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The Object Binary Interface -
C++ Objects for Evolvable Shared Class Libraries

Theodore C. Goldstein             Alan D. Sloane
Sun Microsystems Laboratories     SunPro


Object-oriented design and object-oriented languages support the development of independent software components such as class libraries. When using such components, versioning becomes a key issue. While various ad-hoc techniques and coding idioms have been used to provide versioning, all of these techniques have deficiencies - ambiguity, the necessity of recompilation or re-coding, or the loss of binary compatibility of programs. Components from different software vendors are versioned at different times. Maintaining compatibility between versions must be consciously engineered. New technologies such as distributed objects further complicate libraries by requiring multiple implementations of a type simultaneously in a program. This paper describes a new C++ object model called the Shared Object Model for C++ users and a new implementation model called the Object Binary Interface for C++ implementors.These techniques provide a mechanism for allowing multiple implementations of an object in a program. Early analysis of this approach has shown it to have performance broadly comparable to conventional implementations.

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