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Chapter 4. Classes and Interfaces > Item 17: Design and document for inheritanc...

Item 17: Design and document for inheritance or else prohibit it

Item 16 alerted you to the dangers of subclassing a “foreign” class that was not designed and documented for inheritance. So what does it mean for a class to be designed and documented for inheritance?

First, the class must document precisely the effects of overriding any method. In other words, the class must document its self-use of overridable methods. For each public or protected method or constructor, the documentation must indicate which overridable methods the method or constructor invokes, in what sequence, and how the results of each invocation affect subsequent processing. (By overridable, we mean nonfinal and either public or protected.) More generally, a class must document any circumstances under which it might invoke an overridable method. For example, invocations might come from background threads or static initializers.


  

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