Classes have virtual methods, just as objects do. There is however a difference between the two. For objects, it is sufficient to redeclare the same method in a descendent object with the keyword virtual to override it. For classes, the situation is different: virtual methods must be overridden with the override keyword. Failing to do so, will start a new batch of virtual methods, hiding the previous one. The Inherited keyword will not jump to the inherited method, if Virtual was used.
The following code is wrong:
The compiler will produce a warning:
The compiler will compile it, but using Inherited can produce strange effects.
The correct declaration is as follows:
This will compile and run without warnings or errors.
If the virtual method should really be replaced with a method with the same name, then the reintroduce keyword can be used:
This new method is no longer virtual.
To be able to do this, the compiler keeps - per class type - a table with virtual methods: the VMT (Virtual Method Table). This is simply a table with pointers to each of the virtual methods: each virtual method has its fixed location in this table (an index). The compiler uses this table to look up the actual method that must be used at runtime. When a descendent object overrides a method, the entry of the parent method is overwritten in the VMT. More information about the VMT can be found in Programmer’s Guide.
Remark: The keyword ’virtual’ can be replaced with the ’dynamic’ keyword: dynamic methods behave the same as virtual methods. Unlike in Delphi, in FPC the implementation of dynamic methods is equal to the implementation of virtual methods.