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Frameworks and Reuse in the Object-Oriented Process: Designing with Interfaces and Abstract Classes

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This chapter expands on the themes of inheritance and composition and their role in the design of object-oriented systems and introduces the concepts of a Java interface and an abstract class.

Chapter 7, "Mastering Inheritance and Composition," explains how inheritance and composition play major roles in the design of object-oriented (OO) systems. This chapter expands on this theme and introduces the concepts of a Java interface and an abstract class.

Java interfaces and abstract classes are a powerful mechanism for code reuse, providing the foundation for a concept I call contracts. This chapter covers the topics of code reuse, frameworks, contracts, Java interfaces, and abstract classes. At the end of the chapter, we'll work through an example of how all these concepts can be applied to a real-world situation.

Code: To Reuse or Not to Reuse?

You have been dealing with the issue of code reuse since you took your first programming class or wrote your first line of code. Many software development paradigms have code reuse as a major component. Since the dawn of computer software, the concept of reusing code has been reinvented several times. The OO paradigm is no different. One of the major advantages touted by OO proponents is that if you write code properly the first time, you can reuse it to your heart's content.

This is only true to a certain degree. As with all design approaches, the utility and the reusability of code depends on how well it was designed and implemented. OO design does not hold the patent on code reuse. There is nothing stopping anyone from writing very robust and reusable code in a non–OO language. Certainly, there are countless numbers of routines and functions, written in structured languages such as COBOL C and traditional VB, that are of high quality and quite reusable.

Thus, it is clear that following the OO paradigm is not the only way to develop reusable code. However, the OO approach does provide several mechanisms for facilitating the development of reusable code. One way to create reusable code is to create frameworks. In this chapter, we focus on using interfaces and abstract classes to create frameworks and encourage reusable code.

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