Chapter 8. Classes and Objects

Chapter 5 discusses the intrinsic types, built into the C# language. As you may recall, these simple types allow you to hold and manipulate numeric values and strings. The true power of C#, however, lies in its capacity to let the programmer define new types to suit particular problems. It is this ability to create new types that characterizes an object-oriented language. You specify new types in C# by declaring and defining classes.

Particular instances of a class are called objects. The difference between a class and an object is the same as the difference between the concept of a Dog and the particular dog who is sitting at your feet as you read this. You can’t play fetch with the definition of a Dog, only with an instance.

A Dog class describes what dogs are like; they have weight, height, eye color, hair color, disposition, and so forth. They also have actions they can take, such as eat, walk, bark, and sleep. A particular dog (such as my dog Milo) will have a specific weight (62 pounds), height (22 inches), eye color (black), hair color (yellow), disposition (angelic), and so forth. He is capable of all the actions — methods, in programming parlance — of any dog (though if you knew him you might imagine that eating is the only method he implements).

The huge advantage of classes in object-oriented programming is that classes encapsulate the characteristics and capabilities of a type in a single, self-contained unit.

Suppose, for instance, you ...

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