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Advantages and Disadvantages of Object-Oriented Approach

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Benefits of Object-Oriented Approach 

Object-oriented databases make the promise of reduced maintenance, code reusability, real world modeling, and improved reliability and flexibility.  However, these are just promises and in the real world some users find that the object-oriented benefits are not as compelling as they originally believed.  For example, what is  code reusability?  Some will say that they can reuse much of the object-oriented code that is created for a system, but many say there is no more code reusability in object-oriented systems than in traditional systems.  Code reusability is a subjective thing, and depends heavily on how the system is defined.  The object-oriented approach does give the ability to reduce some of the major expenses associated with systems, such as maintenance and development of programming code.  Here are some of the benefits of the object-oriented approach:    

Reduced Maintenance:  The primary goal of object-oriented development is the assurance that the system will enjoy a longer life while having far smaller maintenance costs.  Because most of the processes within the system are encapsulated, the behaviors may be reused and incorporated into new behaviors.

Real-World Modeling:  Object-oriented system tend to model the real world in a more complete fashion than do traditional methods.  Objects are organized into classes of objects, and objects are associated with behaviors.  The model is based on objects, rather than on data and processing.

Improved Reliability and Flexibility Object-oriented system promise to be far more reliable than traditional systems, primarily because new behaviors can be "built" from existing objects. Because objects can be dynamically called and accessed, new objects may be created at any time.  The new objects may inherit data attributes from one, or many other objects.  Behaviors may be inherited from super-classes, and novel behaviors may be added without effecting existing systems functions.

High Code Reusability:  When a new object is created, it will automatically inherit the data attributes and characteristics of the class from which it was spawned.  The new object will also inherit the data and behaviors from all superclasses in which it participates.  When a user creates a new type of a widget, the new object behaves "wigitty", while having new behaviors which are defined to the system.

The downside of the Object Technology

There  are several major misconceptions which must be addressed when considering the use of an object-oriented method: 

Object-oriented Development is not a panacea - Object-oriented Development is best suited for dynamic, interactive environments, as evidenced by its widespread acceptance in CAD/CAM and engineering design systems.  Wide-scale object-oriented corporate systems are still unproved, and many bread-and-butter information systems applications (i.e. payroll, accounting), may not benefit from the object-oriented approach.

Object-oriented Development is not a technology - Although many advocates are religious in their fervor for object-oriented systems, remember that all the "HOOPLA" is directed at the object-oriented approach to problem solving, and not to any specific technology. 

Object-oriented Development is not yet completely accepted by major vendors - Object-oriented Development has gained some market respectability, and vendors have gone from catering to a "lunatic fringe" to a respected market.  Still, there are major reservations as to whether  Object-oriented development will become a major force, or fade into history, as in the 1980's when Decision Support Systems made great promises, only to fade into obscurity. 

Cannot find qualified programmers and DBA's

When one investigates the general acceptance of object-oriented systems in the commercial marketplace, you generally find that most managers would like to see an object technology approach, but they do not have the time to train their staffs in object-oriented methods.  Other will say that the object-oriented method is only for graphical workstation systems, and that there is no pressing need for object-oriented system within mainstream business systems. 

Even though commercial object-oriented programming languages have been on the market for several years, systems written with object-oriented languages comprise less than 1% of systems today.

Once a major vendor begins conforming to a standard, it can become impossible to retrofit their standard to conform to another standard.    When the American Standards Committee came out with a standard character set for computers (ASCII), IBM disregarded the standard and proceeded with their own character set, called the Extended Binary Character Data Interchange Code (EBCDIC).  Even thirty years later, there has still been no resolution between ASCII and EBCDIC, and data transfers between ASCII and EBCDIC machines continue to present problems.  For example, the EBCDIC character set has no characters for "[" and "]", and ASCII has no character for the "cent" sign.   


When one strips away all of the confusing acronyms and jargon, the object technology approach is nothing more than a method, an approach to systems design which can be implemented without any changes to existing software technology.

Here is an actual example from the popular IDMS database:








            WRITE OUT-REC.

The equivalent in SQL:

   Customer c,
   Order o,
   Order_line l,
   Customer_name = ?JONES?
   c.cust_nbr = o.cust_nbr
   o.order_nbr = l.order.nbr
   l.product_nbr = p.product_nbr




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