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Syntactic Confectionery Delight

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Abigail-II will be better able to comment than myself, but I've been playing around with her technique on-and-off since I discovered it on perlmonks. While I've not been doing it in anger, it's not been entirely in jest either. I've been re-writing some Test::Class hierarchies that were fairly deep, and hence possible sources for hash key clashes.

In general I've not had problems. It's a very nice hack to get around perl's lack of object attribute encapsulation. I'll probably use the technique in the next production project I do.

Abigail-II - have you considered writing a little tutorial on the subject? :-)

Issues that can cause problems:

  • You have to take overloading the "" operator into account. Since the attribute objects are indexed by "$self", you have to use overload::StrVal something like this:

    package Foo; use strict; use warnings; use overload; my %foo = (); sub new { my $class = shift; bless [], $class; }; sub foo { my $self = overload::StrVal shift; $foo{$self} = @_ if @_; $foo{$self}; }; sub DESTROY { my $self = overload::StrVal shift; delete $foo{$self}; };

    if there is any chance that somebody will write a sub-class that overrides "", for example:

    package Foo::Pretty; use base qw(Foo); use overload q{""} => sub { my $self = shift; my $foo = defined($self->foo) ? $self->foo : 'unde +f'; "<foo=$foo>"; }, ;
  • Having to remember to add/remove attribute hashes from the DESTROY method can be a pain. I tend to move attributes around classes a fair bit during refactoring. Forget to add an appropriate delete line to the DESTROY method and you suddenly have a nasty little memory leak. I've had this happen to me more often in the few weeks I've been playing with this technique than I've had hash/method name clashes in the several years I've been writing OO perl - but that may be lack of practice :-)

  • Object serialisation and other reflective acts become harder. No more quick'n'dirty throwing your object at Storable to serialise your object. No more throwing your object at Data::Dumper to get a snapshot of its state. This could be considered a feature depending on your point of view.

  • I've not had the chance to try teaching this method to perl/OO novices. My hunch is that it will turn out harder than hashes. Perl novices are already used to stuffing stuff in hashes, so it's a natural progression. OO novices latch onto the idea that an object is a "thing". My guess is that a single "thing" spread over several hashes goes against the naive concept of what an object is, and will therefore be harder to teach.

  • Having to list all of the attributes in the DESTROY method, as well as declare them at the top offends my sense of once and only once.

In reply to Re^3: Tutorial: Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming by adrianh
in thread Tutorial: Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming by jreades

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