Edit AllPages

A RootClass is a class which has no superclass. In many languages, such as Java, people speak of the root class. This is because every class is expected to descend from a unique root object (java.lang.Object in java).

ObjC is not such a language. In ObjC the inheritance graph is a disjoint union of trees, which is called a forest in graph theory. We call the root of each tree a RootClass.

Cocoa/ObjC exposes 3 public root classes, and there is nothing to stop the user from adding more (though the documentation warns that this is tricky). Cocoa itself defines an additional 5 (!) private root classes. I’ll list them here for interest’s sake.

Public root classes in Cocoa/ObjC:

NSProtocolChecker and NSDistantObject are public cocoa classes that descend from NSProxy.

Object does not implement the NSObject protocol (it’s a protocol as well as a class - check the docs), so instances of this class are not first-class objects in cocoa. In particular, Object does not implement retain or release. This does have some impact on us - you cannot directly put Protocol objects into an NSArray or NSDictionary!

And continuing..

Private root classes in Cocoa/ObjC:

None of the following classes have any subclasses in cocoa.

This is a convenience class for constructing invocations. It exploits message forwarding to allow the following:

NSInvocation *crystallizedMessage = [[NSInvocationBuilder builderForObject:tableDataSource] tableView:tableView objectValueForTableColumn:tableColumn row:4];


NSInvocationBuilder is probably a root class for the same reason that NSProxy is a root class: to catch all messages with forwardInvocation:.

I don’t see why it shouldn’t inherit from NSProxy.

NSProxy implements more methods than strictly necessary. It’s a good base for many things, but an NSInvocationBuilder that inherited from NSProxy would not (without manually overriding those methods) be able to catch calls to anything in the NSObject protocol.


This is very simple. Just create a class that a) does not inherit from anything, b) implements the NSObjectProtocol, and c) defines NSObjectProtocol’s message isProxy and returns TRUE.

@interface MyRootClass { }


@implementation MyRootClass


Simple, eh? While you’re at it, try implementing the retain/release/releaseCount system that you also find in NSObjectProtocol, or the self message that is also there. (this is probably not as easy) - PietroGagliardi

Actually it’s pretty easy. Reference counting can be implemented using NSIncrementExtraRefCount(), NSDecrementExtraRefCountWasZero() and NSExtraRefCount(). The self method should be as simple as “return self;”, and the -class method should be something like this (when not taking care of meta classes):