What Is Specification in Object-Oriented Programming?


Scott Campbell

When it comes to object-oriented programming (OOP), one crucial concept to understand is specification. Specification refers to the process of defining the behavior and attributes of objects in a software system. It allows developers to clearly define what an object can do and how it interacts with other objects.

Why is Specification Important?

Specification plays a vital role in OOP as it helps in creating modular, reusable, and maintainable code. By defining the behavior of objects through specifications, developers can create code that is easier to understand, test, and maintain.

Defining Object Behavior

In OOP, specification involves defining the methods or functions that an object can perform. These methods encapsulate the behavior of the object and define what actions it can take.


<code>public class Car {
    private String brand;
    private int year;
    public Car(String brand, int year) {
        this.brand = brand;
        this.year = year;
    public void startEngine() {
        System.out.println("Starting engine..");
    public void accelerate() {

In the above example, we have defined a Car class with two attributes: brand and year. The class also has two methods: startEngine() and accelerate().

The Role of Attributes

In addition to behavior, specification also includes defining the attributes or properties of an object. These attributes represent the state or data associated with an object.


<code>public class Car {
    private String brand;
    private int year;
    // Constructor and methods.

In the above example, brand and year are the attributes of the Car class. These attributes define the state of a car object, such as its brand name and manufacturing year.

Creating Reusable Code

By defining specifications for objects, developers can create code that is reusable. Objects with well-defined behavior can be reused in different parts of an application or even in other applications altogether.

Maintaining Codebase

Specification also helps in maintaining a codebase. When changes are required, having clear specifications makes it easier to understand how objects interact with each other and what impact those changes may have on the overall system.

The Role of Interfaces and Abstract Classes

In many object-oriented languages, interfaces and abstract classes are used to define specifications. These provide a way to define common behavior that multiple objects can implement.


An interface defines a contract that specifies a set of methods that implementing classes must provide. It allows objects of different classes to be treated polymorphically based on their common behavior.


<code>public interface Drawable {
    void draw();

In this example, we have defined an Drawable interface with a single method draw(). Any class that implements this interface must provide an implementation for the draw() method.

Abstract Classes

Abstract classes are similar to interfaces but can also provide partial implementations of methods. They can define both behavior and attributes, allowing implementing classes to inherit and extend their functionality.


<code>public abstract class Shape {
    private String color;
    public Shape(String color) {
        this.color = color;
    public abstract double getArea();

In this example, we have an abstract class Shape with a private attribute color. The class also declares an abstract method getArea(), which any concrete subclass must implement.

In Conclusion

Specification is a crucial aspect of object-oriented programming. It allows developers to define the behavior and attributes of objects, leading to reusable, modular, and maintainable code.

Interfaces and abstract classes further enhance the ability to create specifications and define common behavior across multiple objects. By understanding specification, developers can write better code that is easier to understand, test, and maintain.

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