5.5. Generic Pointers

When a variable is declared as being a pointer to type void it is known as a generic pointer. Since you cannot have a variable of type void, the pointer will not point to any data and therefore cannot be dereferenced. It is still a pointer though, to use it you just have to cast it to another kind of pointer first. Hence the term Generic pointer.

This is very useful when you want a pointer to point to data of different types at different times.

Here is some code using a void pointer:

Example 5-3. generic_pointer.c

  int i;
  char c;
  void *the_data;

  i = 6;
  c = 'a';

  the_data = &i;
  printf("the_data points to the integer value %d\n", *(int*) the_data);

  the_data = &c;
  printf("the_data now points to the character %c\n", *(char*) the_data);

  return 0;