Sun's HotSpot

Ken Dickey kend at
Fri Oct 9 21:20:31 UTC 1998

>Can someone sum up the
>advantages of a prototype-based inheritance model?

I'll take a quick shot at it.  The tradeoff really becomes apparent with 
different usage scenarios.  If you make a lot of objects which all share 
common characteristics, the class based model works fine.  When you start 
making a lot of idiosyncratic objects, having a class per object makes 
much less sense.  

I did not really see the advantage of the prototype approach until I 
started working with Apple's SK8 (pronounced 'skate') multimedia IDE.  
The SK8 environment presents the author/programmer with a bunch of 
pallets.  So instead of building up from the bits, you typically make a 
clone or child of a fairly heavyweight prototype object.  Children can 
inherit from multiple parents.  It is kind of a grab, drop, add behavior 
scenario.  Like grab a window frame, grab a movie, grab some background 
picture, grab a few sounds, make some hotspots play sounds and movies, 
etc.  Hook things up and add behaviors (methods) and you have a MM 
application.  You can change a 'parent' and either propagate changes to 
children or not.  When you open/inspect an object, you see both it's 
state (ivars) and behaviors (methods), so you tend to think of dealing 
with individual objects.

Note that there is a big change in level here.  As I noted, the media 
authoring objects tend to have most of what you need and therefore be 
fairly heavyweight (i.e. have a lot of ivars and methods).  This 
Authoring level can be built on top of an underlying class based system 
given some introspection and reflection.  Instance methods are a great 

You may have noticed by now that Morphic shows some tendencies in this 
direction.  Heh, heh. ;^)


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