Inspired from biological modeling, inheritance allows new classes to be constructed that inherit characteristics (fields and methods) from ancestor classes while typically introducing more specialized characteristics, new fields, or methods. A subclass is logically considered to be a specialized version or extension of its parent and by inference its ancestor classes.
In programming, you often create a model of something, and then need a more specialized version of that original model.
These codes illustrate the duplication of attributes between Manager class and the Employee class. Additionally, there could be a number of methods applicable to both classes. In object-oriented languages, special mechanisms are provided that enable you define a class in terms of a previously defined class.
One of its main mechanism is called Inheritance. Inheritance is a form of software reusability in which classes are created by absorbing an existing class’s data and behaviors and embellishing them with new capabilities. The next figure shows the diagram in which the Manager is a derived class of Employee base class.
The C# programming language permits a class to extend one other class only. This restriction is called single inheritance. With single inheritance, a class is derived from one base class. C# does not support multiple inheritance.
Once created, each derived class can become the base class for future derived classes. Typically, the derived class contains the behaviors of its base class. Therefore, a derived class is more specific than its base class and represents a more specialized group of objects.
The next image shows the base class Employee and three derived classes: Engineer, Manager and Secretary. The Manager is also the base class from which the derived class Director explicitly inherits.
The Employee class contains three attributes (Name, Salary, and BirthDate), as well as one method (GetDetails). The Manager class inherits all of these members and specifies an additional attribute, department, as well as the GetDetails method. The Director class inherits all of the members of Employee and Manager and specifies a CarAllowance attribute and a new method, IncreaseAllowance.