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Chapter 7: Inheritance Tutorial (Windows & OS/2)

This tutorial is intended to demonstrate how inheritance works in Object COBOL. It uses the example of different types of bank account, and shows how they can inherit common behavior from a single class, while adding new behavior or changing as necessary for individual types of account.

This tutorial consists of the following sessions:

  1. The Account Classes

  2. Some Simple Account Transactions

Time to complete: 25 minutes

7.1 The Account Classes

This topic introduces the Account classes used in this tutorial. We will use the Class Browser to explore the code in these classes, before animating it in the second session of this tutorial.

>>To start the Browser with the account classes

  1. Start the icon labeled Inheritance in the COBOL Workbench Tutorials group.

    This starts the on-line tutorial Inheritance.

  2. Select the hotspot labeled Browse account classes (you will need to double-click or press Enter on OS/2), below the heading Using This Tutorial.

    This starts the Class Browser and loads the account classes.

  3. The Class Browser appears showing the Class Hierarchy view.

    You can see that there are four types of account class:





    The hierarchy view shows that the Account class is the superclass of all other account types. Account is an abstract class which implements the behavior common to all the different types of bank account.

  4. Select Account from the class/program selector.

    Account has one class method, "openAccount", and several instance methods. These include methods for all the things you would expect to be able to do with a bank account, like "deposit" and "withdraw".

  5. Select SavingsAccount from the class/program selector.

    The SavingsAccount class implements far fewer methods than Account. It has no method for opening accounts, depositing or withdrawing money. It inherits all the code for these methods from Account. It does have a method to add interest, because this is not behavior common to all types of account.

    It also has an implementation of "printStatement". All the account classes have their own implementation of "printStatement", because every different type of account prints a different type of statement.

    This is an example of polymorphism.

In the next session, you will use the Bank program to see how inheritance works in these classes. This is a simple program which creates accounts and sends messages to them.

7.2 Simple Account Transactions

In this session you will animate bank1.cbl, to see some simple account transactions and how inheritance works in practice. The instructions below assume that you are continuing directly from the previous section and still have the Class Browser up and running with the account classes.

>>To animate bank1

  1. Select Check all from the COBOL menu and wait for the Checker to compile all the programs.

  2. Select Bank1 from the class/program selector.

  3. Select Animate from the COBOL menu.

    This starts Animator V2, and loads for execution. You are now in Bank1 ( The first group of statements (below tag B001) creates a new CheckAccount for a customer.

  4. Step through the first three statements.

    When you step the invoke CheckAccount, execution switches to the line below tag A001 in the Account class. CheckAccount does not implement the "openAccount" method, but inherits it from Account.

  5. Step statement invoke super "new".

    This sends the "new" message to this object, but tells the OO RTS to start looking for methods in the code for the superclass of Account (class Base). It returns an instance of CheckAccount.

  6. Step the invoke statement below tag A002.

    This takes you to the "setNextAccountNumber" method of Account.

  7. Step the first statement of this method (if nextAccountNumber = 0).

    Data item nextAccountNumber is declared with a value clause of 0. When the account class or any of its subclasses is initially loaded this data item is set to 0. The method "setNextAccountNumber" tests this value, and if it is zero, sets an initial value. This is the first time the CheckAccount class has received the "openAccount" message, so nextAccountNumber needs initializing.

  8. Step the next statement (invoke self "getFirstAccountNumber").

    Execution switches to the "getFirstAccountNumber" method of CheckAccount. In this case, self refers to the CheckAccount class object; although we were executing code implemented by the Account class, the original "openAccount" message was sent to the CheckAccount class object, which inherited its "openAccount" method from Account.

    This method returns a value for the "openAccount" method to start numbering accounts. Each of the subclasses of Account starts account numbers from a different value, and they all implement "getFirstAccountNumber" to return the starting value.

  9. Step through the code up until and including the exit method.

    This takes you back to the exit method statement of "setNextAccountNumber".

  10. Step the exit method statement.

    This returns you to the "openAccount" method.

  11. Step the next statement (invoke lsAccount "initAccount" ...).

    The object handle to the newly created account object is in lsAccount. The "initAccount" method sets the account attributes with a name, balance and account number.

  12. Step through the code up until and including the exit method.

    This takes you back to the exit method statement of "openAccount".

  13. Step the exit method statement.

    Execution returns to Bank1, which now has an object handle to an instance of the CheckAccount class.

  14. Step the two statements below tag B002.

    This deposits $1000 in the CheckAccount instance. Again, the code for this is all in the Account class.

  15. Step through the Account code until you return to the statement below tag B003 in Bank1.

  16. Step through the two statements below tag B003.

    These withdraw $50 from the CheckAccount instance. This time the invoke switches execution to code inside CheckAccount. This is because the CheckAccount class implements its own "withdraw" method, which checks the withdrawal against the value allowed for the overdraft.

  17. Step the statements below tag C010.

    If the withdrawal were to exceed the overdraft set for this instance of CheckAccount, the object would raise an exception (error condition). In this case, the withdrawal amount is OK, so execution proceeds as normal.

    The application in this case has not registered an exception handler to deal with account exceptions, so the error would get trapped at the system level which would display the error number and halt application execution.The BankApplication example used in some of the other Object COBOL tutorials also uses these account classes, but it registers an exception handler so that it can deal with this type of error.

  18. Step through the application until you reach tag B007.

    Each time you open a type of account which Bank1 hasn't used before, you have to step through the code to get an initial account number.

    As you execute the code, you will see that most of the code for the different types of bank account is inherited from the Account class, with only some methods being implemented in the subclasses. The subclasses all inherit from the Account class with data (see the class-id statements at the top of each program). This means that as well as inheriting the methods of Account, they also have direct access to the data items declared in account. All the different account types can access variables balance, aName and accountNumber.

    Without the with data clause in the class-id of the Account subclasses, they would not be able to access this data directly. Instead, they would have to send messages to the superclass (invoke super...) to access this data. The programmer of the Account class would need to implement the methods which would respond to these messages.

  19. Step the statements below B007 to open a HighRateAccount. This takes you to tag H010 of HighRateAccount.

    HighRateAccount implements its own version of "openAccount", to check the amount of cash being used to open the account. But once it has verified this, it still uses the "openAccount" method of Account, by sending a message to super.

  20. Step through the rest of the code until you get to tag B008 of Bank1.

    This code demonstrates the use of polymorphism between objects descended from a common class. All account types implement the "printStatement" method in order to print out a statement suitable for the different account types.

  21. Step through the code to print the statements.

  22. When Animator V2 displays the "Stop run encountered..." message, select Exit from the Animator V2 File menu.

  23. Select Exit from the Browser File menu.

  24. Select Exit from the on-line help File menu to close down the on-line help system.

7.3 Summary

This concludes the tutorial on inheritance. In this tutorial you learned:

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