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<Classes Are Not Objects ⁄ >

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I was reading a blog post by Derick Bailey last night and I got into the comments due to a few tweets that I saw (I'm on Twitter if you want to follow me). It was a lot of noise and ranting, but one topic that came up was that people working in languages such as C# and Java quite often mistake classes for objects. Working in a language like C# they can feel quite similar, since the distinction is merely that a class represents the abstraction of a set of objects, while an object is just an instance of a class. You can think of the class as the cookie cutter and the object is the cookie.

So what is the importance of this distinction? Well, in C# prior to 4 the distinction wasn't very important. You didn't really have a good way of interacting with a class in a way that the class definition didn't provide. In C# 4 the dynamic type was introduced along with a late binding mechanism that allows the object to respond to methods which don't exist on the class definition. So, are they really method calls at all? We aren't actually calling a method, right? This is exactly why many languages will talk about message passing rather than calling methods.

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