OOP (Object-oriented programming) and AOP (Aspect-oriented programming) are two programming paradigms. A programming paradigm is a fundamental style of computer programming. Programming paradigms differ in how each element of the programs is represented and how each step is defined for solving problems.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a programming paradigm that represents concepts as “objects” that have data fields (attributes that describe the object) and associated procedures known as methods. Objects, which are usually instances of classes, are used to interact with one another to design applications and computer programs.
An object-oriented program may be viewed as a collection of interacting objects, as opposed to the conventional model, in which a program is seen as a list of tasks (subroutines) to perform. In OOP, each object is capable of receiving messages, processing data, and sending messages to other objects. Each object can be viewed as an independent “machine” with a distinct role or responsibility. Actions (or “methods”) on these objects are closely associated with the object. For example, OOP data structures tend to “carry their own operators around with them” (or at least “inherit” them from a similar object or class)—except when they must be serialized.
An object-oriented program usually contains different types of objects, each corresponding to a particular kind of complex data to manage, or perhaps to a real-world object or concept such as a bank account, a hockey player, or a bulldozer. A program might contain multiple copies of each type of object, one for each of the real-world objects the program deals with. For instance, there could be one bank account object for each real-world account at a particular bank. Each copy of the bank account object would be alike in the methods it offers for manipulating or reading its data, but the data inside each object would differ reflecting the different history of each account.
Objects can be thought of as wrapping their data within a set of functions designed to ensure that the data are used appropriately, and to assist in that use. The object’s methods typically include checks and safeguards specific to the data types the object contains. An object can also offer simple-to-use, standardized methods for performing particular operations on its data, while concealing the specifics of how those tasks are accomplished. In this way alterations can be made to the internal structure or methods of an object without requiring that the rest of the program be modified. This approach can also be used to offer standardized methods across different types of objects.
As an example, several different types of objects might offer print methods. Each type of object might implement that print method in a different way, reflecting the different kinds of data each contains, but all the different print methods might be called in the same standardized manner from elsewhere in the program. These features become especially useful when more than one programmer is contributing code to a project or when the goal is to reuse code between projects.
Aspect-oriented programming entails breaking down program logic into distinct parts (so-called concerns, cohesive areas of functionality).
Nearly all programming paradigms support some level of grouping and encapsulation of concerns into separate, independent entities by providing abstractions (e.g., procedures, modules, classes, methods) that can be used for implementing, abstracting and composing these concerns. But some concerns defy these forms of implementation and are called crosscutting concerns because they “cut across” multiple abstractions in a program.
Logging exemplifies a crosscutting concern because a logging strategy necessarily affects every logged part of the system. Logging thereby crosscuts all logged classes and methods.
All AOP implementations have some crosscutting expressions that encapsulate each concern in one place. The difference between implementations lies in the power, safety, and usability of the constructs provided. For example, interceptors that specify the methods to intercept express a limited form of crosscutting, without much support for type-safety or debugging.
AspectJ has a number of such expressions and encapsulates them in a special class, an aspect. For example, an aspect can alter the behavior of the base code (the non-aspect part of a program) by applying advice (additional behavior) at various join points (points in a program) specified in quantification or query called a pointcut (that detects whether a given join point matches).
An aspect can also make binary-compatible structural changes to other classes, like adding members or parents.
The key difference between OOP and AOP is that the focus of OOP is to break down the programming task in to objects, which encapsulate data and methods, while the focus of AOP is to break down the program in to crosscutting concerns. In fact, AOP is not a competitor for OOP, because it emerged out of OOP paradigm. AOP extends OOP by addressing few of its problems. AOP introduces neat ways to implement crosscutting concerns (which might have been scattered over several places in the corresponding OOP implementation) in a single place. Therefore, AOP makes the program cleaner and more loosely coupled.
An application programming interface (API) is a protocol intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other. An API is a library that may include specification for routines, data structures, object classes, and variables. An API specification can take many forms, including an International Standard such as POSIX, vendor documentation such as the Microsoft Windows API, the libraries of a programming language, e.g. Standard Template Library in C++ or Java API.
An API differs from an application binary interface (ABI) in that an API is source code based while an ABI is a binary interface. For instance POSIX is an API, while the Linux Standard Base is an ABI. In object-oriented languages, an API usually includes a description of a set of class definitions, with a set of behaviors associated with those classes. This abstract concept is associated with the real functionality exposed, or made available, by the classes that are implemented in terms of class methods (or more generally by all its public components hence all public methods, but also possibly including any internal entity made public, like fields, constants, nested objects, enums, etc.).
The API in this case can be conceived as the totality of all the methods publicly exposed by the classes (usually called the class interface). This means that the API prescribes the methods by which one interacts with/handles the objects derived from the class definitions.
More generally, one can see the API as the collection of all the kinds of objects one can derive from the class definitions, and their associated possible behaviors. Again: the use is mediated by the public methods, but in this interpretation, the methods are seen as a technical detail of how the behavior is implemented. For instance: a class representing a Stack can simply expose publicly two methods push() (to add a new item to the stack), and pop() (to extract the last item, ideally placed on top of the stack).
In this case the API can be interpreted as the two methods pop() and push(), or, more generally, as the idea that one can use an item of type Stack that implements the behavior of a stack: a pile exposing its top to add/remove elements. The second interpretation appears more appropriate in the spirit of object orientation.
This concept can be carried to the point where a class interface in an API has no methods at all, but only behaviors associated with it. For instance, the Java language and Lisp (programming language) API include the interface Serializable, which is a marker interface that requires that each class that implements it should behave in a serialized fashion. This does not require to have any public method, but rather requires that any class that implements it to have a representation that can be saved (serialized) at any time (this is typically true for any class containing simple data and no link to external resources, like an open connection to a file, a remote system, or an external device).
Similarly the behavior of an object in a concurrent (multi-threaded) environment is not necessarily determined by specific methods, belonging to the interface implemented, but still belongs to the API for that Class of objects, and should be described in the documentation. In this sense, in object-oriented languages, the API defines a set of object behaviors, possibly mediated by a set of class methods.
In such languages, the API is still distributed as a library. For example, the Java language libraries include a set of APIs that are provided in the form of the JDK used by the developers to build new Java programs. The JDK includes the documentation of the API in JavaDoc notation.