What is Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

OOP, the acronym for object-oriented programming, it is a language paradigm that uses data rather than logic to run a program. In this system, objects are defined on the basis of data blocks, which are attributes that strictly define the object. The object can be further divided into sub-classes, again based on the presence of certain points of data which define those sub-classes. Java, C++, and Ruby are some of the most commonly used object-oriented languages today and their applications are numerous.

Object-oriented programming has a long history, with OOPSLA, the Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages, and Applications Conference, holding its first meeting in Portland, Oregon in 1986. Although development on object-oriented programming began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that OOP systems began to gain the popularity they enjoy today. In particular, the release of Java by Sun Microsystems in 1995 did a lot to spark consumer interest in object-oriented programming systems.

Object-oriented programming differs from logic-based programming languages in that the flow of action is not as important to the program’s methodology as the data itself, which is used to define the objects around which the program is structured. A good example that is often quoted to explain object-oriented programming is its use in online shopping websites. A dress is an object, defined by certain data parameters. That object might be further classified into other sub-groups of data or sub-objects, such as yellow dresses – all of the objects brought up by such a search would have to possess a set of well-defined data attributes that can be ascribed solely to yellow dresses.

Object-oriented programming has a number of advantages for the programmer.

  • To begin with, because the definition of an object or subclass of an object is so discrete and finite, there is very little possibility of unrelated parts of the code acting upon each other in error.
  • As the language is based on objects and each object and its sub-class is defined by specific data attributes, only those points of data that fall into a given configuration can be used in a specified part of the code.
  • Another advantage is that the definition of a data set is a relatively easy process. In order to alter the parameters of a program, all that needs to be done is to define and add a new data set to the program.
  • In a logic based programming model, the remedy would involve writing a whole, often complicated sections of new code.

Object-oriented programming languages also define a class in a comparable way to each other, so languages such as Java are ideal for use in network applications. Indeed, Java can run on numerous platforms without needing any program reconfigurations and is one of the most popularly used programming languages in the world today. Other object-oriented programming languages such as Python represent newer developments in the field of object-oriented programming, with more programmers turning to OOP for its ease of compatibility and versatility. Languages that pre-date OOP such as Basic, Pascal, COBOL, and FORTRAN, have all added object-oriented programming components to their language systems as well, giving programmers today a wide field to choose from.