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version (9.73 KB) by Mihai Moldovan
A class that exposes MATLAB subfunctions as public methods of the primary functions.


Updated 05 Aug 2002

No License

The initial MATLAB programming model assumed that each function is in a separate file. When the programs became more complex the 'subfunctions' were introduced. The idea was that subfunctions are helper functions that can't be accessed from outside the primary function file. This paradigm changed again with the GUIDE implementation. The callbacks in the *.fig file are passed to the primary function in the *.m file that distributes them to the subfunctions using a 'FEVAL switchyard'.

What's next?

My idea is to consider a more 'object oriented' programming model. Objects are supported by MATLAB but their practical use is shaded by the complexity of implementation (How many examples have you seen so far ?!).

When looking at function files like objects, the subfunctions are methods of the primary functions.
In this case subfunctions became generally available from outside their function files. Something like:

argout=somefunction.somesubfunction(argin1, argin2, ...);

I implemented this mechanism in a 'functionsclass' object. To use it SIMPLY type:

argout=f.somefunction.somesubfunction(argin1, argin2, ...);
argout=f.somefunction(argin1, argin2, ...);

As you might expect, the first call to a function/subfunction by this mechanism is somewhat slower than a normal MATLAB call. However, the functionclass object implements a 'Cache' property to store the called function handles so subsequent calls to the same functions are much faster.

The implementation is done only with *.m files and is highly commented (see tutorial.m) . You will discover how to implement a class with a 'ByRef' property in MATLAB. I mean ... the recommended property change in MATLAB is 'ByVal':
f=set (f,'Cache',[]);

But in this example you can simply write
set (f,'Cache',[]);

If you feel that MATLAB may evolve in this way PLEASE LET ME KNOW. If not... consider this just an advanced tutorial on MATLAB objects, subfunctions and function handles.

Cite As

Mihai Moldovan (2021). functionsclass (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (3)

john baldwinson

I like the concepts in functionsclass.

Is the class compatible with 2006a & 2006b matlab releases?
Please reply on my email


mehdi jdir

i like to learn about an oriented object in matlab. how to make a class in m-file and how to call them in my programm?

Felix Totir

Nice work; unfortunately, at the moment, the Matlab Compiler does not support objects.
I expect great improvements in R14 on objects: variable reference transfer etc.
I also intend to implement a "component" class (i.e. with events, methods, properties)

But, as I said, nice work; I'm gonna use it soon.

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R12.1
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux

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