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OOPs Concepts and .

NET
Summary

The following article kicks off a three-part article series that will present definitions
and samples for different Object-Oriented Programming concepts and its
implementation in .NET. The first part will examine the concepts of classes, objects,
and structures. The second part will examine the concepts of inheritance,
abstraction, and polymorphism. The third and last part will examine the concepts of
interface, multiple interface inheritance, collections, and overloading.

Introduction

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is a software development paradigm that


suggests developers to split a program in building blocks known as objects. The OOP
paradigm allows developers to define the object’s data, functions, and its relationship
with other objects.

Microsoft created the .NET Framework using OOP, and knowing this concepts has
helped me to understand the .NET Framework and to design and develop better
software components. The purpose of this article is to describe the basic OOP
concepts using real world scenarios and to provide some code samples that
demonstrate how to work with OOP and .NET.

Class

The most common definition states that a class is a template for an object. Suppose
that someone builds a paper pattern for a shirt. All the shirts done with the same
paper pattern will be identical (same design, size, etc.). In this sample, the paper
pattern is the class and the shirt is the object. To build the same exact shirt over and
over, you need the paper pattern as a template. Another great example are house
plans and blueprints. The plans and blueprints define the number of rooms, the size
of the kitchen, the number of floors, and more. In this real world sample, the house
plans and blueprints are the class and the house is the object. In OOP you program a
class as a template for a specific object or groups ob objects that will always have
the same features.

Class members

A class has different members, and developers in Microsoft suggest to program them
in the following order:

• Namespace: The namespace is a keyword that defines a distinctive name or


last name for the class. A namespace categorizes and organizes the library
(assembly) where the class belongs and avoids collisions with classes that
share the same name.
• Class declaration: Line of code where the class name and type are defined.
• Fields: Set of variables declared in a class block.
• Constants: Set of constants declared in a class block.
• Constructors: A method or group of methods that contains code to initialize
the class.
• Properties: The set of descriptive data of an object.
• Events: Program responses that get fired after a user or application action.
• Methods: Set of functions of the class.
• Destructor: A method that is called when the class is destroyed. In managed
code, the Garbage Collector is in charge of destroying objects; however, in
some cases developers need to take extra actions when objects are being
released, such as freeing handles or deallocating unmanaged objects. In .NET,
there is no concept of deterministic destructors. The Garbage Collector will
call the Finalize() method at a non-deterministic time while reclaiming
memory for the application.

Access keywords

Access keywords define the access to class members from the same class and from
other classes. The most common access keywords are:

• Public: Allows access to the class member from any other class.
• Private: Allows access to the class member only in the same class.
• Protected: Allows access to the class member only within the same class and
from inherited classes.
• Internal: Allows access to the class member only in the same assembly.
• Protected internal: Allows access to the class member only within the same
class, from inherited classes, and other classes in the same assembly.
• Static: Indicates that the member can be called without first instantiating the
class.

The following sample code illustrates a sample class in C#:


/// C#
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
///Imported namespaces
using System;
/// Namespace: Consider using CompanyName.Product.ComponentType
namespace DotNetTreats.OOSE.OOP_CSharp {
///Class declaration
public class employee {
///Fields
private string _name;
private int _salary;
///Constants
private const int anualBonus = 1000;
///Constructor
public employee(){
}
///Properties
public string Name {
get {
return _name;
}
set {
_name = value;
}
}
public int Salary {
get {
return _salary;
}
set {
_salary = value;
}
}
/// Event handlers
public event EventHandler OnPromotion {
add {
}
remove {
}
}
/// Methods
public void DuplicateSalary() {
_salary = _salary*2;
}
}
}
Listing 1. Sample class implementation in C#
The following sample code illustrates a sample class in VB.NET:
' VB.NET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Imported namespaces
Imports System
' Namespace: Consider using CompanyName.Product.ComponentType
Namespace DotNetTreats.OOSE.OOP_VBNET
'Class declaration
Public Class employee
'Fields
Private _name As String
Private _salary As Integer
'Constants
Private Const anualBonus As Integer = 1000
'Constructors
Public Sub New()
MyBase.New
End Sub
'Properties
Public Property Name As String
Get
Return _name
End Get
Set
_name = value
End Set
End Property
Public Property Salary As Integer
Get
Return _salary
End Get
Set
_salary = value
End Set
End Property
' Event handlers
Public Event OnPromotion As EventHandler
'Methods
Public Sub DuplicateSalary()
_salary = (_salary * 2)
End Sub
End Class
End Namespace
Listing 2. Sample class implementation in VB.NET

Object

Objects are the building blocks of OOP and are commonly defined as variables or
data structures that encapsulate behavior and data in a programmed unit. Objects
are items that can be individually created, manipulated, and represent real world
things in an abstract way.

Object composition

Every object is composed by:

• Object identity: Means that every object is unique and can be differentiated
from other objects. Each time and object is created (instantiated) the object
identity is defined.
• Object behavior: What the object can do. In OOP, methods work as
functions that define the set of actions that the object can do.
• Object state: The data stored within the object at any given moment. In
OOP, fields, constants, and properties define the state of an object.

Structures

Not everything in the real world should be represented as a class. Structures are
suitable to represent lightweight objects. Structures can have methods and
properties and are useful for defining types that act as user-defined primitives, but
contain arbitrary composite fields. The .NET Framework defines some structures such
as System.Drawing.Rectangle, System.Drawing.Point, and System.Drawing.Color.

The following code sample represents a structures in C#:

/// C#
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
struct Point {
private int _x;
private int _y;
Point(int x, int y){
this._x = x;
this._y = y;
}
public int X {
get {
return _x;
}
set {
_x = value;
}
}
public int Y {
get {
return _y;
}
set {
_y = value;
}
}
}
Listing 3. Sample structure implementation in C#

The following code sample represents a structure in VB.NET:


' VB.NET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Structure Point
Private _x As Integer
Private _y As Integer
Sub New(ByVal x As Integer, ByVal y As Integer)
MyBase.New
Me._x = x
Me._y = y
End Sub
Public Property X As Integer
Get
Return _x
End Get
Set
_x = value
End Set
End Property
Public Property Y As Integer
Get
Return _y
End Get
Set
_y = value
End Set
End Property
End Structure
Listing 4. Sample structure implementation in VB.NET
Conclusion

OOP is full of abstract concepts, and the best approach to understand them is
practical and not only theoretical. I learned more OOP after making some designs
and after implementing some components. The concepts presented in this article
might clarify the meaning, but I strongly recommend to go and have fun playing
around with OOP. In this article, I examined the concept of classes, objects, and
structs. The second part will examine the concepts of inheritance, abstraction, and
polymorphism.

PART 2

Summary

The following article is the second of a three-part article series that presents
definitions and samples for different Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) concepts
and its implementation in .NET. The first part examined the concepts of classes,
objects, and structures. This part examines the concepts of inheritance, abstraction,
and polymorphism. The third and last part will examine the concepts of interface,
multiple interface inheritance, collections, and overloading.

Introduction

In Part 1 of Object-Oriented Programming Concepts and .NET, I defined the concepts


of class, object, and structure. In addition to defining the concepts, I explained real
world samples and presented sample code in C# and VB.NET to create classes and
structs. The first article also explains objects as independent building blocks.

In Part 2 of Object-Oriented Programming Concepts and .NET, I will explain the


concepts of inheritance, abstraction, and polymorphism. I will also present a Unified
Model Language (UML) class diagram to represent an object model that will help as a
visual aid to explain some concepts. The purpose of this article is to explain a series
of relationships between objects.

Inheritance

In the real world there are many objects that can be specialized. In OOP, a parent
class can inherit its behavior and state to children classes. This concept was
developed to manage generalization and specialization in OOP and is represented by
a is-a relationship.

The following OO terms are commonly used names given to parent and child classes
in OOP:

• Superclass: Parent class.


• Subclass: Child class.
• Base class: Parent class.
• Derived class: Child class

The most common real world sample to explain inheritance is the geometric shapes
object model. Squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, and
octagons are geometric shapes. The following figure shows a sample set of geometric
figures:

Figure 1. Geometric shapes.


The concept of generalization in OOP means that an object encapsulates common
state an behavior for a category of objects. The general object in this sample is the
geometric shape. Most geometric shapes have area, perimeter, and color. The
concept of specialization in OOP means that an object can inherit the common state
and behavior of a generic object; however, each object needs to define its own
special and particular state an behavior. In Figure 1, each shape has its own color.
Each shape has also particular formulas to calculate its area and perimeter.

Inheritance makes code elegant and less repetitive. If we know that all shapes have
color, should we program a color attribute for each shape? The answer is no! Would it
be a better idea to create a shape class that has a color attribute and to make all the
specialized shapes to inherit the color attribute? The answer is yes!

An object model for this sample could have a shape parent class and a derived class
for each specific shape. The following UML class diagram shows the set of classes
needed to model the geometric shapes sample. Observe the field, properties, and
methods for each class:
Figure 2. The Shape class is the parent class. Square, Rectangle, and Circle are
derived classes that inherit from Shape. The triangle-connector in the diagram
represents an is-a relationship.
The .NET framework has many base classes. Everything is derived from
System.Object. You can create almost anything you imagine using the built-in
functionality provided in the .NET Framework Class Library.

To create a derived class in C#, the class declaration should be done as:
class child: parent
To create a derived class in VB.NET, the class declaration should be done as:

Class child
Inherits parent
End Class
Multiple inheritance
Multiple inheritance is the possibility that a child class can have multiple parents.
Human beings have always two parents, so a child will have characteristics from both
parents.

In OOP, multiple inheritance might become difficult to handle because it allows


ambiguity for the compiler. There are programming languages such as C++ that
allow multiple inheritance; however, other programming languages such as Java and
the .NET Framework languages do not allow multiple inheritance. Multiple inheritance
can be emulated in .NET using Multiple Interface Inheritance, which I will explain in
Part 3 of this series.

Sealed class

A sealed class is a class that does not allow inheritance. Some object model designs
need to allow the creation of new instances but not inheritance, if this is the case,
the class should be declared as sealed.

To create a sealed class in C#, the class declaration should be done as:
sealed class Shape
To create a sealed class in VB.NET, the class declaration should be done as:
NonInheritable Class Shape
Abstraction

Abstraction is "the process of identifying common patterns that have systematic


variations; an abstraction represents the common pattern and provides a means for
specifying which variation to use" (Richard Gabriel).

An abstract class is a parent class that allows inheritance but can never be
instantiated. Abstract classes contain one or more abstract methods that do not have
implementation. Abstract classes allow specialization of inherited classes.

Figure 2 shows a Shape class, which is an abstract class. In the real world, you never
calculate the area or perimeter of a generic shape, you must know what kind of
geometric shape you have because each shape (eg. square, circle, rectangle, etc.)
has its own area and perimeter formulas. The parent class shape forces all derived
classes to define the behavior for CalculateArea() and CalculatePerimeter(). Another
great example is a bank account. People own savings accounts, checking accounts,
credit accounts, investment accounts, but not generic bank accounts. In this case, a
bank account can be an abstract class and all the other specialized bank accounts
inherit from bank account.

To create an abstract class in C#, the class declaration should be done as:
abstract class Shape
To create an abstract class in VB.NET, the class declaration should be done as:
MustInherit Class Shape
To following code shows a sample implementation of an abstract class:
/// C#
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
using System;
namespace DotNetTreats.OOSE.OOPSamples{
public abstract class Shape{
private float _area;
private System.Drawing.Color _color;
private float _perimeter;
public float Area{
get{
return _area;
}
set{
_area = value;
}
}

public System.Drawing.Color Color{


get{
return _color;
}
set{
_color = value;
}
}

public float Perimeter{


get{
return _perimeter;
}
set{
_perimeter = value;
}
}

public abstract void CalculateArea();

public abstract void CalculatePerimeter();

}
}
Listing 1. The Shape abstract class in C#.
Polymorphism

Polymorphism allows objects to be represented in multiple forms. Even though


classes are derived or inherited from the same parent class, each derived class will
have its own behavior. Polymorphism is a concept linked to inheritance and assures
that derived classes have the same functions even though each derived class
performs different operations.

Figure 2 shows a Rectangle, a Circle, and Square. All of them are shapes and as
shapes their area and perimeter can be calculated; however, each shape calculates
its area in a specialized way. Declaring a member as abstract allows polymorphism.
The Shape class defines the CalculateArea() and CalculatePerimeter() methods as
abstract, this allows each derived class to override the implementation of the
parent's methods.
To following sample code shows an implementation of a derived class (rectangle).
The specific CalculateArea() and CalculatePerimeter() methods for the rectangle class
illustrate polymorphism:
/// C#
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
using System;
namespace DotNetTreats.OOSE.OOPSamples{
class Rectangle : Shape{
private float _height;
private float _width;
public rectangle(float height, float width){
_height = height;
_width = width;
}
public float Height{
get{
return _height;
}
set{
_height = value;
}
}
public float Width{
get{
return _width;
}
set{
_width = value;
}
}
public override void CalculateArea(){
this.Area = _height * _width;
}
public override void CalculatePerimeter(){
this.Perimeter = (_height * 2) + (_width * 2);
}
}
}
Listing 2. Polymorphism represented in the Rectangle's methods.

Virtual keyword

The virtual keyword allows polymorphism too. A virtual property or method has an
implementation in the base class, and can be overriden in the derived classes.

To create a virtual member in C#, use the virtual keyword:


public virtual void Draw()
To create a virtual member in VB.NET, use the Overridable keyword:
Public Overridable Function Draw()
Override keyword

Overriding is the action of modifying or replacing the implementation of the parent


class with a new one. Parent classes with virtual or abstract members allow derived
classes to override them.

To override a member in C#, use the override keyword:


public override void CalculateArea()
To override a member in VB.NET, use the Overrides keyword:
Public Overrides Function CalculateArea()
Conclusion

Inheritance allows developers to manage a generalization and specialization


relationship between objects. OOP concepts such as abstraction and polymorphism
help to define better object models where object hierarchies are designed with
reusability in mind. In this article, I examined the concept of inheritance, abstraction,
and polymorphism. The third and last part of this series will examine the concepts of
interface, multiple interface inheritance, collections, and overloading.