134 Dividing a Program into Subprograms Subprogram Figure 1-5: Storing subprograms in separate files can make it easy to read and modify one part of a large program without having to see any other part of that same program. Main program Math commands Math commands Saving commands Saving commands Printing commands Printing commands Printing commands The more commands you cram into a program, the larger the program gets. Main program Run math program Run saving program Run printing program By dividing a large program into smaller subprograms and storing those subprograms in separate files, you can dramatically shrink the size of your main program. Math commands Math commands Subprogram Saving commands Saving commands Subprogram Printing commands Printing commands Printing commands By storing subprograms in separate files, you can write a program with multiple programming languages. That way you can write your main program in BASIC and then write subprograms in C or Java. By doing this, you don’t have to limit yourself to the strengths and weaknesses of a single programming language. Instead, you can take advantage of the strengths of each programming language. If you’re writing a hard disk diagnostic program, you could write the whole thing in C because C is great for accessing the hardware of a computer. However, you may find that C is too clumsy for printing reports or displaying information on-screen. In that case, what are your choices? You can ✦ Use C to write the whole program. This is great for accessing computer hardware but hard for writing the rest of the program, like the user interface. ✦ Use an easier language, like BASIC, to write the whole program. This is great for writing every part of the program except the part needed to access the computer hardware. ✦ Use a mix of two or more programming languages. Use BASIC to write most of the program and then use C to write a subprogram to access the computer hardware.
Dividing a Program into Objects 135 By giving you the option to choose the best programming language for a specific task, subprograms help make it easier for you to write larger programs, as shown in Figure 1-6. Written in the C programming language Written in the BASIC programming language Figure 1-6: Subprograms give you the option of using different programming languages to write different parts of a larger program. User Interface Examine hard disk Displaying report Printing Save report A large program may consist of several subprograms all written in the same programming language. User Interface Displaying report Printing Save report Written in the C programming language Examine hard disk Storing subprograms in separate files gives you the option of writing subprograms in a different programming language. Book II Chapter 1 How Programs Work Dividing a Program into Objects The more complicated programs get, the larger they get. If programs get too big, they get harder to write, understand, and modify. This is why dividing a large program into multiple smaller subprograms can make programming much easier. Just write a bunch of little programs and then paste them together to create a bigger program. Unfortunately, dividing a large program into subprograms isn’t without its problems: ✦ In theory, if you want to update a program, you can modify a subprogram and plug that modified subprogram back into the main program to create an updated version. ✦ In reality, that almost never works. The problem comes from the fact that subprograms aren’t always independent entities that you can yank out and replace without affecting the rest of the program. Sometimes one subprogram relies on data manipulated by a second subprogram. Change that first subprogram, and those changes could affect that first subprogram in a domino-like effect, as shown in Figure 1-7.
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