Java #15 - Creating a Class

Uploaded by carlislemc on 19.06.2009

Java is an object-oriented language.
Object-oriented means that you program by thinking about
and describing the things,
or objects that your program will model—that is, the data,
instead of thinking in a process-oriented way.
Java programs consist of a collection of classes,
or blueprints, from which we create objects.
The class describes the characteristics (called attributes)
and behaviors (called methods) of the object.
Generally, attributes correspond to nouns object.
or adjectives that give more information about the object
(location, size, color, amount, et cetera).
Attributes are like variables associated with the object.
Methods correspond to verbs—things the object knows how to do.
Examples might be moving, or setting the color,
or creating a String describing the object.
Just having a blueprint doesn’t give you a building.
You have to create the building.
And, you can make multiple buildings from the same blueprint.
It’s the same with objects.
You don’t have an object until you make a new one.
Here we see that we are creating two objects
p1 and p2 which are of the class Point.
The class Point has attributes x and y, the location of the Point.
Note that p1 and p2 will have different values for these.
In the same way, if you built two buildings from the same blueprint,
you might paint one blue and the other brown.
To illustrate, we’ll create a small class for Bank Accounts.
First, we think about the attributes and methods we might want to have,
then we’ll write some code.
For simplicity, we’ll say a bank account only has an owner
and a balance.
(You might think about account types, or account numbers,
or all sorts of other things, but we’ll keep it simple).
The account will allow you to either deposit money, withdraw money,
or check the balance.
We start by declaring the attributes belonging to this class,
owner and balance.
This is like declaring variables in a method,
but note the addition of “private” at the front.
This means that these will not be visible outside the class.
Instead, other classes must use methods to access or change these.
At first, it seems like this makes you write
more code and is less convenient.
For very small programs, that’s probably true,
but it does make it easier to change the code later in larger programs.
Suppose our bank creates a new program where they
send you a text message whenever your balance gets low.
If we made balance a public attribute, we might have
to search many different files to look for balance changes.
By making it private, we know that all changes occur in this
one file and we can simply add code here for the new feature.
Below the attributes we have a constructor method.
Remember we don’t actually have any objects until we call a constructor.
Constructor methods don’t have a return type,
and are named the same as the class.
This one simply copies the owner value passed in to the attribute owner,
and sets the balance to 0.
Note we refer to the owner attribute as “this dot owner”.
“This” is an implicit parameter, which is the object on which
the method was called, or, in this case, the object being constructed.
Many Java programmers omit the use of this,
but I find it makes the code more readable,
and, if you have a sophisticated development environment,
it will suggest things for you after you type “this dot”,
which makes the typing a lot faster and less error-prone.
Next we have a couple simple methods that just return
the values of the owner and balance attributes.
After this, we have methods to deposit or withdraw money.
Since it doesn’t make sense to deposit a negative amount,
we throw an exception if the parameter amount is negative;
otherwise, we simply add it to the balance.
Similarly in withdraw, it is an error to attempt to withdraw a negative amount,
or an amount which exceeds the current account balance.
It’s always a good idea to check
and make sure parameters to a method match any assumptions that you have,
especially when you are working with other programmers.
Finally, we have a short method that returns a string
containing the account owner and balance.
Now let’s look at a main program that uses this class.
In DemoBankAccount, we create two bank account variables,
account one and account two.
At this point, there aren’t any bank accounts yet—we
have to call “new” for that.
We call the constructor to create an account for “Martin Carlisle”,
then deposit fifty dollars.
Then, we construct an account for Mickey Mouse
and add one hundred thousand dollars (he is a bit richer after all!)
Next we make withdrawals from each account
and print the results of calling toString on each account.
Note that each account had its own owner and balance,
even though they were created from the same blueprint, BankAccount.