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What is a Method Signature?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Computer programs include many algorithms that enable the automation of human tasks. These programs are broken into small modular components that are known as methods and functions. Each method has a specific format that describes what it does in a program. The method signature is the formal definition of the method, which provides a high-level description of the function.

There are many computer languages used in software development. Each language has a specific format required to create a method signature. This typically includes a description of input and output parameters, which defines how the method will work.

The function name is one of the most important parts of a method signature. This name should be specific to the type of function being used. Most programming languages use standards that define the proper naming of methods for that program.

The java programming language requires a fairly verbose method signature compared to other languages. This signature format requires the method arguments, return values, method name, and the security restrictions of the method. These signature restrictions are managed by programming language during normal operations.

A method signature is the definition of how a module will work in a software program. This signature is considered a formal contract between the consumers and producers of the module. The signature provides a definition of how to use the method within the programming language.

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Most programming languages include support manuals that define the functions that are available in the language. These methods help the developer perform automation tasks in programs. The manuals include detailed explanations of each method signature that is used in the programming language.

A method signature is a critical component in software because it defines how the method will operate. Changing an existing signature can negatively effect the operations of customers. These methods are normally changed through a formal process called deprecation, which slowly changes the method definition over time.

The arguments of a method are the required data values that must be passed to the function for it to work properly. These arguments include value types, sequence order, and default settings. A signature describes the arguments that are passed to a function.

The return value of a method signature is what will be returned to the consumer after the function has completed. This value is typically an intuitive data value. For example, a method called “GetCurrentDate” would likely have a return value of the current date.

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