Object::InsideOut::Metadata - Introspection for Object::InsideOut classes


This document describes Object::InsideOut::Metadata version 4.05


 package My::Class; {
     use Object::InsideOut;
     use Object::InsideOut::Metadata;

     my @data :Field :Arg('data') :Get('data') :Set('put_data');
     my @misc :Field;

     my %init_args :InitArgs = (
         'INFO' => '',

     sub _init :Init
         my ($self, $args) = @_;
         if (exists($args->{'INFO'})) {
             $misc[$$self] = 'INFO: ' . $args->{'INFO'};

     sub misc :lvalue :Method
         my $self = shift;
     add_meta(__PACKAGE__, 'misc', { 'lvalue' => 1 });

 package main;

 # Obtain a metadata object for a class
 my $meta = My::Class->meta();

 # ... or obtain a metadata object for an object
 my $obj = My::Class->new();
 my $meta = $obj->meta();

 # Obtain the class hierarchy from the metadata object
 my @classes = $meta->get_classes();

 # Obtain information on the parameters for a class's construction
 my %args = $meta->get_args();

 # Obtain information on a class's methods
 my %methods = $meta->get_methods();


Object::InsideOut provides an introspection API that allows you to obtain metadata on a class's hierarchy, constructor parameters, and methods. This is done through the use of metadata objects that are generated by this class.

In addition, developers can specify metadata data for methods they write for their classes.


To obtain metadata on an Object::InsideOut class or object, you must first generate a metadata object for that class or object. Using that metadata object, one can then obtain information on the class hierarchy, constructor parameters, and methods.

my $meta = My::Class->meta();
my $meta = $obj->meta();

The ->meta() method, which is exported by Object::InsideOut to each class, returns an Object::InsideOut::Metadata object which can then be queried for information about the invoking class or invoking object's class.


Any Object::InsideOut class potentially has four categories of classes associated with it:

1. Object::InsideOut

While the basis for all Object::InsideOut classes it is not an object class per se because you can create objects from it (i.e., you can't do Object::InsideOut-new()>). While My::Class-isa('Object::InsideOut')> will return true, because Object::InsideOut is not an object class, it is not considered to be part of a class's hierarchy.

2. The class itself

A class's hierarchy always includes itself.

3. Parent classes

These are all the Object::InsideOut classes up the inheritance tree that a class is derived from.

4. Foreign classes

These are non-Object::InsideOut classes that a class inherits from. (See "FOREIGN CLASS INHERITANCE" in Object::InsideOut.) Because of implementation details, foreign classes do not appear in a class's @ISA array. However, Object::InsideOut implements a version of ->isa() that handles foreign classes.

A class's hierarchy consists of any classes in the latter three categories.


When called in an array context, returns a list that constitutes the class hierarchy for the class or object used to generate the metadata object. When called in a scalar context, returns an array ref.


When called in an array context, calling ->isa() without any arguments on an Object::InsideOut class or object returns a list of the classes in the class hierarchy for that class or object, and is equivalent to:

 my @classes = $obj->meta()->get_classes();

When called in a scalar context, it returns an array ref containing the classes.


Constructor parameters are the arguments given to a class's ->new() call.


Returns a hash (hash ref in scalar context) containing information on the parameters that can be used to construct an object from the class associated with the metadata object. Here's an example of such a hash:

     'My::Class' => {
         'data' => {
             'field' => 1,
             'type' => 'numeric',
         'misc' => {
             'mandatory' => 1,
     'My::Parent' => {
         'info' => {
             'default' => '<none>',

The keys for this hash are the Object::IsideOut classes in the class hierarchy. These class keys are paired with hash refs, the keys of which are the names of the parameters for that class (e.g., 'data' and 'misc' for My::Class, and 'info' for My::Parent). The hashes paired to the parameters contain information about the parameter:


The parameter corresponds directly to a class field, and is automatically processed during object creation. See "Field-Specific Parameters" in Object::InsideOut.


The parameter is required for object creation. See "Mandatory Parameters" in Object::InsideOut.


The default value assigned to the parameter if it is not found in the arguments to ->new(). See "Default Values" in Object::InsideOut.


The code ref for the subroutine that is used to preprocess a parameter's value. See "Parameter Preprocessing" in Object::InsideOut


The form of type checking performed on the parameter. See "TYPE CHECKING" in Object::InsideOut for more details.


Parameter takes a numeric value as recognized by Scalar::Util::looks_like_number().


Parameter takes a single value (which is then placed in an array ref) or an array ref.

When specified, the contents of the resulting array ref must be of the specified subtype:


Same as for the basic type above.

A class name

Same as for the basic type below.

A reference type

Any reference type as returned by ref()).


Parameter takes an array ref with contents of the specified subtype as per the above.

A class name

Parameter takes an object of a specified class, or one of its sub-classes as recognized by ->isa().

Other reference type

Parameter takes a reference of the specified type as returned by ref().

A code ref

Parameter takes a value that is type-checked by the code ref paired to the 'type' key.


The methods returned by a metadata object are those that are currently available at the time of the ->get_methods() call.

The presence of :Automethod subroutines in an Object::InsideOut class, or AUTOLOAD in a foreign class means that the methods supported by the class may not be determinable. The presence of AUTOLOAD in the list of methods for a class should alert the programmer to the fact that more methods may be supported than are listed.

Methods that are excluded are private and hidden methods (see "PERMISSIONS" in Object::InsideOut), methods that begin with an underscore (which, by convention, means they are private), and subroutines named CLONE, CLONE_SKIP, and DESTROY (which are not methods). While technically a method, import is also excluded as it is generally not invoked directly (i.e., it's usually called as part of use).


Returns a hash (hash ref in scalar context) containing information on the methods for the class associated with the metadata object. The keys in the hash are the method names. Paired to the names are hash refs containing metadata about the methods. Here's an example:

     # Methods exported by Object::InsideOut
     'new' => {
        'class' => 'My::Class',
        'kind'  => 'constructor'
     'clone' => {
         'class' => 'My::Class',
         'kind'  => 'object'
     'meta'  => {
         'class' => 'My::Class'
     'set' => {
         'class' => 'My::Class',
         'kind'  => 'object',
         'restricted' => 1
     # Methods provided by Object::InsideOut
     'dump' => {
         'class' => 'Object::InsideOut',
         'kind'  => 'object'
     'pump' => {
         'class' => 'Object::InsideOut',
         'kind'  => 'class'
     'inherit' => {
         'class' => 'Object::InsideOut',
         'kind'  => 'object',
         'restricted' => 1
     'heritage' => {
         'class' => 'Object::InsideOut',
         'kind'  => 'object',
         'restricted' => 1
     'disinherit' => {
         'class' => 'Object::InsideOut',
         'kind'  => 'object',
         'restricted' => 1
     # Methods generated by Object::InsideOut for My::Class
     'set_data' => {
         'class'  => 'My::Class',
         'kind'   => 'set',
         'type'   => 'ARRAY',
         'return' => 'new'
     'get_data' => {
         'class' => 'My::Class',
         'kind'  => 'get'
     # Class method provided by My::Class
     'my_method' => {
         'class' => 'My::Class',
         'kind'  => 'class'

Here are the method metadata that are provided:


The class in whose symbol table the method resides. The method may reside in the classes code, it may be exported by another class, or it may be generated by Object::InsideOut.

Methods that are overridden in child classes are represented as being associated with the most junior class for which they appear.


Designation of the characteristic of the method:


The ->new() method, of course.

get, set or accessor

A get, set, or combined accessor generated by Object::InsideOut. See "AcCESSOR GENERATION" in Object::InsideOut.

cumulative, or cumulative (bottom up)
chained, or chained (bottom up)

A cumulative or chained method. See "CUMULATIVE METHODS" in Object::InsideOut, and "CHAINED METHODS" in Object::InsideOut. The class associated with these methods is the most junior class in which they appears.


A method that is callable only on a class (e.g., My::Class->my_method()).


A method that is callable only on a object (e.g. $obj->get_data()).


A subroutine found in a foreign class's symbol table. Programmers must check the class's documentation to determine which are actually methods, and what kinds of methods they are.


A subroutine used for object coercion. These may be called as methods, but this is not normally how they are used.


Associated with an AUTOLOAD method for an Object::InsideOut class that implements an :Automethod subroutine. See "AUTOMETHODS" in Object::InsideOut.


The type checking that is done on arguments to set/combined accessors generated by Object::InsideOut. See "TYPE CHECKING" in Object::InsideOut


The value returned by a set/combined accessor generated by Object::InsideOut. See "Set Accessor Return Value" in Object::InsideOut


The method is an :lvalue accessor.


The method is restricted (i.e., callable only from within the class hierarchy; not callable from application code). See "PERMISSIONS" in Object::InsideOut.


When called in an array context, calling ->can() without any arguments on an Object::InsideOut class or object returns a list of the method names for that class or object, and is equivalent to:

 my %meths = $obj->meta()->get_methods();
 my @methods = keys(%meths);

When called in a scalar context, it returns an array ref containing the method names.


Class authors may add the :Method attribute to subroutines in their classes to specifically designate them as OO-callable methods. If a method is only a class method or only an object method, this may be added as a parameter to the attribute:

 sub my_method :Method(class)

The class or object parameter will appear in the metadata for the method when listed using ->get_methods().

CAUTION: Be sure not to use :method (all lowercase) except as appropriate (see "ARGUMENT VALIDATION" in Object::InsideOut) as this is a Perl reserved attribute.

The :Sub attribute can be used to designate subroutines that are not OO-callable methods. These subroutines will not show up as part of the methods listed by ->get_methods(), etc..

Subroutine names beginning with an underscore are, by convention, considered private, and will not show up as part of the methods listed by ->get_methods(), etc..


Class authors may add additional metadata to their methods using the add_meta() subroutine which is exported by this package. For example, if the class implements it own :lvalue method, it should add that metadata so that it is picked up the ->get_methods():

 package My::Class; {
     use Object::InsideOut;
     use Object::InsideOut::Metadata;

     sub my_method :lvalue :Method(object)
     add_meta(__PACKAGE__, 'my_method', 'lvalue', 1);

The arguments to add_meta() are:

Class name

This can usually be designated using the special literal C__PACKAGE__>.

Method name
Metadata name

This can be any of the metadata names under "METHODS METADATA", or can be whatever additional name the programmer chooses to implement.

Metadata value

When adding multiple metadata for a method, they may be enclosed in a single hash ref:

 add_meta(__PACKAGE__, 'my_method', { 'lvalue' => 1,
                                      'return' => 'old' });

If adding metadata for multiple methods, another level of hash may be used:

 add_meta(__PACKAGE__, { 'my_method' => { 'lvalue' => 1,
                                          'return' => 'old' },
                         'get_info'  => { 'my_meta' => 'true' } });


Provide filtering capabilities on the method information returned by ->get_methods().


Perl 5.8.0 or later



Perl 6 introspection:, and


Jerry D. Hedden, <jdhedden AT cpan DOT org>


Copyright 2006 - 2012 Jerry D. Hedden. All rights reserved.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.