Statically Scoped Object Adaptation with Expanders

Proceedings of the Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA 2006), Portland, Oregon, October 22-26, 2006.
Alessandro Warth, Milan Stanojevic, Todd Millstein
This paper introduces the expander, a new object-oriented (OO) programming language construct designed to support object adaptation. Expanders allow existing classes to be noninvasively updated with new methods, fields, and superinterfaces. Each client can customize its view of a class by explicitly importing any number of expanders. This view then applies to all instances of that class, including objects passed to the client from other components. A form of expander overriding allows expanders to interact naturally with OO-style inheritance.

We describe the design, implementation, and evaluation of eJava, an extension to Java supporting expanders. We illustrate eJava's syntax and semantics through several examples. The statically scoped nature of expander usage allows for a modular static type system that prevents several important classes of errors. We describe this modular static type system informally, formalize eJava and its type system in an extension to Featherweight Java, and prove a type soundness theorem for the formalization. We also describe a modular compilation strategy for eJava, which we have implemented using the Polyglot extensible compiler framework. Finally, we illustrate the practical benefits of eJava by using this compiler in two experiments.

[PDF | Implementation | Project Page]