Class::ByOS - write object classes that load OS-specific subclasses at runtime


This module is for authors of object classes. A class might be written as

 package System::Wobble;

 use Class::ByOS;

 # NOT new()
 sub __new
    my $class = shift;
    my @args = @_;

    return bless { internals => here }, $class;

 sub wobble
    # we'll just shell out to the 'wobble' binary
    system( "wobble" );


The user of this class doesn't need to know the details; it can be used like

 use System::Wobble;

 my $wobbler = System::Wobble->new();

An OS-specific implementation can be provided in a subclass

 package System::Wobble::wobblyos;

 use base qw( System::Wobble );

 use WobblyOS::Wobble qw( sys_wobble );

 sub wobble { sys_wobble() }



Often a module will provide a general functionallity that in some way uses the host system's facilities, but in a way that can either benefit from, or requires an implementation specific to that host OS. Examples might be IO system calls, access to networking or hardware devices, kernel state, or other specific system internals.

By implementing a base class using this module, a special constructor is formed that, at runtime, probes the available modules, constructing an instance of the most specific subclass that is appropriate. This allows the object's methods, including its actual constructor, to be overridden for particular OSes, in order to provide functionallity specifically to that OS, without sacrificing the general nature of the base class.

The end-user program that uses such a module does not need to be aware of this magic. It simply constructs an object in the usual way by calling the class's new() method and use the object reference returned.


$obj = $class->new( @args )

By default, this module exports a new() function into its importer, which is the constructor actually called by the end-user code. This constructor will determine the best subclass to use (see find_best_subclass()), then invoke the __new() method on that class, passing in all its arguments.


$class = find_best_subclass( $baseclass )

This function attempts to find suitable subclasses for the base class name given. Candidates for being chosen will be


For each candidate, it will be picked if that package provides a method called __new. If it does not exist yet, then an attempt will be made to load the package using require. If this attempt succeeds and the __new method now exists, then the candidate will be picked.


  • Get find_best_subclass() to check OS family names too. E.g. "linux" would also try Unix, or POSIX, or something of that nature. Need a source of these names from somewhere. Tempted to try Devel::CheckOS but that can't distinguish OS names from families, nor can it provide taxonomy ordering.


Paul Evans <>