3.6: Two Good Ideas to Keep in Mind
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What we do want to focus on in C++ are two concepts: 1) Abstraction; and 2) Reuse. These are 2 concepts that we want to get in the habit of thinking about BEFORE we start writing code. You may have to do some searching, "Does C++ provide a way to calculate the square root of a number?" - you would find that yes it does, and therefore you do not have to write the code to determine a square root. As we learn more about object oriented programming, we will get better at the abstraction piece of this.
Abstraction means displaying only essential information and hiding the details. Data abstraction refers to providing only essential information about the data to the outside world, hiding the background details or implementation.
Consider a real life example of a man driving a car. The man only knows that pressing the accelerators will increase the speed of car or applying brakes will stop the car but he does not know about how on pressing accelerator the speed is actually increasing, he does not know about the inner mechanism of the car or the implementation of accelerator, brakes etc in the car. This is what abstraction is.
Abstraction using Classes: We can implement Abstraction in C++ using classes. Class helps us to group data members and member functions using available access specifiers. A Class can decide which data member will be visible to outside world and which is not.
Abstraction in Header files: One more type of abstraction in C++ can be header files. For example, consider the pow() method present in math.h header file. Whenever we need to calculate power of a number, we simply call the function pow() present in the math.h header file and pass the numbers as arguments without knowing the underlying algorithm according to which the function is actually calculating power of numbers.
Access specifiers are the main pillar of implementing abstraction in C++. We can use access specifiers to enforce restrictions on class members. For example:
- Members declared as public in a class, can be accessed from anywhere in the program.
- Members declared as private in a class, can be accessed only from within the class. They are not allowed to be accessed from any part of code outside the class.
Advantages of Data Abstraction:
- Helps the user to avoid writing the low level code
- Avoids code duplication and increases reusability.
- Can change internal implementation of class independently without affecting the user.
- Helps to increase security of an application or program as only important details are provided to the user.
Code reuse aims to save time and resources and reduce redundancy by taking advantage of assets that have already been created in some form within the software product development process. The key idea in reuse is that parts of a computer program written at one time can be or should be used in the construction of other programs written at a later time.
Code reuse may imply the creation of a separately maintained version of the reusable assets. While code is the most common resource selected for reuse, other assets generated during the development cycle may offer opportunities for reuse: software components, test suites, designs, documentation, and so on.
The software library is a good example of code reuse. Programmers may decide to create internal abstractions so that certain parts of their program can be reused, or may create custom libraries for their own use.
For newly written code to use a piece of existing code, some kind of interface, or means of communication, must be defined. These commonly include a "call" or use of a subroutine, object, class, or prototype. In organizations, such practices are formalized and standardized by domain engineering, also known as software product line engineering.
The general practice of using a prior version of an extant program as a starting point for the next version, is also a form of code reuse.
Some so-called code "reuse" involves simply copying some or all of the code from an existing program into a new one. While organizations can realize time to market benefits for a new product with this approach, they can subsequently be saddled with many of the same code duplication problems caused by cut and paste programming.
Many researchers have worked to make reuse faster, easier, more systematic, and an integral part of the normal process of programming. These are some of the main goals behind the invention of object-oriented programming, which became one of the most common forms of formalized reuse. A somewhat later invention is generic programming.
Another, newer means is to use software "generators", programs which can create new programs of a certain type, based on a set of parameters that users choose.
Adapted from: "Abstraction in C++" by Harsh Agarwal, Geeks for Geeks
and: "Code reuse" by Various contributors, Wikipedia