I am reading the first chapter of the Gof book. Section 1.6 discusses about class vs interface inheritance:
Class versus Interface Inheritance
It's important to understand the difference between an object's class and its type. An object's class defines how the object is implemented.The class defines the object's internal state and the implementation of its operations.In contrast,an object's type only refers to its interface--the set of requests on which it can respond. An object can have many types, and objects of different classes can have the same type.
Of course, there's a close relationship between class and type. Because a class defines the operations an object can perform, it also defines the object's type . When we say that an object is an instance of a class, we imply that the object supports the interface defined by the class.
Languages like c++ and Eiffel use classes to specify both an object's type and its implementation. Smalltalk programs do not declare the types of variables; consequently,the compiler does not check that the types of objects assigned to a variable are subtypes of the variable's type. Sending a message requires checking that the class of the receiver implements the message, but it doesn't require checking that the receiver is an instance of a particular class.
It's also important to understand the difference between class inheritance and interface inheritance (or subtyping). Class inheritance defines an object's implementation in terms of another object's implementation. In short, it's a mechanism for code and representation sharing. In contrast,interface inheritance(or subtyping) describes when an object can be used in place of another.
This is how I think of of these concepts in Java:
In Java a class is always a blueprint for the objects it produces and what interface(as in "set of all possible requests that the object can respond to") an object of that class possess is defined during compilation stage only because the class of the object would have implemented those interfaces. The requests that an object of that class can respond to is the set of all the methods that are in the class(including those implemented for the interfaces that this class implements).
My specific questions are:
- Am I right in saying that Java's way is more similar to C++ as described in the third paragraph.
- I do not understand what is meant by interface inheritance in the last paragraph. In Java interface inheritance is one interface extending from another interface. But I think the word interface has some other overloaded meaning here. Can some one provide an example in Java of what is meant by interface inheritance here so that I understand it better?