Object-oriented programming (OOP) is the most common programming type and an essential part of popular programming languages, such as Java, C++ and C#. Its name offers an insight into how OOP languages work, which is by revolving around objects and using objects to get things done. The term object refers to a chunk of code that acts together as a whole and can be reused at any time, as well as interact with other objects. Some of the very basic elements of OOP include objects, classes and methods. Object-oriented programming works in a way that enables programmers to reuse their code and use it in multiple different instances, without having to write the code all over again.
One of the most important concepts to be familiar with in OOP are classes. A class serves as a blueprint of an object, from which the programmer can instantiate the object as an instance of a class. For example, one could create a class named Presidents, and use it as a blueprint to create an object called Donald Trump. It can also serve as a basis to create any other president object and make sure that they all share some key properties. Some properties of the Presidents class might be date of election, percentage of votes and campaign slogan. This means that managing all the attributes of a class for separate objects works in a very straightforward and efficient way. In addition to the fact that most code packages are likely to contain several different classes, OOP is most likely the simplest method of manipulating such amount of data.
In connection with methods, objects and classes can become a very powerful programming tool. Methods are the procedures, which determine the actions that a certain object can perform. For instance, all objects of the Presidents class could contain methods such as make public speech, visit foreign country or declare war. Since the key element in OOP is the object, manipulating objects to have them perform the way the programmer wants them to is simpler than in other programming languages. In the above example, the code for making public speeches, visiting foreign countries or declaring war could only be written once, yet every object of the Presidents class could use the functions at any time. Similarly, all the objects would also contain properties, stating whether or not the object has made a public speech, visited a foreign country or declared war. In addition to common properties and methods, each object can also contain unique properties and methods. Some objects of the Presidents class, for instance, require a method, which allows them to resign, while most do not.
It is clear that object-oriented programming works in a way, which allows the programmer to easily and efficiently manipulate the key elements of their code. OOP has been the subject of some criticism, however there is no debate that it is a very powerful and practical programming tool. It provides the programmer with a simple yet efficient method of creating and manipulating parts of the code. Since OOP enables us to attribute, what a certain element of the code can do and what it is, handling and organizing larger amounts of data is not very demanding and time-consuming.
Image Credits: Photo by Émile Perron.