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Perl Packages - Part 5 (Object Oriented Programming)
Written by Philip L Yuson   
Who is this for
Those who want to learn Object Oriented Programming in Perl

What you should know Object Oriented Programming Concepts
Basic Perl Programming
Perl Packages
Perl Variable Scoping
Perl References
Perl Functions

Now that you have learned how to create packages and functions within packages, let us see how Perl uses these to implement Object Oriented programming.

Object Oriented Programming Concepts
This is a very short description on OOP.

  1. Objects are implemented using classes. A class has methods and properties.

  2. Internal representation of properties are transparent to you. This is called Abstraction.

  3. Methods and properties are enclosed together in the class. This is called encapsulation.

  4. Classes can be built on top of other classes. Methods and properties of parent classes can be re-used by their child classes. This is called inheritance.

  5. A child class can override a parent method through polymorphism.

Perl Implementation of OOP
Perl implements OOP using packages.
Packages are used as classes.
Functions are used as methods.
Variables are used as properties.
Instances are implemented using references.

Don't be overwhelmed with these terms, you can interchange the terms. When we say class, we actually mean a Perl package. When we say method, we actually mean function, etc.

Although you are free to use any method name to initialize your object, you should use new instead. This keeps it consistent with the C++ programming style. If you will be the only one touching your program, you can use any name. If not, be nice to the one who will revise your program, use the standard new method.

@ISA Array
All packages have a local @ISA array. This array is used to implement inheritance. This array contains the classes from which your class is built on.

If you have say, a city class built on top of a province class, you need an item in the @ISA array in the city class with the value of province. Should a function call a method in your class, Perl will first search for the method within your class. If the method is not in your class, it goes to the @ISA array to find any defined parent class. If your class was built on top of a base class, Perl goes to that class and looks for the method there.

Sample Program

package province; {
sub new {
my $class = shift;
my $self = {};
bless $self, $class;
sub setProvince { # initialize variables
my $self = shift;
$self->{PROVINCE} = '';
$self->{COUNTRY} = '';
$self->{PROVINCE} = shift if @_; # values are
$self->{COUNTRY} = shift if @_; # passed
sub printProvince {
my $self = shift;
print "Province : $self->{PROVINCE}\n";
print "Country : $self->{COUNTRY}\n";
package city; {
push @ISA, 'province';
sub new { # Create new object
my $class = shift;
my $city = {};
bless $city, $class; # initialize variables
$city->{CITYNAME} = ''; # Set default
$city->{CITYNAME} = shift if @_; # set if passed
return $city;
sub printCity {
my $city = shift;
print "City Name: $city->{CITYNAME}\n";
package main; {
my $addr = new city('Victoria', 'BC', 'Canada');


The base class is the province class. It has three methods: new, setProvince and printProvince.

The child class is the city class. We defined the city class as a child of the province class by pushing the literal 'province' to the @ISA array.

Both classes have the new method. The new method of the province class is simpler because it just creates a reference to an empty hash and blesses it. The new method of the city class is different. It initializes all the properties and then calls the setProvince method.

Notice that even if the setProvince method is in its parent class, the method is referred within itself ($city). This is inheritance at work. The method in the parent class is re-used by the child class.

Notice also the printCity method in the city class, it calls the printProvince method in its parent class - again - treating the parent method as if it were its own.

Execution starts at package main. It defines a new city with the following parameters: Victoria, BC and Canada. It is actually calling the new function in the city package. When it enters the new function, it performs initialization and then calls the setProvince method of the province class. When the setProvince function is executed, it sets the PROVINCE and COUNTRY properties.

The next statement in the main package calls the printCity method of the $addr object. The printCity function prints out the city name then calls the printProvince function of the province object.

The result of this script will be:

City Name: Victoria
Province: BC
Country : Canada

Copyright: © 2018 Philip Yuson