If you want to understand more about coding, then it is essential to learn the basics of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). The reason for this is that it is one of the most common coding practices and is fundamental to software programming.
Object-Oriented Programming enables a programmer to create a basic coding foundation, which they can then reuse when necessary, and helps to develop the code more quickly.
Of course, coding can feel like an overwhelming skill to learn when you are just starting out because it is so unlike any other skill you will have likely been taught in the past. OOP is no different.
However, like any complicated subject, it is best to break OOP down into its constituent parts, to make it more manageable. These parts are objects and classes, abstraction, encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
These terms may sound alien right now, but this guide will help you understand the fundamentals of what each of them means.
This is a beginner’s guide to Object-Oriented Programming:
A definition of objects and classes
The first aspect of OOP you need to be aware of is objects and classes. Understanding the difference between these two terms is crucial to your understanding of this coding language.
Firstly, the class acts as the structure or blueprint for building an object. It sketches out the rough behavior and attributes of the object. If a class was creating the blueprint for a human being, you might include the actions of ‘sleeping’, ‘speaking’, ‘walking’ and ‘jumping’, for example.
Notice how these attributes are not specific to any single person, but the entire species. To this end, a class simply creates the general idea of what a human might act like. This then frees the programmer up to create specific objects within the umbrella class. They might act the same, but there will be variations in the finer details.
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The next term you need to learn is an abstraction, which allows you to concentrate on the actions of an object, rather than how it achieves it. Abstraction is useful if you want to build independent modules which can interact with each other in some way. It can also help you to maintain objects because you don’t have to constantly detail the internal mechanisms.
Another important term which is like abstraction is encapsulation. This reveals a solution to a problem without requiring the end user to understand what the problem is.
Essentially, it allows users to have a brief understanding of the underlying complexity of a programming system, without granting them too much access (which could put the health of the system at risk).
This is what organizes the various classes into a coherent hierarchy and allows lower classes to adopt some of the attributes of other classes higher up in the ranking.
This reduces the need to reuse code and minimizes the risk of duplication.
Lastly, you have polymorphism. This allows you to introduce new, specialized versions of a class into the system without it needing to understand what its specific properties are.
Essentially, this helps you create individual objects which are grouped together under an umbrella term – without these objects needing to be treated differently.
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