I will give you an example first:

public interface LoginAuth{
   public String encryptPassword(String pass);
   public void checkDBforUser();

Now suppose you have 3 databases in your application. Then each and every implementation for that database needs to define the above 2 methods:

public class DBMySQL implements LoginAuth{
          // Needs to implement both methods
public class DBOracle implements LoginAuth{
          // Needs to implement both methods
public class DBAbc implements LoginAuth{
          // Needs to implement both methods

But what if encryptPassword() is not database dependent, and it’s the same for each class? Then the above would not be a good approach.

Instead, consider this approach:

public abstract class LoginAuth{
   public String encryptPassword(String pass){
            // Implement the same default behavior here 
            // that is shared by all subclasses.

   // Each subclass needs to provide their own implementation of this only:
   public abstract void checkDBforUser();

Now in each child class, we only need to implement one method – the method that is database dependent.

Technical Differences

  1. Implementing an interface consumes very little CPU, because it’s not a class, just a bunch of names, and therefore there is no expensive look-up to do. It’s great when it matters such as in embedded devices
  2. Abstract classes, unlike interfaces, are classes. They are more expensive to use because there is a look-up to do when you inherit from them.
  3. Abstract classes can have constants, members, method stubs (methods without a body) and defined methods, whereas interfaces can only have constants and methods stubs.
  4. Methods and members of an abstract class can be defined with any visibility, whereas all methods of an interface must be defined as public (they are defined public by default).
  5. When inheriting an abstract class, a concrete child class must define the abstract methods, whereas an an abstract class can extend another abstract class and abstract methods from the parent class don’t have to be defined.
  6. Similarly, an interface extending another interface is not responsible for implementing methods from the parent interface. This is because interfaces cannot define any implementation.
  7. A child class can only extend a single class (abstract or concrete), whereas an interface can extend or a class can implement multiple other interfaces.
  8. A child class can define abstract methods with the same or less restrictive visibility, whereas a class implementing an interface must define the methods with the exact same visibility (public).

Consider using abstract classes if :
You want to share code among several closely related classes.
You expect that classes that extend your abstract class have many common methods or fields, or require access modifiers other than public (such as protected and private).
You want to declare non-static or non-final fields.

Consider using interfaces if :

You expect that unrelated classes would implement your interface. For example,many unrelated objects can implement Serializable interface.
You want to specify the behaviour of a particular data type, but not concerned about who implements its behaviour.
You want to take advantage of multiple inheritance of type.

abstract class establishes “is a” relation with concrete classes. interface provides “has a” capability for classes.

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