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BYOND Environment This page contains an entry from the official DM Reference.

At runtime, data objects are garbage collected. That means data which is no longer in use gets automatically deleted to free up system memory. This applies to text strings, lists, savefiles, datum objects, and so on.

What it doesEdit

The garbage collector works by using an efficient reference counting system. Once an item is no longer referenced by any variable, it gets deleted. For the most part, that frees you from having to think about memory allocation, which is wonderful, especially in the case of text strings, which tend to be allocated on the fly all over the place.

Things to knowEdit

Circular referencesEdit

There are a couple provisos that you should note. One is that circular references will never be deleted by the garbage collector. By circular reference, I mean a pair of objects with variables that point to each other, or even an object with a variable that points to itself. In rare cases, you may even depend on this behavior. When you are done with such objects, you should either null out the circular reference, or you should forcibly destroy each object with the del instruction.

Referenced by srcEdit

An object with running or sleeping procs is referenced by the src variable of those procs and will therefore not be thrown out.

contents listsEdit

Another note is that the world.contents list does not count as a reference. Otherwise, /mob and /obj objects would never be deleted, which is not the case. Note that objects which are contained by another object or which contain objects themselves are referenced and will not be deleted. That means an object must be at loc=null with no contents and, of course, no other references anywhere in order to get deleted by the garbage collector.

Mob's keys/object's tagsEdit

Mobs with a non-empty key and all objects with non-empty tags are also immortal.

Turfs and areasEdit

Turfs and areas do not currently get garbage collected.

World shut downEdit

When the world shuts down, all objects are destroyed, whether they are referenced or not. You don't have to worry about system memory getting consumed by persistent objects. That doesn't happen.

The del instructionEdit

In general, people who do not like reference counting garbage collection should be happy that DM provides a del instruction, allowing you to take charge and delete things whether they are referenced or not. Another nicety is that this automatically nulls out any existing references to the object, so you don't end up with dangling references to a deleted object, which can otherwise be a great source of instability and mysterious bugs.