Objective-c – How to dump data stored in objective-c object (NSArray or NSDictionary)


Forgive me for a potentially silly question here, but in other programming languages (scripting ones like PHP or Perl) it is often easy to dump everything contained within a variable.

For instance, in PHP there are the var_dump() or print_r() functions. Perl has the Data::Dumper CPAN class, etc etc.

Is there something like this for Objective-C? It would be very convenient in a few cases to be able to dump everything like that, instead of using gdb to inspect each variable.

Best Solution

In Cocoa, there is no "dump" like PHP's print_r or python's repr since there is no textual format that "represents" an object as in those languages. If you use

NSLog(@"%@", myObj);


NSString *stringRep = [NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@",myObj];


NSString *stringRep = [myObj description];

you will get (logged to console in the first case), the result of [myObj description], a method defined in NSObject for the purpose of printing a description (not a dump) of an object.

If you invoke po myObj in gdb, you get [myObj debugDescription] (often the same as description, but not always).

Classes like NSArray and NSDictionary and NSData override description to print a pretty useful recursive description of their contents, but the default [NSObject description] prints only the pointer value corresponding to the instance.

If you control the code for the types in question, you can override their description or debugDescription methods to return anything you want. If not, you could override the description or debugDescription method using a category, or use a category to define a myDebugDescription or some such that you could then invoke from gdb using po [myObj myDebugDescription].