Why Use Getters and Setters/Accessors?
In object-oriented programming (OOP), getters and setters (also known as accessors) are methods used to access and modify the private data members (attributes) of a class.
Encapsulation and Data Hiding
Encapsulation is one of the fundamental principles of OOP that involves bundling data and methods that operate on that data within a single unit, typically a class. Getters and setters play a crucial role in achieving encapsulation.
By declaring class attributes as private and providing public getters and setters, you hide the internal implementation details of the class from the outside world. This prevents direct access to the attributes, ensuring that any modifications to the data follow specific rules defined by the class.
Data Validation and Control
Using setters, you can validate the input data before assigning it to the attributes. This enables you to enforce constraints and rules on the data, ensuring that only valid values are set.
Control over Data Modifications
With getters and setters, you have control over how data is accessed and modified. For example, you can restrict modification of certain attributes to specific conditions or access levels.
Flexibility and Maintenance
Getters and setters allow you to change the internal implementation of a class without affecting the external code that uses the class. You can add validation logic or perform additional operations inside the getters and setters without impacting the existing code that interacts with the class.
By using getters and setters, you can easily debug, update, and maintain the class because all data access and modifications are done through controlled methods.
Achieving Read-Only or Write-Only Properties
If you only provide a getter and omit the setter for a specific attribute, you create a read-only property. This allows external code to access the value but not modify it.
On the other hand, if you only provide a setter and omit the getter for an attribute, you create a write-only property. This allows external code to set the value but not read it.