Documentation

Properties

What You Can Define

You can control aspects of property definitions in the following ways:

  • Specify a default value for each property individually

  • Assign property values in a class constructor

  • Assign property attribute values on a per block basis

  • Define methods that execute when the property is set or queried

    Note:   Always use case sensitive property names in your MATLAB® code. Properties cannot have the same name as the class.

Initializing Property Values

There are two basic approaches to initializing property values:

  • In the property definition — MATLAB evaluates the expression only once and assigns the same value to the property of every instance.

  • In a class constructor — MATLAB evaluates the assignment expression for each instance, which ensures that each instance has a unique value.

Defining Default Values

Within a properties block, you can control an individual property's default value. Default values can be constant values or MATLAB expressions. Expressions cannot reference variables. For example:

classdef ClassName
   properties
      Prop1 % No default value assigned
      Prop2 = 'some text'; 
      Prop3 = sin(pi/12); % Expression returns default value
   end
end

MATLAB sets property values not specified in the class definition to empty ([]).

    Note:   Evaluation of property default values occurs only when the value is first needed, and only once when MATLAB first initializes the class. MATLAB does not reevaluate the expression each time you create a class instance.

Related Information

For more information on the evaluation of expressions that you assign as property default values, see When MATLAB Evaluates Expressions .

Assigning Property Values from the Constructor

To assign values to a property from within the class constructor, reference the object that the constructor returns (the output variable obj):

classdef MyClass
   properties
      Prop1
   end
   methods
      function obj = MyClass(intval)
         obj.Prop1 = intval;
      end
   end
end

When you assign a property in the class constructor, MATLAB evaluates the assignment statement for each object you create. Assign property values in the constructor if you want each object to contain a unique value for that property.

For example, suppose you want to assign a unique handle object to the property of another object each time you create one of those objects. Assign the handle object to the property in the constructor. Call the handle object constructor to create a unique handle object with each instance of your class.

Related Information

See Referencing the Object in a Constructor for more information on constructor methods.

Initializing Properties to Unique Values

MATLAB assigns properties to the specified default values only once when MATLAB loads the class definition. Therefore, if you initialize a property value with a handle-class constructor, MATLAB calls this constructor only once and every instance references the same handle object. If you want a property value to be initialized to a new instance of a handle object each time you create an object, assign the property value in the constructor.

Property Attributes

All properties have attributes that modify certain aspects of the property's behavior. Specified attributes apply to all properties in a particular properties block. For example:

classdef ClassName
   properties (PropertyAttribute = value)
      Prop1
      Prop2
   end
end

For example, only methods in the same class definition can modify and query the Salary and Password properties.

classdef EmployeeInfo
   properties (Access = private)
      Salary
      Password
   end
end

This restriction exists because the class defines these properties in a properties block with the Access attribute set to private.

Property Attributes

For a description of property attributes, see Property Attributes.

Property Access Methods

You can define methods that MATLAB calls whenever setting or querying a property value. Define property set access or get access methods in methods blocks that specify no attributes and have the following syntax:

methods

   function obj = set.PropertyName(obj,value)
      ...
   end

   function value = get.PropertyName(obj)
      ...
   end

end

MATLAB does not call the property set access method when assigning the default value specified in the property's definition block.

For example, the set.Password method tests the length of the character array assigned to a property named Password. If there are less than seven characters in the value assigned to the property, MATLAB returns the error. Otherwise, MATLAB assigns the specified value to the property.

function obj = set.Password(obj,pw)
   if numel(pw) < 7
      error('Password must have at least 7 characters')
   else
      obj.Password = pw;
end

Related Information

For more information on these methods, see Property Access Methods.

Referencing Object Properties Using Variables

MATLAB can resolve a property name from a char variable using an expression of the form:

object.(PropertyNameVar)

where PropertyNameVar is a variable containing the name of a valid object property. Use this syntax when passing property names as arguments. For example, the getPropValue function returns the value of the KeyType property:

PropName = 'KeyType';
function o = getPropValue(obj,PropName)
   o = obj.(PropName);
end

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