highly restrictive sub-classing

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I have a lot of scripts that use a memory-hungry module, but most of them
use only a small subset of that module's features, and it should be
possible to implement that subset in a more memory efficient way.

I want to "subclass" the memory hungry module.  Many of the methods, ones
which are rarely used and can't be made memory efficient, will not be
implemented in the subclass.

I could define subs in the subclass for each such method, invoking croak or
die so the call doesn't get dispatched up the @ISA list.  But I want the
default to lie the other way around, methods are unimplemented unless other

I guess I could walk the superclass's symbol table, automatically defining
a croaking sub for every subroutine in that symbol table unless they are in
my "implemented" list.  But that seems rather hackish.  Is there a better
way to do that?

Other options would be to *not* put the superclass in @ISA, and manually
redispatch calls to the superclass when that is the proper thing to do,
with unimplemented ones getting exceptions from Perl rather than explicit
ones. Is there some pitfall in doing this?

Or I could just do a complete code-fork and have the two modules completely
unrelated other than happening to have many method names in common.  This
loses improvements made to the superclass.  But since any new methods would
have to be manually inspected for compatibility before adding them to the
redispatch list anyway, I am not sure this is really a meaningful problem.


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Re: highly restrictive sub-classing

On Aug 4, 12:56 pm, xhos...@gmail.com wrote:
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This is similar to CGI::Simple, which replaces CGI with lighter weight
It takes the approach of not using CGI at all.

I guess it would depend on how much you wanted to call code from the
original module.  If it is very little, then probably better to make
a clean break.


Re: highly restrictive sub-classing

Quoth xhoster@gmail.com:
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A better idea, I would say, would be to make the split the other way:
put the common, cheap methods in the superclass, and have the subclass
inherit them and add more, expensive, methods. Of course, if the
expensive class is not your code this is probably not possible.

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That would be a bad idea. For one thing, you haven't considered methods
the superclass inherits from elsewhere; for another, you haven't
considered AUTOLOAD. Now, these may not be issues in your case, but if
they become so you will get rather strange bugs.

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Not really: it's called 'delegation', and is a perfectly respectable way
of reusing code. You would need to keep around (or otherwise be able to
produce on demand) an object of the expensive class, to invoke the
methods on: once you've done that, you can use Class::HasA to perform
the delegation automatically. It would probably be best to override
->isa to say that you *are*, in fact, a 'superclass'.

You could also have something like

    sub AUTOLOAD {
            or croak "Undefined subroutine $AUTOLOAD called";

        (my $meth = $AUTOLOAD) =~ s/.*:://;

        if ($_[0]->_delegate->can($meth)) {
            croak "->$meth is not implemented in this light-weight version";
        else {
            croak "Can't locate object method '$meth' via package " .

to distinguish methods you have chosen not to implement from methods
that would never have existed.
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This situation (two classes that don't inherit from each other, but have
many methods with the same names and semantics) is what defines a
'role': depending on how much time you want to put into this, you could
look at some of the role-related modules on CPAN. The most complete, of
course, is Moose, which provides a full Perl 6-ish object model for
Perl 5; but it is both rather heavy and rather complicated to learn.


I've seen things you people wouldn't believe: attack ships on fire off
the shoulder of Orion; I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the
Tannhauser Gate. All these moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.                                                   ben@morrow.me.uk

Re: highly restrictive sub-classing


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Subclassing is probably the wrong technology here. Have you looked at
using mixins or plugins? You separate the methods and features into
functional groups in separate modules then only load the modules you
need. They put their methods into the same namespace so you keep the
same interface, but you don't load stuff you don't need.

Re: highly restrictive sub-classing

On Mon, 04 Aug 2008 16:56:29 +0000, xhoster wrote:
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Sounds like a job for AutoSplit/AutoLoader.

Peter Scott
http://www.perlmedic.com /
http://www.perldebugged.com /

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