Re: Please explain this polymorphism twist to me.

Hendrik Maryns <>
Fri, 25 Apr 2008 15:23:55 +0200
Hash: SHA1

Lew schreef:
| Hendrik Maryns wrote:
|> Hash: SHA1
|> Martin schreef:
|> | Hi there,
|> |
|> | I discovered a strange twist in polymorphism that leaves me in the
|> | dark. If you can figure out what the following output will be, then
|> | please explain to me why.
|> <snip>
|> | "Visitor.visit(Super)"
|> | That means, the call "visitor.visit(this);" in the type Super is
|> | handled by "Visitor.visit(Super)" instead of "Visitor.visit(Sub)".
|> | This occurs as especially strange to me because a look in the debugger
|> | confirms that the actual (dynamic) type of "this" is Sub! In my
|> | opinion, the call should therefore be dynamically handled by
|> | "Visitor.visit(Sub)".
|> |
|> | I hope I didn't confuse you with Super-Sub, now, and you can tell me
|> | where I need to review the JLS to turn on my light again.
|> Yes, I stepped into this trap once as well. You need to override
|> accept(Visitor) in each subclass. Others have explained well why this
|> is so.
|> The proper thing to do would be: do not use overloading, then you
|> wouldn2"t have thought of this!
|> So: (note the names in Visitor)
|> public class OverloadTest {
|> ~ public class Visitor {
|> public void visitSuper(Super s) {
|> System.out.println("Visitor.visit(Super)");
|> }
|> public void visitSub(Sub s) {
|> System.out.println("Visitor.visit(Sub)");
|> }
|> ~ }
|> ~ public class Super {
|> public void accept(Visitor visitor) {
|> visitor.visitSuper(this);
|> }
|> ~ }
|> ~ public class Sub extends Super {
|> public void accept(Visitor visitor) {
|> visitor.visitSub(this);
|> }
|> ~ }
|> ~ public static void main(String[] args) {
|> OverloadTest o = new OverloadTest();
|> Sub s = Sub();
|> s.accept( Visitor());
|> ~ }
|> }
|> Overloading is not always considered a good thing in programming
|> languages, and this is one of the reasons why. One can do without
|> easily.
| But it isn't as bad as unnecessary coupling. Isn't the point of the
| Visitor pattern that the Visitor knows nothing about the classes that it
| visits? Now Sub and Super both depend on Visitor, and Visitor depends
| on both Sub and Super. That's a circular dependency, and it's a Very
| Bad Thing. There's nothing wrong with overloading methods; it's one of
| the seminal idioms of object-oriented programming and Java in particular.
| Good example of an antipattern to avoid, though.

Then how would you implement this, if I may ask?

Ok, there2"s several flavors of visitors. I was thinking about a visitor
which knows what it is visiting, i.e. a visitor which does the
recursion/navigation itself. What2"s the difference between visit(Sub
sub) and visitSub(Sub sub)? Nothing, except the name. And I don2"t see
how you can do without.

Also, a Visitable will always accept a certain type of visitor, so it
will also know its interface. Then why not have it call the proper
method from the start.

I see the circular dependency, but I think it is inherent in the visitor

- --
Hendrik Maryns
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