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Encapsulation - definition & overview

In this article
What is encapsulation?
Benefits of encapsulation programming
Inheritance vs. abstraction vs. encapsulation: what's the difference?
Encapsulation programming (OOP) and containerization explained
How is information hidden via encapsulation programming?
Encapsulation in OOP and Sumo Logic help to prevent cyber attacks
FAQs
What is encapsulation?
Benefits of encapsulation programming
Inheritance vs. abstraction vs. encapsulation: what's the difference?
Encapsulation programming (OOP) and containerization explained
How is information hidden via encapsulation programming?
Encapsulation in OOP and Sumo Logic help to prevent cyber attacks
FAQs

What is encapsulation?

Encapsulation is a way to restrict the direct access to some components of an object, so users cannot access state values for all of the variables of a particular object. Encapsulation can be used to hide both data members and data functions or methods associated with an instantiated class or object.

Key takeaways

  • In object-oriented computer programming (OOP) languages, the notion of encapsulation (or OOP Encapsulation) refers to the bundling of data, along with the methods that operate on that data, into a single unit.
  • Containers are just one example of encapsulation in coding where data and methods are bundled together into a single package.
  • A key benefits to hiding information about attributes and methods using encapsulation in programming is that it prevents other developers from writing scripts or APIs that use your code.
  • Sumo Logic complements your existing cyber security measure with cutting-edge threat detection and security analytics powered by artificial intelligence.

Benefits of encapsulation programming

Encapsulation in programming has a few key benefits. These include:

  • Hiding data: Users will have no idea how classes are being implemented or stored. All that users will know is that values are being passed and initialized.
  • More flexibility: Enables you to set variables as red or write-only. Examples include: setName(), setAge() or to set variables as write-only then you only need to omit the get methods like getName(), getAge() etc.
  • Easy to reuse: With encapsulation, it's easy to change and adapt to new requirements

Inheritance vs. abstraction vs. encapsulation: what's the difference?

Java encapsulation

Object-oriented programming is one of the key pillars of Java. The concepts here refer to object-oriented programming as a whole and Java development. To become a Java developer, it is essential to understand the concepts of encapsulation, inheritance, abstraction and polymorphism.

Along with inheritance, encapsulation and abstraction form the three central principles of object-oriented programming.

What is inheritance in programming?

Inheritance is a mechanism that allows one class to gain the properties of another class in the same way that a child inherits some attributes from each of their parents. Inheritance allows programmers to create a new class that reuses an existing class's data members and methods.

What is abstraction in programming?

Abstraction occurs when a programmer hides any irrelevant data about an object or an instantiated class to reduce complexity and help users interact with a program more efficiently. The term abstraction vs encapsulation can describe the process of hiding some of the information contained in an object or class, but it may also refer to the object itself. An abstraction is any named entity that contains a selection of data and behaviors specific to a particular usage of the originating entity.

In the popular programming text Object-Oriented Analysis and Design, Grady Booch writes that:

"Abstraction and encapsulation are complementary concepts: abstraction focuses on the observable behavior of an object...encapsulation focuses on the implementation that gives rise to this behavior."

Stated differently, an abstraction relates to how an object and its behaviors are presented to the user and encapsulation is a methodology that helps create that experience.

Think about the interface of your mobile phone. Whether you use an Android operating system or iOS, you don't interact directly with the code that allows your phone to connect to the internet, send a text message or play a video game. Instead, you interact with the code through a user interface designed to streamline your experience and make accessing the functions and methods you need to complete a task easily. In this case, the interface is abstracted from the actual code implementation.

Encapsulation programming (OOP) and containerization explained

Containers are a relatively new type of software that can be used to virtually package a piece of code along with all of its libraries and other dependencies that it needs to execute. Containers create an encapsulated virtual environment where an application can be launched using the minimum storage space and computing power. A group of containers can share access to a single operating system and draw their computing resources from a single piece of hardware.

Encapsulation in OOP: containers vs. virtual machines

Containerization has emerged as an alternative to virtual machines because of its highly efficient usage of computing resources. Virtualization allowed multiple operating systems and applications to run simultaneously while sharing the resources of a single computer. Containers improved on this model by sharing a host operating system and installing the container runtime engine onto the host machine's operating system.

A computer running four virtual machines expends additional resources for each instance of the operating system that it runs, while a computer with an installed containerization engine could run the same number of applications on a single operating system. As a result, multiple containers can operate using the same computing capacity as a single virtual machine.

Containers are just one example of encapsulation in coding, where data and methods are bundled into a single package.

How is information hidden via encapsulation programming?

In the Java programming language, and in many other languages, information hiding is controlled using getter/setter methods for data attributes that will be readable or that may be updated by other classes.

Encapsulation in OOP: getter/setter methods

A getter method is used to retrieve the value of a specific variable within a class. A setter method is used to set or update the value of a specific variable within a class. Programmers can use access modifiers to define the visibility and accessibility of classes, along with the data and methods that they contain. In the Java programming language, there are four types of access modifiers to choose from:

  • Private: When the private access modifier is applied to an attribute or method, it can only be accessed by code within the same class. As a result, the class will likely need to include getter and setter methods that can be used to access information about the attribute or to change its value. Variables that can only be accessed through getter and setter calls are encapsulated.
  • Protected: A variable or method that is protected can be accessed by code within the same class, by any classes that are in the same package and by all sub-classes in the same or other packages.
  • Public: The public access modifier is the least restrictive of all. Methods, attributes, and classes coded with this access modifier can be viewed and accessed by code within the same class and all other classes.
  • No modifier: A variable with no access modifier can be accessed or viewed from within the same class or all other classes in the same package.

There are many benefits to hiding information about attributes and methods using encapsulation in programming. One is that it prevents other developers from writing scripts or APIs that use your code. With encapsulation, users of a class do not learn how a class stores its data, and the developer can change the data type of a field without forcing developers and users of the class to change their code.

Encapsulation in OOP and Sumo Logic help to prevent cyber attacks

IT organizations can implement encapsulation to protect sensitive data and maintain compliance with industry-specific data security and privacy requirements such as HIPAA and PCI DDS. The encapsulation process helps to compartmentalize data, limiting vulnerabilities by providing users with information on code implementations exclusively on a need-to-know basis.

Sumo Logic complements your cyber security measure with cutting-edge threat detection and security analytics powered by artificial intelligence. Get started with Sumo Logic for free.

FAQs

What are best practices for implementing encapsulation effectively in object-oriented programming?

1. Use access modifiers: Utilize access modifiers like private, protected, and public to control the visibility of class members. Encapsulate data by making variables private and providing public methods to access and modify them.

2. Encapsulate data: Hide the internal state of an object by declaring variables as private and providing getter and setter methods to access and modify the data. This ensures data integrity and allows for validation and control over data access and modification.

3. Follow the principle of least privilege: Grant minimal access to class members. Only expose what other classes need to interact with the object, keeping implementation details hidden.

4. Avoid direct access: Discourage direct access to class variables outside the class. Encourage accessor and mutator methods to interact with the data, promoting encapsulation and maintainability.

5. Design immutable classes: Consider creating immutable classes where the object's state cannot be changed after instantiation. This promotes thread safety and simplifies the logic around state management.

8. Document exposed APIs: Provide clear documentation for public methods and interfaces to guide other developers in interacting with the class. Document each method's purpose, inputs, outputs, and potential exceptions.

How do Java encapsulation and C encapsulation compare and contrast?

Java encapsulation and C encapsulation have similarities in terms of the concept of bundling data and methods within a unit and controlling access to that data. However, there are significant differences in how encapsulation is implemented in Java and C. Here is a comparison and contrast between Java encapsulation and C encapsulation:

Similarities

1. Data hiding: Both Java and C encapsulation focus on data hiding, where the internal state of an object is shielded from external interference. Both languages ensure data structure integrity and promote secure data member handling by using access modifiers to restrict access to data.

2. Controlled access: Java and C encapsulation provides controlled data access through defined interfaces. By using getter and setter methods in Java and a C function, developers can interact with encapsulated data in a controlled manner.

3. Modularity: Encapsulation in Java and C promotes modularity by bundling related data and methods within a unit (class or structure). This practice enhances code organization, reduces complexity, and facilitates maintenance in both languages.

Difference

1. Implementation: In Java, encapsulation is an inherent feature of object-oriented programming, where classes are used to encapsulate data and methods. Access modifiers like private, protected, and public control visibility. In C, encapsulation is achieved through structuring data and functions within structures, but the language lacks built-in access control features like Java.

2. Access control: Java provides explicit access control through access modifiers, allowing fine-grained control over the visibility of data and methods. C, on the other hand, relies on naming conventions, static functions, and opaque pointers for simulating encapsulation and access control, but the enforcement is not as strict as in Java.

3. Object-oriented vs. procedural: Java encapsulation is part of the object-oriented paradigm, emphasizing class-based encapsulation and inheritance. C encapsulation is more commonly used in procedural programming, where data and functions are encapsulated in structures but lack the inheritance and class-based structure found in Java.

4. Inheritance and polymorphism: Java encapsulation is closely tied to inheritance and polymorphism, enabling hierarchical relationships and extensibility. C encapsulation does not have built-in support for inheritance and polymorphism, as it is a procedural language.

What Java program terms are important to understand in relation to encapsulation?

Java array, Java collection, Java class, Java inheritance, Java methods, Java string, and Java interface leverage encapsulation to organize code, hide implementation details, and enforce controlled access to properties and behaviors, contributing to the overall robustness and maintainability of Java programs.

Java array
Arrays in Java encapsulate a fixed-size collection of elements of the same data type. Encapsulation ensures that the elements of the Java array are accessible and modifiable through well-defined interfaces, such as index-based access.

Java collection

Java collections encapsulate groups of objects, providing data structures for storing and manipulating elements. Encapsulation allows collections to define protected access to elements, maintaining data integrity and security.

Java class

Classes in Java encapsulate properties and behaviors within a unit. Class encapsulation ensures that a class member (variables and methods) is accessible only through defined interfaces, promoting information hiding and modularity.

Java Inheritance

Inheritance in Java allows classes to inherit properties and behaviors from a superclass. Encapsulation ensures that inherited elements are accessed and modified through well-defined interfaces, preserving data integrity and secure access.

Java methods

Methods in Java encapsulate behavior within classes. Encapsulation restricts direct access to methods and data types, enforcing controlled interaction with objects through method invocations.

Java string

Strings in Java are immutable objects that encapsulate sequences of characters. Encapsulation ensures that string manipulation operations are controlled and maintains the consistency of string objects.

Java Interface

- Interfaces in Java encapsulate method signatures without implementations. Encapsulation with interfaces allows classes to implement these interfaces, enforcing a contract for methods that must be provided, thereby promoting code consistency and flexibility.

In summary, encapsulation is a key concept in a Java program that ensures data hiding, data integrity, and secure access to objects' internal state.

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