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mixin - Mix-in inheritance, an alternative to multiple inheritance
package Dog;
sub speak { print "Bark!\n" }
sub new { my $class = shift; bless {}, $class }
package Dog::Small;
use base 'Dog';
sub speak { print "Yip!\n"; }
package Dog::Retriever;
use mixin::with 'Dog';
sub fetch { print "Get your own stinking $_[1]\n" }
package Dog::Small::Retriever;
use base 'Dog::Small';
use mixin 'Dog::Retriever';
my $small_retriever = Dog::Small::Retriever->new;
$small_retriever->speak; # Yip!
$small_retriever->fetch('ball'); # Get your own stinking ball
Mixin inheritance is an alternative to the usual multiple-inheritance
and solves the problem of knowing which parent will be called. It also
solves a number of tricky problems like diamond inheritence.
The idea is to solve the same sets of problems which MI solves without
the problems of MI. For all practical purposes you can think of a mixin
as multiple inheritance without the actual inheritance.
Mixins are a band-aid for the problems of MI. A better solution is to
use traits (called "Roles" in Perl 6), which are like mixins on
steroids. Class::Trait implements this.
Using a mixin class
There are two steps to using a mixin-class.
First, make sure you are inherited from the class with which the
mixin-class is to be mixed.
package Dog::Small::Retriever;
use base 'Dog::Small';
Since Dog::Small isa Dog, that does it. Then simply mixin the new
use mixin 'Dog::Retriever';
and now you can use fetch().
Writing a mixin class
See mixin::with.
Mixins, Inheritance and SUPER
A class which uses a mixin *does not* inherit from it. However, through
some clever trickery, `SUPER' continues to work. Here's an example.
package Parent;
sub foo { "Parent" }
package Middle;
use mixin::with "Parent";
sub foo {
my $self = shift;
return $self->SUPER::foo(), "Middle";
package Child;
use base "Parent";
use mixin "Middle";
sub foo {
my $self = shift;
return $self->SUPER::foo(), "Child";
print join " ", Child->foo; # Parent Middle Child
This will print `Parent Middle Child'. You'll note that this is the same
result if Child inherited from Middle and Middle from Parent. Its also
the same result if Child multiply inherited from Middle and Parent but
*NOT* if it inherited from Parent then Middle. The advantage of mixins
vs multiple inheritance is such ambiguities do not exist.
Note that even though both the Child and Middle define foo() the Middle
mixin does not overwrite Child's foo(). A mixin does not simply export
its methods into the mixer and thus does not blow over existing methods.
A mixin will not warn if the mixin and the user define the same method.
Michael G Schwern <>
Copyright 2002-2010 by Michael G Schwern
This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
under the same terms as Perl itself.
Class::Trait - is a gateway drug to traits
Class::C3 - another band-aid on multiple inheritance
Moose::Role - Moose's implementation of traits/roles.