Navigation:  Appendix B: Dolphin Pattern Book > Class Patterns >

Class Initialization

Previous pageReturn to chapter overviewNext page


When a New Class is created the class variables or class instance variables defined for it will be nil by default. If there are sensible default values for these variables, then the new class should be initialized appropriately. Very often, a class variable is used to implement a Singleton, and it is therefore necessary to initialize this in some way.


Implement a class #initialize method to set the initial values of the class variables. Dolphin arranges for #initialize to be automatically sent to any class that responds to it when the class is installed from a CLS file or package. However, you will need to send it explicitly when the class has just been created, and at any time after the initialization method is changed.

Unlike Instance Initialization, the #initialize method must not forward itself to super since Dolphin may then cause the code to be executed several times when the class is installed into a new image.


Sometimes the initialization of a class variable may not be possible due a dependency issue. That is, it needs to be set up with an instance of some other class that cannot be guaranteed to be available at the class initialization time. In this case employ Lazy Initialization of the appropriate variable instead.

Known Uses

Class Behavior holds a number of class variables that hold masks for an instance specification flag. These are initialized when the class is.


  "Initialize the class variables of the receiver"

  MournerMask := 16r0400.

  IndirectMask    := 16r0800.

  VariableMask    := 16r1000.

  PointersMask := 16r2000.

  NullTermMask    := 16r4000.

  SizeMask := 16r00FF.

  BasicSpecMask    := 16r7FFF.

  FundamentalShapeMask := VariableMask + PointersMask + SizeMask.

  ShapeMask := FundamentalShapeMask + NullTermMask.

  BytesSubMask    := NullTermMask + IndirectMask


Related Patterns

Instance Initialization, Singleton