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Chapter 11
MORE VIRTUAL FUNCTIONS

This chapter will actually be a continuation of the topics covered
in the last chapter but this will be a fuller explanation of what
virtual functions are and how they can be used in a program. We
will present a simple database program with a virtual function to
show how it can be used, then we will go on to illustrate a more
complex use of the virtual function in a manner that finally
illustrates its utility and reason for existence.


HOW TO START AN OOP PROJECT
_________________________________________________________________

The observant student will notice that we begin our use of object
oriented programming by identifying an object, or in this case a
class of objects and even some subordinate objects, which we
completely define. When we get to the main program we then have
a simple job with the remaining needs and they are completed using
standard procedural programming techniques which we are familiar
with. This is the way to begin any object oriented programming
project, by first identifying a few objects that can be separated
conveniently from the rest of the code, programming them, then
writing the main program. It should be added that, for your first
project using objects, do not try to make everything an object.
Select a few objects and after gaining experience with object
oriented programming techniques, use more objects on future
projects. Most programmers use too many objects for their first
project and write very obtuse, unreadable code.


THE PERSON HEADER FILE
_________________________________________________________________

Examine the file named PERSON.HPP for the ================
definition file for the person class. This PERSON.HPP
class definition should cause you no problem to ================
understand since there is nothing new here. The
only thing that should be mentioned about this
class is that the protected mode is used for the variables so that
they are readily available in the subclasses which will import this
class.


THE PERSON IMPLEMENTATION
_________________________________________________________________

The implementation for the person class is given ================
here and it is a little strange in the way it is PERSON.CPP
written and used. The intent of this program is ================
that the virtual method named display() in this
file will never be used, but it is required by

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the C++ compiler to be used for a default in case some of the
subclasses do not have this function available. In the main
program we will be careful to never call this function due to the
nature of the program we are writing. Keep in mind that C++
requires an implementation of all virtual functions even if they
are never used. In this case the message is obviously intended to
be output as an error message.

Be sure to compile this program prior to going on to the next class
definitions.


THE SUPERVISOR HEADER
_________________________________________________________________

The file named SUPERVSR.HPP contains the class ================
definitions for the three derived classes, SUPERVSR.HPP
supervisor, programmer, and secretary. These ================
were all placed in a single file for two
reasons. The first reason is to simply
illustrate to you that this can be done, and secondly, to allow
some of the files to be combined on the disk and to require fewer
compilations by you prior to executing the resulting program. This
is actually a good way to combine these files since they are all
subclasses of a common class. It is actually a matter of style or
personal taste.

You will notice that all three of these classes contain a method
named display() and all have the same return value of void, and all
have the same number of parameters as the parent class's method of
the same name. All of this equality is required because they are
all actually called by the same call statement. You will also
notice that the other method in each class has the same name, but
different numbers and types of formal parameters which prevents
this method from being used as a virtual method.

The remainder of this file is simple and you should be able to read
the code and understand it completely. Once again, this file
cannot be compiled or executed.


THE SUPERVISOR IMPLEMENTATION
_________________________________________________________________

The file named SUPERVSR.CPP contains the ================
implementation for the three classes. If you SUPERVSR.CPP
spend a little time studying the code, you will ================
find that each of the methods named init_data()
simply initializes all fields to those passed in
as the actual arguments in a very simple manner.

The method named display(), however, outputs the stored data in
different ways for each class since the data is so different in
each of the classes. Even though the interface to these three

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methods is identical, the actual code is significantly different.
There is no reason code besides output could not have been used,
but the output is so visible when the program is executed that it
was chosen for this illustration.

This file should be compiled at this time in preparation for the
next example program which will use all four classes as defined in
these four files.


THE FIRST CALLING PROGRAM
_________________________________________________________________

The file named EMPLOYEE.CPP is the first program ================
that uses the classes developed in this chapter, EMPLOYEE.CPP
and you will find that it is a very simple ================
program.

We begin with an array of ten pointers, each pointing to the parent
class. As you recall from the last chapter, this is very important
when using virtual functions, the pointer must point to the parent
class. The pointers that will be stored in this array will all
point to objects of the subclasses however. When we use the
resulting pointers to refer to the methods, the system will choose
the method at run time, not at compile time as nearly all of our
other programs have been doing.

We allocate six objects in lines 16 through 39, initialize them to
some values using the methods named init_data(), then assign the
pointers to the members of the array of pointers to person.
Finally, in lines 41 and 42, we call the methods named display()
to display the stored data on the monitor. You will notice that
even though we only use one method call in line 42, we actually
send messages to each of the three methods named display() in the
subclasses. This is true dynamic binding because if we were to
change the values of some of the pointers in the array, we would
then call different methods with the same pointers.

Be sure to compile and execute this program before continuing on
in this chapter. You will recall that the linking step requires
you to combine several files in order to satisfy all system calls.
After you have done that, we will use the same objects in another
way to show how they can be reused.


THE LINKED LIST CLASS
_________________________________________________________________

Examination of the file named ELEMLIST.HPP will ================
reveal the definition of two more classes which ELEMLIST.HPP
will be used to build a linked list of employees ================
to illustrate a more practical way to use the
dynamic binding we have been studying in this
chapter.

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The two classes were put in the same file because they work
together so closely and neither is of much value without the other.
You will notice that the elements of the linked list do not contain
any data, only a pointer to the person class that we developed for
the last program, so that the linked list will be composed of
elements of the person class without modifying the class itself.

There are two interesting constructs used here that must be pointed
out before going on to the next program. The first is the partial
declaration given in line 8 which allows us to refer to the class
named employee_list before we actually define it. The complete
declaration for the class is given in lines 22 through 29. The
second construct of interest is the friend class listed in line 17
where we give the entire class named employee_list free access to
the variables which are a part of the employee_element class. This
is necessary because the method named add_person() must access the
pointers contained in employee_element. We could have defined an
additional method as a part of employee_element and used this
method to refer to the pointers but it was felt that these two
classes work so well together that it is not a problem to open a
window between the classes. We still have complete privacy from
all other programs and classes declared as parts of this program.

Note that the single method included in the employee_element class
is implemented in inline code. Two of the methods of employee_list
are still open so we need an implementation for this class.


THE LINKED LIST IMPLEMENTATION
_________________________________________________________________

The file named ELEMLIST.CPP is the ================
implementation for the linked list classes and ELEMLIST.CPP
should be self explanatory if you understand how ================
a singly linked list operates. All new elements
are added to the end of the current list. This
was done to keep it simple but a sorting mechanism could be added
to sort the employees by name if desired.

The method to display the list simply traverses the list and calls
the method named display() in line 30 once for each element of the
list.

It is important for you to take notice that in this entire class,
there is no mention made of the existence of the three derived
classes, only the parent class named person is mentioned. The
linked list therefore has no hint that the three subclasses even
exist, but in spite of that, we will see this class send messages
to the three subclasses as they are passed through this logic.
That is exactly what dynamic binding is, and we will have a little
more to say about it after we examine the calling program.



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THE LINKED LIST IMPLEMENTATION
_________________________________________________________________

At this time you should examine the final ================
example program in this chapter named EMPLOYE2.CPP
EMPLOYE2.CPP for our best example of dynamic ================
binding in this tutorial, yet the program is
kept very simple.

This program is very similar to the example program named
EMPLOYEE.CPP with a few changes to better illustrate dynamic
binding. In line 7 we declare an object of the class employee_list
to begin our linked list. This is the only copy of the list we
will need for this program. For each of the elements, we allocate
the data, fill it, and send it to the linked list to be added to
the list where we allocate another linked list element to point to
the new data, and add it to the list. The code is very similar to
the last program down through line 40.

In line 43 we send a message to the display_list() method which
outputs the entire list of personnel. You will notice that the
linked list class defined in the files named ELEMLIST.HPP and
ELEMLIST.CPP are never informed in any way that the subclasses even
exist but they dutifully pass the pointers to these subclasses to
the correct methods and the program runs as expected.


WHAT GOOD IS ALL OF THIS
_________________________________________________________________

Now that we have the program completely debugged and working,
suppose that we wished to add another class to the program, for
example a class named consultant because we wished to include some
consultants in our business. We would have to write the class of
course and the methods within the classes, but the linked list
doesn't need to know that the new class is added, so it does not
require any changes in order to update the program to handle
consultant class objects. In this particular case, the linked list
is very small and easy to understand, but suppose the code was very
long and complex as with a large database. It would be very
difficult to update every reference to the subclasses and add
another subclass to every list where they were referred to, and
this operation would be very error prone. In the present example
program, the linked list would not even have to be recompiled in
order to add the new functionality.

It should be clear to you that it would be possible to actually
define new types, dynamically allocate them, and begin using them
even while the program was executing if we properly partitioned the
code into executable units operating in parallel. This would not
be easy, but it could be done for a large database that was
tracking the inventory for a large retail store, or even for an
airlines reservation system. You probably have little difficulty
understanding the use of dynamically allocated memory for data, but

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dynamically allocating classes or types is new and difficult to
grasp, but the possibility is there with dynamic binding.


PROGRAMMING EXERCISES
_________________________________________________________________


1. Add a new class named consultant to the files named
SUPERVSR.HPP and SUPERVSR.CPP, then add code to EMPLOYE2.CPP
to exercise the new class. Note that you do not need to
recompile the linked list class in order to execute the new
code and use the new class. Even without recompiling the
linked list class it is capable of storing and passing the new
class of data provided of course that the new class is
referred to using a pointer to the parent class.







































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  3 Responses to “Category : C Source Code
Archive   : CPTUTOR1.ZIP
Filename : CHAP11.TXT

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