Planning for the Future: Better Constructors

Even though at this point you may not even know what it means, someday you're going to worry about inheritance. (You can safely ignore this for now and worry about it later if you'd like.) To ensure that this all works out smoothly, you must use the double-argument form of bless. The second argument is the class into which the referent will be blessed. By not assuming our own class as the default second argument and instead using the class passed into us, we make our constructor inheritable.

While we're at it, let's make our constructor a bit more flexible. Rather than being uniquely a class method, we'll set it up so that it can be called as either a class method or an object method. That way you can say:

    $me  = Person->new();
    $him = $me->new();

To do this, all we have to do is check whether what was passed in was a reference or not. If so, we were invoked as an object method, and we need to extract the package (class) using the ref function. If not, we just use the string passed in as the package name for blessing our referent.

    sub new {
        my $proto = shift;
        my $class = ref($proto) || $proto;
        my $self  = {};
        $self->{NAME}   = undef;
        $self->{AGE}    = undef;
        $self->{PEERS}  = [];
        bless ($self, $class);
        return $self;

That's about all there is for constructors. These methods bring objects to life, returning neat little opaque bundles to the user to be used in subsequent method calls.