Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mindless Ranting

When I talk about calling a function on an object, I use the word "method." I have no idea where it all started - probably those 4 gangtas started it. Those ghetto kids, always coming up with the crazy patois. What, plain english ain't good enough for 'em? Isn't it such a weird term though? Saying you're calling a function on a particular object seems clear enough. The term function has been around since the dawn of programming, so everyone knows what it means. Sure, it's not very OO, and someone - heaven forbid! - might think you're not all down with the objects. In that case, I am ok with "message." You send a message to a particular object. That's the smalltalk lingo, and it makes a certain amount of reasonable sense. It emphasizes the behaviour of objects over the idea of calling a function which manipulates data. Plus is has that OO cachet. When you talk about sending the hello_world message the person object, no one can look down on you as if you were some grubby C programmer, or worse, PHP! In a conversation with a coworker today, the only explanation I came up with was that if you were relying on polymorphism (whoa, I am not even going to get into that mouthful today!) to do the right thing, then the particular method of implementation of a given interface would depend on the subclass. So if you said the method of execution of a message on a particular object depends on the subclass, I wouldn't complain. It's long winded, but hey, it's ok. But if that's the idea, then what's "calling a method" all about? It just makes no sense to me! If that's the terminology you're going to use, well, just say "function." If you've made it this far, I'm impressed! :) Well, I don't know abou you, but I do feel better! And hey, if you're using "method" all over the place, don't feel too bad. When it comes down to it, so do I. As long as we're all drinking the coolaid together, it's all good.

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