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In object-oriented programming, a class is an extensible program-code-template for creating objects, providing initial values for state (member variables) and implementations of behavior (member functions or methods). In many languages, the class name is used as the name for the class (the template itself), the name for the default constructor of the class (a subroutine that creates objects), and as the type of objects generated by instantiating the class; these distinct concepts are easily conflated.
When an object is created by a constructor of the class, the resulting object is called an instance of the class, and the member variables specific to the object are called instance variables, to contrast with the class variables shared across the class.
In some languages, classes are only a compile-time feature (new classes cannot be declared at runtime), while in other languages classes are first-class citizens, and are generally themselves objects (typically of type Class or similar). In these languages, a class that creates classes is called a metaclass.
Benefits of Class
The benefits of organizing software into object classes fall into three categories:
- Rapid development
- Ease of maintenance
- Reuse of code and designs
Object classes facilitate rapid development because they lessen the semantic gap between the code and the users. System analysts can talk to both developers and users using essentially the same vocabulary, talking about accounts, customers, bills, etc. Object classes often facilitate rapid development because most object-oriented environments come with powerful debugging and testing tools. Instances of classes can be inspected at run time to verify that the system is performing as expected. Also, rather than get dumps of core memory, most object-oriented environments have interpreted debugging capabilities so that the developer can analyze exactly where in the program the error occurred and can see which methods were called to which arguments and with what arguments.
Object classes facilitate ease of maintenance via encapsulation. When developers need to change the behavior of an object they can localize the change to just that object and its component parts. This reduces the potential for unwanted side effects from maintenance enhancements.
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