Java is a computer programming language that is concurrent, class-based and object-oriented. The advantages of object-oriented software development are shown below:
- Modular development of code, which leads to easy maintenance and modification.
- Reusability of code.
- Improved reliability and flexibility of code.
- Increased understanding of code.
Object-oriented programming contains many significant features, such as encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, and abstraction. We analyze each feature separately in the following sections.
Encapsulation provides objects with the ability to hide their internal characteristics and behavior. Each object provides a number of methods, which can be accessed by other objects and change its internal data. In Java, there are three access modifiers: public, private and protected. Each modifier imposes different access rights to other classes, either in the same or in external packages. Some of the advantages of using encapsulation are listed below:
- The internal state of every objected is protected by hiding its attributes.
- It increases usability and maintenance of code because the behavior of an object can be independently changed or extended.
- It improves modularity by preventing objects to interact with each other, in a undesired way.
Polymorphism is the ability of programming languages to present the same interface for differing underlying data types. A polymorphic type is a type whose operations can also be applied to values of some other type.
Inheritance provides an object with the ability to acquire the fields and methods of another class, called base class. Inheritance provides re-usability of code and can be used to add additional features to an existing class, without modifying it.
Abstraction is the process of separating ideas from specific instances and thus, develop classes in terms of their own functionality, instead of their implementation details. Java supports the creation and existence of abstract classes that expose interfaces, without including the actual implementation of all methods. The abstraction technique aims to separate the implementation details of a class from its behavior.
Differences between Abstraction and Encapsulation
Abstraction and encapsulation are complementary concepts. On the one hand, abstraction focuses on the behavior of an object. On the other hand, encapsulation focuses on the implementation of an object’s behavior. Encapsulation is usually achieved by hiding information about the internal state of an object and thus, can be seen as a strategy used in order to provide abstraction.