5/9/13

Aspect Oriented Programming & AspectJ

The motivation for AspectJ (and likewise for aspect-oriented programming) is the realization that there are issues or concerns that are not well captured by traditional programming methodologies. Consider the problem of enforcing a security policy in some application. By its nature, security cuts across many of the natural units of modularity of the application. Moreover, the security policy must be uniformly applied to any additions as the application evolves. And the security policy that is being applied might itself evolve. Capturing concerns like a security policy in a disciplined way is difficult and error-prone in a traditional programming language.

Concerns like security cut across the natural units of modularity. For object-oriented programming languages, the natural unit of modularity is the class. But in object-oriented programming languages, crosscutting concerns are not easily turned into classes precisely because they cut across classes, and so these aren't reusable, they can't be refined or inherited, they are spread through out the program in an undisciplined way, in short, they are difficult to work with.

Aspect-oriented programming is a way of modularizing crosscutting concerns much like object-oriented programming is a way of modularizing common concerns. AspectJ is an implementation of aspect-oriented programming for Java.


How to use AspectJ?

Def. A join point is a well-defined point in the program flow.

Def. Join points compose into pointcuts.

Def. Advice, the code which is run when a pointcut is reached.

Def. Pointcuts and advice combine into aspects, AspectJ's reusable, inheritable unit of modularity.

Def. Inter-type declarations in AspectJ are declarations that cut across classes and their hierarchies. They may declare members that cut across multiple classes, or change the inheritance relationship between classes. Unlike advice, which operates primarily dynamically, introduction operates statically, at compile-time.

Inter-type declarations are used to deal with crosscutting concerns of a program's class structure.

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