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=begin pod
=TITLE Object Orientation in Perl 6
Perl 6 is an object oriented language at its core, even though it
allows you to write programs in other programming styles.
Perl 6 comes with a wealth of predefined types, which can be classified
in two categories: normal and I<native> types.
Native types are used for low-level types (like C<uint64>). They do not
have the same capabilities as objects, though if you call methods on them,
they are I<boxed> into normal objects.
Everything that you can store in a variable is either a native value, or an
object. That includes literals, types (type objects), code and containers.
=head1 Using Objects
You can use objects by calling methods on them. To call a method on an
expression, add a dot, followed by the method name, optionally followed by
its argument list in round parenthesis (note that no whitespace is allowed
between the method name and the argument list):
say "abc".uc;
# ^^^ method call without arguments
my @words = $string.comb(/\w+/);
# ^^^^^^^^^^^^ method call with one argument
Another method call syntax separates the method name and the argument list
with a colon:
say @*INC.join: ':';
Many operations that don't look like method calls (for example smart
matching, interpolating an object into a string) result in method
calls under the hood.
Methods can return mutable containers, in which case you can assign
to the return value of a method call.
$*IN.input-line-separator = "\r\n";
All objects support the methods from class L<Mu>, which is the root
of the type hierarchy.
=head2 Type Objects
Types themselves are objects, and you can get the I<type object> simply
by writing its name:
my $int-type-obj = Int;
You can ask any object for its type object by calling the C<WHAT> method
(which is actually a macro in method form):
my $int-type-obj = 1.WHAT;
Type objects (other than C<Mu>) can be compared for equality with the
C<===> identity operator:
sub f(Int $x) {
if $x.WHAT === Int {
say 'you passed an Int';
else {
say 'you passed a subtype of Int';
Subtype checking is done by smart-matching:
if $type ~~ Real {
say '$type contains Real or a subtype thereof';
=head1 Classes
Classes are declared using the C<class> keyword, typically followed by a
class Journey {
This declaration results in a type object being created and installed in
the current package and current lexical scope under the name C<Journey>.
You can also declare classes lexically:
my class Journey {
This restricts their visibility to the current lexical scope, which can
be useful if the class is an implementation detail nested inside a module
or another class.
=head2 Attributes
Attributes are variables that exist per instance of a class. They are where
the state of an object is stored. In Perl 6, all attributes are private. They
are typically declared using the C<has> declarator and using the C<!> twigil.
class Journey {
has $!origin;
has $!destination;
has @!travellers;
has $!notes;
While there is no such thing as a public (or even protected) attribute, there
is a way to have accessor methods generated automatically: replace the C<!>
twigil with the C<.> twigil (the C<.> should remind you of method call).
class Journey {
has $.origin;
has $.destination;
has @!travellers;
has $.notes;
This defaults to providing a read-only accessor. In order to allow changes to
the attribute, add the C<rw> trait:
class Journey {
has $.origin;
has $.destination;
has @!travellers;
has $.notes is rw;
Since classes inherit a default constructor from C<Mu> and we have requested
that some accessor methods are generated for us, our class is already somewhat
# Create a new instance of the class.
my $vacation =
origin => 'Sweden',
destination => 'Switzerland',
notes => 'Pack hiking gear!'
# Use an accessor; this outputs Sweden.
say $vacation.origin;
# Use an rw accessor to change the value.
$vacation.notes = 'Pack hiking gear and sunglasses!';
Note that the default constructor will only set attributes that have an
accessor method.
=head2 Methods
Methods are declared with the C<method> keyword inside of a class body.
class Journey {
has $.origin;
has $.destination;
has @!travellers;
has $.notes is rw;
method add_traveller($name) {
if $name ne any(@!travellers) {
push @!travellers, $name;
else {
warn "$name is already going on the journey!";
method describe() {
"From $!origin to $!destination"
A method can have a signature, just like a subroutine. Attributes can be used
in methods, and can always be used with the C<!> twigil, even if they are
declared with the C<.> twigil. This is because really, the C<.> twigil declares
an attribute with the C<!> twigil in its place, and then additionally generates
an accessor method.
There is a subtle but important difference between using, say, C<$!origin> and
C<$.origin> in the method C<describe>. The first is always a simple lookup of
the attribute. It is cheap, and you know that it is the attribute declared in
this class. The latter is really a method call, and thus it may be overridden
in a subclass. Only use C<$.origin> if you explicitly want to allow overriding.
=head2 self
Inside a method, the term C<self> is available, which is bound to invocant, ie
the object that the method was called on. C<self> can be used to call further
methods on the invocant, for example.
=head2 Private Methods
Methods for internal usage inside the class that cannot be called from
anywhere else are introduced with an exclamation mark C<!> before the method
name, and are called with the exclamation mark instead of the dot:
method !do-something-private($x) {
method public($x) {
if self.precondition {
self!do-something--private(2 * $x)
Private methods are not inherited to subclasses.
=head2 Submethods
A submethod is public method that is not inherited to subclasses. The name
stems from the fact that they are semantically similar to subroutines.
Submethods are useful for object construction and destruction tasks, as well
as for tasks that are so specific to a certain type that subtypes must
certainly override them.
TODO: example
=head2 Inheritance
Classes can have I<parent classes>.
class Child is Parent1 is Parent2 { }
If a method is called on the child class, and the child class does not
provide that method, the parent classes' method of that name is invoked instead,
if it exists. The order in which parent classes are consulted is called the
I<method resolution order> (MRO). Perl 6 uses the
L<C3 method resolution order|>.
You can ask a type for its MRO through a call to its metaclass:
say Parcel.^mro; # Parcel() Cool() Any() Mu()
If a class does not specify a parent class, L<Any> is assumed by default. All
classes directly or indirectly derive from L<Mu>, the root of the type
All calls to public method are "virtual" in the C++ sense, wihch means that
the actual type of an object determines which method to call, not the declared
=head2 Object Construction
Objects are generally created through methods calls, either on the type object
or on another object of the same type.
Class L<Mu> provides a constructor method called L<new>, which takes named
arguments and uses them to initialize public attributes.
class Point {
has $.x;
has $.y = 2 * $!x;
my $p = x => 1, y => 2);
# ^^^ inherited from class Mu calls method L<bless> on its invocant, passing along all the named
arguments. C<bless> creates the new object, and then calls method C<BUILDALL>
on it. C<BUILDALL> walks all subclasses in reverse method resolution order
(i.e. from L<Mu> to most derived classes), and in each class checks for
existence of a method named C<BUILD>. If it exists, it is called, again
passing all named arguments from method C<new> to it. If not, the public
attributes from this class are initialized from named arguments of the same
name. In either case, if neither C<BUILD> nor the default mechanism has
initialized the attribute, default values are applied (the C<2 * $!x> in the
example above).
This object construction scheme has several implications for customized
constructors. First, custom C<BUILD> methods should always be submethods,
otherwise they break attribute initialization in subclasses. Second,
C<BUILD> submethods can be used to run custom code at object construction
time. They can also be used for creating aliases for attribute initialization:
class EncodedBuffer {
has $.enc;
has $.data;
submethod BUILD(:encoding(:$enc), :$data) {
$!enc := $enc;
$!data := $data;
my $b1 = encoding => 'UTF-8', data => [64, 65] );
my $b2 = enc => 'UTF-8', data => [64, 65] );
# both enc and encoding are allowed now
Since passing arguments to a routine binds the argumenst to the parameters,
a separate binding step is unnecessary if the attribute is used as parameter.
So the example above yould also have been written as
submethod BUILD(:encoding(:$!enc), :$!data) {
# nothing to do here anymore, the signature binding
# does all the work for us.
The third implication is that if you want a constructor that accepts positional
arguments, you must write your own C<new> method:
class Point {
has $.x;
has $.y;
method new($x, $y) {
self.bless(*, :$x, :$y);
However this is considered poor practice, because it makes correct
initialization of objects from subclasses harder.
=head1 Roles
Roles are in some ways similar to classes, in that they are a collection of
attributes and methods. They differ in that roles are also meant for
describing only parts of an object's behavior, and in how roles are applied to
classes. Or to phrase it differently, classes are meant for managing
instances, and roles are meant for managing behavior and code reuse.
role Serializable {
method serialize() {
self.perl; # very primitive serialization
method deserialization-code() {
&eval; # reverse operation to .perl
class Point does Serializable {
has $.x;
has $.y;
my $p =, :y(2));
my $serialized = $p.serialize; # method provided by the role
my $clone-of-p = Point.deserialization-code()($serialized);
say $clone-of-p.x; # 1
Roles are immutable as soon as the compiler parses the closing bracket of the
role declaration.
=head2 Role Application
Role application differs significantly from class inheritance. When a role
is applied to a class, the methods of that role are copied into the class.
If multiple roles are applied to the same class, conflicts (ie non-multi
methods of the same name) cause a compile-time error, which can be solved
by providing a method of the same name in the class.
This is much safer than multiple inheritance, where conflicts are never
detected by the compiler, but are instead simply resolved to the superclass
that appears earlier in the MRO, which might or might not be what the
programmer wanted.
# TODO: example
When a role is applied to a second role, the actual application is
delayed until the second class is applied to a class, at which point both
roles are applied to the class. Thus
role R1 {
# methods here
role R2 does R1 {
# methods here
class C does R2 { }
produces the same class C<C> as
role R1 {
# methods here
role R2 {
# methods here
class C does R2 does R1 { }
=head2 Stubs
When a role contains a stubbed method, a non-stubbed version of a method
of the same name must be supplied at the time the role is applied to a class.
This allows you to create roles that act as abstract interfaces.
role AbstractSerializable {
method serialize() { ... } # literal ... here marks the
# method as a stub
# the following is a compile time error, for example
# Method 'serialize' must be implemented by Point because
# it is required by a role
class APoint does AbstractSerializable {
has $.x;
has $.y;
# this works:
class SPoint does AbstractSerializable {
has $.x;
has $.y;
method serialize() { "p($.x, $.y)" }
The implementation of the stubbed method may also be provided by another role.
TODO: parameterized roles
=head1 Meta-Object Programming and Introspection
TODO: everything :-)
=end pod
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