Inheritance in VB.Net VB.NET

Perhaps the best way to describe inheritance as it is used in VB .NET is to begin with an example.

The classes in a given application often have relationships to one another. Consider, for instance, our Employee information application. The Employee objects in the class CEmployee represent the general aspects common to all employees—name, address, salary, and so on.

Of course, the executives of the company will have different perquisites than, say, the secretaries. So it is reasonable to define additional classes named CExecutive and CSecretary, each with properties and methods of its own. On the other hand, an executive is also an employee, and there is no reason to define different Name properties in the two cases. This would be inefficient and wasteful.

This situation is precisely what inheritance is designed for. First, we define the CEmployee class, which implements a Salary property and an IncSalary method:

Next, we define the CExecutive class:

There are two things to note here. First, the line:

indicates that the CExecutive class inherits the members of the CEmployee class. Put another way, an object of type CExecutive is also an object of type CEmployee. Thus, if we define an object of type CExecutive:

then we can invoke the Salary property, as in:

Second, the keyword Overrides in the IncSalary method means that the implementation of IncSalary in CExecutive is called instead of the implementation in CEmployee. Thus, the code:

raises the salary of the CExecutive object ceo based on a car allowance. Note also the presence of the Overridable keyword in the definition of IncSalary in the CEmployee class, which specifies that the class inheriting from a base class is allowed to override the method of the base class.

Next, we define the CSecretary class, which also inherits from CEmployee but implements a different
salary increase for secretary objects.

We can now write code to exercise these classes:

The output in this case is:

The notion of inheritance is quite simple, as put forth in Microsoft's documentation:

If Class B inherits from Class A, then any object of Class B is also an object of Class A and so includes the public properties and methods (that is, the public interface) of Class A. In this case, Class A is called the base class and Class B is called the derived class. On the other hand, in general, the derived class can override the implementation of a member of the base class for its own use. We have seen in the previous example that inheritance is implemented using the Inherits keyword.

Permission to Inherit
There are two keywords used in the base class definition that affect the ability to inherit from a base class:

When this is used to define a class, as in:

Public NotInheritable Class InterfaceExample

the class cannot be used as a base class.

When this is used to define a class, as in:

Public MustInherit Class InterfaceExample

objects of this class cannot be created directly. Objects of a derived class can be created, however. In other words, MustInherit classes can be used as base classes and only as base classes.

There are several keywords that control whether a derived class can override an implementation in the base class. These keywords are used in the declaration of the member in question, rather than in the class definition:

Allows but does not require a member to be overridden. Note that the default for a Public member is NotOverridable. Here is an example:

Prohibits overriding of the member. This is the default for Public members of a class.

Must be overridden. When this keyword is used, the member definition is restricted to just the declaration line, with no implementation and no End Sub or End Function line. For example:

Note also that when a class module contains a MustOverride member, then the class itself must be declared as MustInherit.


Unlike the other modifiers, this modifier belongs in the derived class and indicates that the modified member is overriding a base class member. For example:

Rules of Inheritance
In many object-oriented languages, such as C++, a class can inherit directly from more than one base class. This is referred to as multiple inheritance . VB .NET does not support multiple inheritance, and so a class can inherit directly from at most one other class. Thus, code such as the following is not permitted:

On the other hand, Class C can inherit from Class B, which, in turn, can inherit from Class A, thus forming an inheritance hierarchy. Note also that a class can implement multiple interfaces through the Interface keyword.

MyBase, MyClass, and Me
The keyword MyBase provides a reference to the base class from within a derived class. If you want to call a member of the base class from within a derived class, you can use the syntax:


where MemberName is the name of the member. This will resolve any ambiguity if the derived class also has a member of the same name.

The MyBase keyword can be used to call the constructor of the base class in order to instantiate a member of that class, as in:

Note that MyBase cannot be used to call Private class members. Visual Basic looks for the most immediate version in parent classes of the procedure in question. Thus, if Class C derives from Class B, which derives from Class A, a call in Class C to:

first looks in Class B for a matching procedure named AProc. If none is found, then VB looks in Class A for a matching procedure. (By matching, we mean a method with the same argument signature.)

The keyword MyClass provides a reference to the class in which the keyword is used. It is similar to the Me keyword, except when used to call a method. To illustrate the difference, consider a class named Class1 and a derived class named Class1Derived. Note that each class has an IncSalary method:

Now consider the following code, placed in a form module:

The first call to IncSalary is made using a variable of type Class1 that refers to an object of type Class1. In this case, both of the following calls:

return the same value, because they both call IncSalary in the base class Class1. However, in the second case, the variable of type Class1 holds a reference to an object of the derived class, Class1Derived. In this case, Me refers to an object of type Class1Derived, whereas MyClass still refers to the base class Class1 wherein the keyword MyClass appears. Thus,

returns 12000 whereas the following:

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