protocols, inheritance and polymorphism

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Mon Nov 29 01:56:11 CET 2004

Christophe Cavalaria <chris.cavalaria at> wrote:

> If your programs need that much dynamic_cast to work, then your programs are
> bad.

Wrong.  Look at the absolute mess that the Visitor design pattern is,
and how Robert Martin made it much less horrible by turning it into
Dynamic Visitor -- which needs so much dynamic_cast it hurts.

In Java, you're dynamic_cast'ing all of the time in a totally obscure
way, each time you're pulling stuff out of a containter.

    SomeSillyType foo = (SomeSillyType) (mycontainer.getsomething());

since the container's method returns Object, the cast is dynamic -- only
checked at runtime.  C++, and the latest Java, give up OO in favour of
another paradigm (generic programming) to deal with this, and if this
isn't an admission that their "static" (ha!) typesystem doesn't work
with OOP properly, I don't know what would count as one.

> Besides, it's easy to do a 'safe' dynamic_cast, just assert that the
> pointer you get isn't 0 after the cast.

or catch the dynamically generated exception in Java's case, sure.  You
can "easily" implement what a decent language would have in the first
place... except that co-variance and counter-variance continue to dog
every effort to make a decent "static OOP typesystem", of course...:-)


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