Why "target"?

by Colin Adams (modified: 2007 Apr 08)

I have never understood why, in a quailified feature call such as a.b, a is referred to as the target of a call.

When you make a telephone call, for instance, you don't talk about a target. I would think a much better term would be "recipient". This fits perfectly into the message-passing analogy often used for Objected-Oriented technology.

  • Bernd Schoeller (10 years ago 9/4/2007)

    Message passing

    True, if we regard "message passing" as the paradigm to reason about OO calls, then "recipient" might be better. But there are some objections against the message passing metaphor: the "recipient" object cannot ignore requests (like ignoring a letter); message passing normally is asynchronous, feature calls are not.

    Another metaphor that is often used is the machine metaphor, where queries are "readouts" and commands are "buttons". Here, "target" of the operations sees to be more adequate than "recipient".

    In the end, OO has always suffered from the mixing of multiple metaphors. We always use the metaphor that first best to our way of reasoning. This has its disadvantages, but also its advantages.

    • Colin Adams (10 years ago 9/4/2007)

      Not English

      I fail to see why "target" is appropriate to a push-button machine. I have never seen it used in such a sense. I would certainly have lost marks in any English essay I wrote at school, if I had tried to use it in such a (?)"sense". Colin Adams