What Is Object-Oriented Programming?

August 31, 2022 • Shannon Flynn


Computer programming is a process of speeding up a task or action by creating a set of written instructions for running a specific sequence of commands. There are many different types of programming, but object-oriented programming (OOP) is one of the most popular.

Object-Oriented Programming Overview

OOP is a type of programming that focuses on using objects to design and build applications. Objects are small pieces of code that can be reused in different parts of a program. Each object has its own set of instructions, or methods, that tell the object what to do.

Programmers use OOP to build large and complex applications such as video games, word processors and web browsers.

OOP is different from other types of programming because it allows developers to create relationships between objects. For example, a developer can create an object that represents a car. This object can have its own methods, like turning on the engine or honking the horn. The developer can also create another object representing a driver. The driver object can have its own methods, like driving the car or filling up the gas tank.

OOP example

An object can be anything, such as a person, place, thing or idea. Each object has its own properties, or data, and its own behavior, or actions. For example, a car object might have properties like color and model and behaviors like drive and brake.

In OOP, the goal is to create objects that work together to solve a problem. To do this, you need to understand the problem, identify the objects involved and write code that creates the objects and makes them work together. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

1. Understanding the Problem

The first step in OOP is understanding what the problem is and what you need to do to solve it. For example, let’s say you want to create a program that helps people plan their vacation.

You would start by understanding what a vacation typically consists of and what tasks people need to do when planning one. Vacationers need to decide where and when they’re going, how they’re getting there, accommodations and what activities they’re going to do when they’re there.

2. Identifying the Objects

The next step is to identify the objects involved in solving the problem. In our vacation example, the objects might be the traveler, the destination, the transportation and the activities.

3. Creating the Objects

Once you’ve identified the objects, you can start writing code to create them. In OOP, this is done using a programming language like Java or C++. Each object is created using a special code called a class.

A class can have multiple properties. For example, if you were creating an object after a vacation rental car, you could assign both color and model as its properties. These properties are also known as data members or member variables. The class could also have member functions, like drive, brake or turn.

4. Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve seen how OOP works, you would put it all together to write a program — like an application or script that helps travelers plan a vacation — following these steps:

  1. Create a class for the traveler.
  2. Create a class for the vacation destination.
  3. Create a class for their method of transportation for vacation, like a flight or rental car.
  4. Create a class for possible vacation activities, like sightseeing, snorkeling or shopping.

Once you have your classes, you can write code to create objects and make them work together. Depending on the goal of your program, you could establish connections between objects like assigning the name “Jessica Miller” to the traveler and setting a specific destination like “Paris” or “Seattle, Washington” as the location.

You could then write the appropriate code to connect the traveler to their destination, then connect the traveler to a line of object code for each vacation activity they’re planning.

The Benefits of Object-Oriented Programming

There are many benefits to using object-oriented programming:

  • It makes it easy to reuse code: If a developer wants to use the same code in multiple places, they can simply copy and paste the code into each location This saves time and effort.
  • It simplifies adding new features to applications: If a developer wants to add a new feature, they just create a new object and add it to the application.
  • It helps developers find and fix errors in their code: When an error occurs in one object, it is usually isolated from other objects. This makes it easier for developers to find and fix the error without affecting the rest of the code.

Disadvantages of Object-Oriented Programming

OOP has some disadvantages too:

  • It can be challenging to interpret: Object-oriented code can be more difficult to read and understand because OOP often contains a lot of objects and relationships between those objects.
  • It can be difficult to debug: When an error occurs, it can be tricky to figure out which object is causing the problem.
  • It can be expensive: OOP can be more expensive than other programming types because it requires more time and effort to design and build applications.

Even with these disadvantages, OOP is still one of the most popular programming types because the benefits usually outweigh the disadvantages for many developers.

Interested in Learning More About Object-Oriented Programming?

There are plenty of resources available online if you want to dig deeper into OOP. With some time and effort, you will be writing your own object-oriented code in no time. Happy coding!