3.06 Abstract Classes



Abstract Classes

We discussed abstract classes previously as in the section called “Abstract Classes” in the context of general Object-Oriented Programming. An abstract class in C++ is a class that can have state variables and member methods, however, it provides no implementation for at least one of those member methods, i.e. it is incomplete.

Some C++ compilers expect you to define at least one derived class for each abstract class.

Using the same banking example as before, the use of abstract classes can be demonstrated. Suppose the Account class is modified to add a new abstract method called getAccountType() that returns a string defining the type of account. We can require that every child of the Account class implements this method and we can even use the method getAccountType() in the Account class in spite of the fact that the method has no implementation. So the Account will look like the following:

 1 
 2 
 3  #include<iostream>
 4  #include<string> 1
 5  
 6  using namespace std;
 7 
 8  class Account{
 9 
10   protected:
11 
12     int accountNumber;
13     float balance;
14 
15   public:
16 
17     Account(float aBalance, int anAccountNumber);
18     virtual string getAccountType() = 0; 2
19     virtual void display();
20     virtual void makeLodgement(float);
21     virtual void makeWithdrawal(float);
22  };
23 
24  Account::Account(float aBalance, int anAccNumber)
25  {
26 	accountNumber = anAccNumber;
27 	balance = aBalance;
28  }
29 
30  void Account::display(){
31     cout << "Account type: " << getAccountType() << endl; 3
32     cout << "account number: " << accountNumber
33       << " has balance: " << balance << " Euro" << endl;
34  }
35 
36  ...
37 
38 

The full source code for this example is in AbstractCurrentAccount.cpp

1

The "string" header file must be included to allow the use of strings within the application.

2

The assignment of "= 0" allows the method to be defined as abstract. This means that no implementation will be present for that method, in this case the getAccountType() method.

3

Even thought there is no actual implementation for the getAccountType() method, it can still be used. Since the class has an abstract method, the entire class is abstract and so cannot be instantiated, so no objects can now be created of the Account class. To use this class, a child classmust exist and it must implement the getAccountType() method before an object can be created of that class.

 1 
 2  
 3  class CurrentAccount: public Account
 4  {
 5       float overdraftLimit;
 6 
 7   public:
 8       
 9       CurrentAccount(float balance, int accountNumber, float limit);
10       virtual string getAccountType(); 1
11       virtual void setOverDraftLimit(float newLimit);
12       virtual void display();
13       virtual void makeWithdrawal(float amount);
14  };
15 
16  CurrentAccount::CurrentAccount( float balance, int accountNumber, float limit):
17       Account(balance, accountNumber), overdraftLimit(limit) 
18  {}
19 
20  string CurrentAccount::getAccountType() 
21     { return "Current Account"; } 2
22 
23  void CurrentAccount::display()
24  {
25     Account::display(); 3
26     cout << "  And overdraft limit: " << overdraftLimit << endl;
27  }
28 
29  ...
30  
31  int main()
32  {
33    //Account a = Account(35.00,34234324);    NOT ALLOWED
34    //Account *ptrA = &a;
35 
36    CurrentAccount b = CurrentAccount(50.0, 12345, 200.0);
37    b.display(); 4
38  }
39 
40 

The full source code for this example is listed in AbstractCurrentAccount.cpp

1

The abstract method getAccountType() must be re-defined in the child class. Note that this time there is no " = 0", stating that there will be an implementation in this class for the defined method.

2

The implementation is coded. For this class all that occurs is that the string "Current Account" is returned from the method. The implementation for a deposit account would return "Deposit Account" etc.

3

The Account::display() method is called in the same way as before, so the display() method of the parent is used, which in turn calls the getAccountType() method of the child class.

4

The call to b.display() calls the display method of CurrentAccount, which in turn calls the display() method of the parent Account class.





These notes are copyright Dr. Derek Molloy, School of Electronic Engineering, Dublin City University, Ireland 2013-present. Please contact him directly before reproducing any of the content in any way.
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AbstractCurrentAccount.cpp
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Derek Molloy,
8 Oct 2013, 14:38
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