Access Modifiers

Access Modifiers

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Access Modifiers, also known as Access Specifiers, are keywords used in object-oriented programming languages that set the accessibility of classes, methods, and other members. Access Modifiers define the scope and visibility of these members in the context of an object-oriented program, ultimately dictating how and where these members can be accessed and manipulated within a codebase.

There are typically four types of Access Modifiers, though the exact terms and their behaviors may slightly differ based on the programming language:

  1. Public: The member is accessible from any class in the program. It is the least restrictive access level. Members defined as public can be accessed from any part of the code.
  2. Private: The member is accessible only from within the class it is defined. It is the most restrictive level. It encapsulates the members of a class and prevents external access and misuse.
  3. Protected: The member is accessible within its class and by instances of its subclasses. It is an intermediate level between public and private.
  4. Default (No modifier specified): If no access modifier is specified, then it’s considered to have ‘default’ access. The specifics of this modifier differ among languages. In Java, for instance, a default member is accessible by any class in the same package.

Access modifiers are a fundamental aspect of encapsulation—one of the four primary principles of object-oriented programming, along with inheritance, polymorphism, and abstraction. By carefully controlling the accessibility of members, programmers can create more secure, robust, and maintainable code, as they can prevent the misuse of these members by controlling exactly how and where they can be accessed and manipulated.

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