instance used to be, which is an unsafe operation.”


Unowned Optional References

We can mark an optional reference to a class as unowned. In terms of the ARC ownership model, an unowned optional reference and a weak reference can both be used in the same contexts. The difference is that when we use an unowned optional reference, we’re responsible for making sure it always refers to a valid object or is set to nil.

Here’s an example that keeps track of the courses offered by a particular department at a school:

class Department {
    var name: String
    var courses: [Course]
    init(name: String) {
        self.name = name
        self.courses = []
    }
}

class Course {
    var name: String
    unowned var department: Department
    unowned var nextCourse: Course?
    init(name: String, in department: Department) {
        self.name = name
        self.department = department
        self.nextCourse = nil
    }
}

Department maintains a strong reference to each course that the department offers. In the ARC ownership model, a department owns its courses. Course has two unowned references, one to the department and one to the next course a student should take; a course doesn’t own either of these objects. Every course is part of some department so the department property isn’t an optional. However, because some courses don’t have a recommended follow-on course, the nextCourse property is an optional. Here’s an example of using these classes:

let department = Department(name: "Horticulture")

let intro = Course(name: "Survey of Plants", in: department)
let intermediate = Course(name: "Growing Common Herbs", in: department)
let advanced = Course(name: "Caring for Tropical Plants", in: department)

intro.nextCourse = intermediate
intermediate.nextCourse = advanced
department.courses = [intro, intermediate, advanced]

The code above creates a department and its three courses. The intro and intermediate courses both have a suggested next course stored in their nextCourse property, which maintains an unowned optional reference to the course a student should take after after completing this one.

Unowned Optional References

An unowned optional reference doesn’t keep a strong hold on the instance of the class that it wraps, and so it doesn’t prevent ARC from deallocating the instance. It behaves the same as an unowned reference does under ARC, except that an unowned optional reference can be nil.

Like non-optional unowned references, we’re responsible for ensuring that nextCourse always refers to a course that hasn’t been deallocated. In this case, for example, when we delete a course from department.courses we also need to remove any references to it that other courses might have.

” The underlying type of an optional value is Optional, which is an enumeration in the Swift standard library. However, optionals are an exception to the rule that value types can’t be marked with unowned. The optional that wraps the class doesn’t use reference counting, so we don’t need to maintain a strong reference to the optional.”


Unowned References and Implicitly Unwrapped Optional Properties

The examples for weak and unowned references above cover two of the more common scenarios in which it’s necessary to break a strong reference cycle.

However, there’s a scenario, in which both properties should always have a value, and neither property should ever be nil once initialization is complete. In this scenario, it’s useful to combine an unowned property on one class with an implicitly unwrapped optional property on the other class.

This enables both properties to be accessed directly (without optional unwrapping) once initialization is complete, while still avoiding a reference cycle. This section shows you how to set up such a relationship.

The example below defines two classes, Country and City, each of which stores an instance of the other class as a property. In this data model, every country must always have a capital city, and every city must always belong to a country. To represent this, the Country class has a capitalCity property, and the City class has a country property:

class Country {
    let name: String
    var capitalCity: City!
    init(name: String, capitalName: String) {
        self.name = name
        self.capitalCity = City(name: capitalName, country: self)
    }
}

class City {
    let name: String
    unowned let country: Country
    init(name: String, country: Country) {
        self.name = name
        self.country = country
    }
}

To set up the interdependency between the two classes, the initializer for City takes a Country instance, and stores this instance in its country property.

The initializer for City is called from within the initializer for Country. However, the initializer for Country cannot pass self to the City initializer until a new Country instance is fully initialized, 

To cope with this requirement, we declare the capitalCity property of Country as an implicitly unwrapped optional property, indicated by the exclamation point at the end of its type annotation (City!). This means that the capitalCity property has a default value of nil, like any other optional, but can be accessed without the need to unwrap its value.

Because capitalCity has a default nil value, a new Country instance is considered fully initialized as soon as the Country instance sets its name property within its initializer. This means that the Country initializer can start to reference and pass around the implicit self property as soon as the name property is set. The Country initializer can therefore pass self as one of the parameters for the City initializer when the Country initializer is setting its own capitalCity property.

All of this means that we can create the Country and City instances in a single statement, without creating a strong reference cycle, and the capitalCity property can be accessed directly, without needing to use an exclamation point to unwrap its optional value:

var country = Country(name: "Canada", capitalName: "Ottawa")
print("\(country.name)'s capital city is called \(country.capitalCity.name)")
// Prints "Canada's capital city is called Ottawa"

In the example above, the use of an implicitly unwrapped optional means that all of the two-phase class initializer requirements are satisfied. The capitalCity property can be used and accessed like a non-optional value once initialization is complete, while still avoiding a strong reference cycle.


How To Cause Strong Reference Cycles for Closures ?

A strong reference cycle can also occur if we assign a closure to a property of a class instance, and the body of that closure captures the instance. This capture might occur because the closure’s body accesses a property of the instance, such as self.someProperty, or because the closure calls a method on the instance, such as self.someMethod(). In either case, these accesses cause the closure to “capture” self, creating a strong reference cycle.

This strong reference cycle occurs because closures, like classes, are reference types. When we assign a closure to a property, we are assigning a reference to that closure. In essence, it’s the same problem as above—two strong references are keeping each other alive. However, rather than two class instances, this time it’s a class instance and a closure that are keeping each other alive.

Swift provides an elegant solution to this problem, known as a closure capture list. However, before we learn how to break a strong reference cycle with a closure capture list, it’s useful to understand how such a cycle can be caused.

The example below shows how we can create a strong reference cycle when using a closure that references self. This example defines a class called HTMLElement, which provides a simple model for an individual element within an HTML document:

class HTMLElement {

    let name: String
    let text: String?

    lazy var asHTML: () -> String = {
        if let text = self.text {
            return "<\(self.name)>\(text)</\(self.name)>"
        } else {
            return "<\(self.name) />"
        }
    }

    init(name: String, text: String? = nil) {
        self.name = name
        self.text = text
    }

    deinit {
        print("\(name) is being deinitialized")
    }

}

The HTMLElement class defines a name property, which indicates the name of the element, such as "h1" for a heading element, "p" for a paragraph element, or "br" for a line break element. HTMLElement also defines an optional text property, which we can set to a string that represents the text to be rendered within that HTML element.

In addition to these two simple properties, the HTMLElement class defines a lazy property called asHTML. This property references a closure that combines name and text into an HTML string fragment. The asHTML property is of type () -> String, or “a function that takes no parameters, and returns a String value”.

By default, the asHTML property is assigned a closure that returns a string representation of an HTML tag. This tag contains the optional text value if it exists, or no text content if text does not exist. For a paragraph element, the closure would return "<p>some text</p>" or "<p />", depending on whether the text property equals "some text" or nil.

The asHTML property is named and used somewhat like an instance method. However, because asHTML is a closure property rather than an instance method, we can replace the default value of the asHTML property with a custom closure, if we want to change the HTML rendering for a particular HTML element.

For example, the asHTML property could be set to a closure that defaults to some text if the text property is nil, in order to prevent the representation from returning an empty HTML tag:

let heading = HTMLElement(name: "h1")
let defaultText = "some default text"
heading.asHTML = {
    return "<\(heading.name)>\(heading.text ?? defaultText)</\(heading.name)>"
}
print(heading.asHTML())
// Prints "<h1>some default text</h1>"

” The asHTML property is declared as a lazy property, because it’s only needed if and when the element actually needs to be rendered as a string value for some HTML output target. The fact that asHTML is a lazy property means that you can refer to self within the default closure, because the lazy property will not be accessed until after initialization has been completed and self is known to exist.”

The HTMLElement class provides a single initializer, which takes a name argument and (if desired) a text argument to initialize a new element. The class also defines a deinitializer, which prints a message to show when an HTMLElement instance is deallocated.

Here’s how you use the HTMLElement class to create and print a new instance:

var paragraph: HTMLElement? = HTMLElement(name: "p", text: "hello, world")
print(paragraph!.asHTML())
// Prints "<p>hello, world</p>"

” The paragraph variable above is defined as an optional HTMLElement, so that it can be set to nil below to demonstrate the presence of a strong reference cycle.”

Unfortunately, the HTMLElement class, as written above, creates a strong reference cycle between an HTMLElement instance and the closure used for its default asHTML value. Here’s how the cycle looks:

Closure Reference Cycles after creates creates a strong reference cycle between an HTMLElement instance and the closure used for its default asHTML value
Closure Reference Cycles after creates creates a strong reference cycle between an HTMLElement instance and the closure used for its default asHTML value

The instance’s asHTML property holds a strong reference to its closure. However, because the closure refers to self within its body (as a way to reference self.name and self.text), the closure captures self, which means that it holds a strong reference back to the HTMLElement instance. A strong reference cycle is created between the two. 

” Even though the closure refers to self multiple times, it only captures one strong reference to the HTMLElement instance.”

If we set the paragraph variable to nil and break its strong reference to the HTMLElement instance, neither the HTMLElement instance nor its closure are deallocated, because of the strong reference cycle:

paragraph = nil

Note that the message in the HTMLElement deinitializer is not printed, which shows that the HTMLElement instance is not deallocated.


How To Resolve Strong Reference Cycles for Closures ?

We resolve a strong reference cycle between a closure and a class instance by defining a capture list as part of the closure’s definition. A capture list defines the rules to use when capturing one or more reference types within the closure’s body. As with strong reference cycles between two class instances, we declare each captured reference to be a weak or unowned reference rather than a strong reference. The appropriate choice of weak or unowned depends on the relationships between the different parts of our code.

” Swift requires us to write self.someProperty or self.someMethod() (rather than just someProperty or someMethod()) whenever we refer to a member of self within a closure. This helps us remember that it’s possible to capture self by accident.”


Defining a Capture List

Each item in a capture list is a pairing of the weak or unowned keyword with a reference to a class instance (such as self) or a variable initialized with some value (such as delegate = self.delegate). These pairings are written within a pair of square braces, separated by commas.

Place the capture list before a closure’s parameter list and return type if they are provided:

lazy var someClosure = {
    [unowned self, weak delegate = self.delegate]
    (index: Int, stringToProcess: String) -> String in
    // closure body goes here
}

If a closure does not specify a parameter list or return type because they can be inferred from context, place the capture list at the very start of the closure, followed by the in keyword:

lazy var someClosure = {
    [unowned self, weak delegate = self.delegate] in
    // closure body goes here
}


Weak and Unowned References

Define a capture in a closure as an unowned reference when the closure and the instance it captures will always refer to each other, and will always be deallocated at the same time.

Conversely, define a capture as a weak reference when the captured reference may become nil at some point in the future. Weak references are always of an optional type, and automatically become nil when the instance they reference is deallocated. This enables you to check for their existence within the closure’s body.

” If the captured reference will never become nil, it should always be captured as an unowned reference, rather than a weak reference.”

An unowned reference is the appropriate capture method to use to resolve the strong reference cycle in the HTMLElement example from Strong Reference Cycles for Closures above. Here’s how we write the HTMLElement class to avoid the cycle:

class HTMLElement {

    let name: String
    let text: String?

    lazy var asHTML: () -> String = {
        [unowned self] in
        if let text = self.text {
            return "<\(self.name)>\(text)</\(self.name)>"
        } else {
            return "<\(self.name) />"
        }
    }

    init(name: String, text: String? = nil) {
        self.name = name
        self.text = text
    }

    deinit {
        print("\(name) is being deinitialized")
    }

}

This implementation of HTMLElement is identical to the previous implementation, apart from the addition of a capture list within the asHTML closure. In this case, the capture list is [unowned self], which means “capture self as an unowned reference rather than a strong reference”.

We can create and print an HTMLElement instance as before:

var paragraph: HTMLElement? = HTMLElement(name: "p", text: "hello, world")
print(paragraph!.asHTML())
// Prints "<p>hello, world</p>"

Here’s how the references look with the capture list in place:

Closure References with capture list
Closure References with capture list

This time, the capture of self by the closure is an unowned reference, and does not keep a strong hold on the HTMLElement instance it has captured. If you set the strong reference from the paragraph variable to nil, the HTMLElement instance is deallocated, as can be seen from the printing of its deinitializer message in the example below:

paragraph = nil
// Prints "p is being deinitialized"

That’s all about in this article.


Conclusion

In this article, We understood that How to work Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) in Swift. We also discussed about Strong Reference Cycles problem and solution between Class Instances and for closures in Swift. We saw how a strong reference cycle can be created when two class instance properties hold a strong reference to each other, and how to use weak and unowned references to break these strong reference cycles.

We understood Strong Reference Cycles with different scenarios below :

  • The Person and Apartment example shows a situation where two properties, both of which are allowed to be nil, have the potential to cause a strong reference cycle. This scenario is best resolved with a weak reference.
  • The Customer and CreditCard example shows a situation where one property that is allowed to be nil and another property that cannot be nil have the potential to cause a strong reference cycle. This scenario is best resolved with an unowned reference.
  • In a third scenario, in which both properties should always have a value, and neither property should ever be nil once initialization is complete. In this scenario, it’s useful to combine an unowned property on one class with an implicitly unwrapped optional property on the other class.
  • A strong reference cycle can also occur if you assign a closure to a property of a class instance, and the body of that closure captures the instance. Swift provides an elegant solution to this problem, known as a closure capture list.

Thanks for reading ! I hope you enjoyed and learned about the Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) and Strong Reference Cycles problem and solutions with different scenarios in Swift. Reading is one thing, but the only way to master it is to do it yourself.

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Thanks again Reading. HAPPY READING !!😊😊😊

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