Properties are an alternative to defining instance variables and their corresponding accessors methods. Let's go over the difference

Defining a Property vs. an Instance Variable

Without Properties

With Properties

What happens behind the scenes here are declarations for you accessor methods. This means with the above header and implementation code, you can operate on an instance of this object as follows.

Property Attributes

Each property has a set of attributes that describe the behavior of the accessor methods for that property. Here's an example.

There are three property attributes. Two of these must be specified and the 3rd has a default.
  1. The first attribute specifies either atomic or nonatomic. This has to do with multi-threading. Let's just say here that if you're doing a standard iOS app you should be using nonatomic.
  2. The second attribute specifies either readwrite or readonly. This tells Objective-C whether it should generate a getter and a setter(readwrite)... or just a getter(readonly).
  3. The final attribute has to do with memory management, which I've talked about in more detail here. The options here are weak, strong, or assign. Assign is the default which can be used for primitive values that don't point to an object. (like int)

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