UE5 Creating Predicates for TArray, TMap And TSets

While trying to sort a TArray in unreal engine you may come across a requirement to define a  PREDICATE_CLASS& Predicate. In this tutorial, we will explain this type and how to define your own. You will mostly encounter this while working in C++ with algorithms that deal with unreal engine containers like TArray and TMap.

  1. What are Predicates In Unreal Engine

A Predicate in Unreal Engine C++ API is a function that returns a bool that takes two objects of the same class and compares them. How you compare the objects is up to you, you just need to return a bool when you are done. These type of functions will help unreal engine sort your TArray based on anything you would. For example you may wish to sort Actors by Mesh Size, their speed or any variable.  If you have dealt with overriding comparison operators in C++ , then you’ll be very glad to know Predicates are very similar to that.

  1. Common Functions That Require Predicates

As mentioned in the intro, you may encounter Predicates when dealing with container algorithms like 

And a few more like that and they all require something like
( const PREDICATE_CLASS& Predicate) 
as an argument.

  1. Creating Predicates In UE5 C++

Now that we have covered what they are, We will cover how to create them.

There are two main ways to define predicates. You can either use Lambdas or define a static function in the class of the objects.

The function/lambda IS the predicate and that’s what the functions like Sort() are asking you for.

They are asking you to submit a function that they will use to compare 2 objects that sit in the array. This function will get called multiple times by the Sort() function as it tries to determine what comes first.

Lambda functions vs Static Functions

Because we almost always favor readability and reusability over short and impressive code, we will start and advice you to use static functions.

Lamda functions are cool but they are not very readable.They are also not reusable, so you would have to re-type your code when submitting another Predicate elsewhere in your code. Some may consider them an advanced topic. Chances are if you already know what Lambdas are, you probably can figure out how to use predicates from here. We will cover  Static Functions method below instead.

Creating & Using Static Function Predicates

Creating your predicates as static functions in your class allows you to reuse them many times in any part of your project. It’s a write-once approach.

  1. Create the static member function

The following points are important.

Go to your class and create a static function that will take two objects from that very class. You can either pass them BY REFERENCE or as Pointers. We will explain when to use which after the following code example.

					class UApples
    double Size;
    static bool CompareAscending(const UApples& AppleA, const UApples& AppleB)
		return AppleA.Size < AppleA.Size;

In this example we are passing them in by reference because the TArray::Sort() function REQUIRES your predicate to take in references even if your TArray is made up of pointers.

So TArray<UApples*> will still require a predicate using UApples&…

If you want to use Pointers you will need to call Algo::Sort… That’s a topic for another day.

Don’t forget to make your function static.

We’ve just created our predicate, now let’s see how to use it.

  1. Use The Static Function As A Predicate

The following code is an example of a predicate (static function) in use in the sort function. Notice how we don’t include function arguments or brackets. Just submitting the function’s name;

					TArray<UApples*> Apples;