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Three Distinguishing Features of an Object-Oriented Programming Language

We've now defined all three of the features required to make a language truly object-oriented:

By way of review, let's summarize the benefits of each of these three language features.

Programmer creation of user-defined types




A common misconception, held by many, is that switching from a non-OO to an OO programming language will dramatically speed up the development time of a given application. Anecdotes abound of managers who have expected that a team utilizing OO approaches should be able to craft an application in a fraction of the time that it would have taken them to build its non-OO counterpart—despite the fact that team in question might be utilizing object-oriented techniques for the first time ever!

Unfortunately, due to the learning curve involved in switching to the OO paradigm—particularly for software developers who've been entrenched in non-OOPL techniques for many years—it actually can take longer for a team to build its first OO application.

Where economies of scale do come into play, however, is during the maintenance stage of an application's life cycle. The maintenance stage of an application—OO or otherwise—is typically much longer/more costly than the development stage, and so by dramatically reducing ripple effects through the thoughtful use of encapsulation/information hiding and inheritance/overriding/polymorphism, we stand to reduce maintenance costs significantly.

Once we've become adept with the OO paradigm, we should indeed be able to shorten application development time, as well, by virtue of the fact that through reuse via inheritance, we'll have less code to write overall. And, in transitioning from one project to the next, if we embrace the philosophy of code sharing and reuse across projects, we can gain significant productivity during the development stage of the life cycle.

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