Object Oriented Programming Overview
The concepts of Object-Oriented (OO) programming have been around for over four decades. Initially developed in the field of artificial intelligence, OO programming was embraced by Xerox as a means of developing systems that better reflected real life needs and were more user friendly. OO’s popularity and sophistication has increased in the past several years as businesses are abandoning their mainframe systems and incorporating more client-server models to run their businesses and are integrating web technology as a business tool. A change in the overall pace of business has also contributed to the increased popularity of OO programming. One of the primary features of OO programming is its relative flexibility and adaptability to changing business needs.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Object-oriented programming has roots that can be traced to the 1960s. As hardware and software became increasingly complex, quality was often compromised. Researchers studied ways to maintain software quality and developed object-oriented programming in part to address common problems by strongly emphasizing discrete, reusable units of programming logic. The methodology focuses on data rather than processes, with programs composed of self-sufficient modules (objects) each containing all the information needed to manipulate its own data structure. This is in contrast to the existing modular programming which had been dominant for many years that focused on the function of a module, rather than specifically the data, but equally provided for code reuse, and self-sufficient reusable units of programming logic, enabling collaboration through the use of linked modules (subroutines). This more conventional approach, which still persists, tends to consider data and behavior separately.
An object-oriented program may thus be viewed as a collection of cooperating objects, as opposed to the conventional model, in which a program is seen as a list of tasks (subroutines) to perform. In OOP, each object is capable of receiving messages, processing data, and sending messages to other objects and can be viewed as an independent 'machine' with a distinct role or responsibility. The actions (or "operators") on these objects are closely associated with the object. For example, the data structures tend to carry their own operators around with them (or at least "inherit" them from a similar object or class).
The Simula programming language was the first to introduce the concepts underlying object-oriented programming (objects, classes, subclasses, virtual methods, coroutines, garbage collection, and discrete event simulation) as a superset of Algol. Simula was used for physical modeling, such as models to study and improve the movement of ships and their content through cargo ports. Smalltalk was the first programming language to be called "object-oriented".