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ABL Essentials
Record Buffers and Record Scope : Record scope

Record scope

All the elements in an ABL procedure have a scope. That is, ABL defines the portion of the application in which you can refer to the element. The buffers the AVM uses for database records are no exception. In this section, you'll look at how record scope affects statements that read database records. The update-related actions include determining when in a procedure a record gets written back to the database and when it clears a record from a buffer and reads in another one. Remember that a reference to a database record is always a reference to a buffer where that record is held in memory for you, and all buffers are treated the same, whether you define them explicitly or they are provided for you by default.
There are some rules ABL uses to define just how record scope is determined. The rules might seem a bit complex at first, but they are just the result of applying some common-sense principles to the way a procedure is organized. To understand the rules, you first need to learn a few terms.
If you reference a buffer in the header of a REPEAT FOR or DO FOR block, this is called a strong-scoped reference. Any reference to the buffer within the block is a strong-scoped reference. What does this mean? The term strong-scoped means that you have made a very explicit reference to the scope of the buffer by naming it in the block header. You have told the AVM that the block applies to that buffer and is being used to manage that buffer. By providing you with a buffer scoped to that block, the AVM is really just following your instructions.
On the other hand, if you reference a buffer in the header of a FOR EACH or PRESELECT EACH block, this is called a weak-scoped reference. Any reference to the buffer within the block is a weak-scoped reference.
Why this difference? Keep in mind that a REPEAT block or a DO block does not automatically iterate through a set of records. You can execute many kinds of statements within these blocks, and if you want to retrieve a record in one of them, you have to use a FIND statement to do it. This is why naming the buffer in the block header is called strong scoping.
By contrast, a FOR EACH block or a PRESELECT EACH block must name the buffers it uses, because the block automatically iterates through the set of records the block header defines. For this reason, because you really don't have any choice except to name the buffer in the block header, the AVM treats this as a weak reference. the AVM recognizes that the buffer is used in that block, but it doesn't treat it as though it can only be used within that block. You'll see how the difference affects your procedures in the next section.
The third type of buffer reference is called a free reference. Any other reference to a buffer other than the kinds already described is a free reference. Generally, this means references in FIND statements. These are called free references because they aren't tied to a particular block of code. They just occur in a single statement in your procedure.
The following sections describe the rules that determine how the AVM treats record buffers that are used in different kinds of buffer references.
* Self-contained references to a buffer
* Generating a procedure listing file
* Nested, weak-scoped references to the same buffer
* Weak-scoped blocks and free references
* Scoping buffers
* Strong-scoped references and containing blocks