The function change-class can be used to change the class of an instance from its current class, Cfrom, to a different class, Cto; it changes the structure of the instance to conform to the definition of the class Cto.
Note that changing the class of an instance may cause slots to be added or deleted. Changing the class of an instance does not change its identity as defined by the eq function.
When change-class is invoked on an instance, a two-step updating process takes place. The first step modifies the structure of the instance by adding new local slots and discarding local slots that are not specified in the new version of the instance. The second step initializes the newly added local slots and performs any other user-defined actions. These two steps are further described in the two following sections.
In order to make the instance conform to the class Cto, local slots specified by the class Cto that are not specified by the class Cfrom are added, and local slots not specified by the class Cto that are specified by the class Cfrom are discarded.
The values of local slots specified by both the class Cto and the class Cfrom are retained. If such a local slot was unbound, it remains unbound.
The values of slots specified as shared in the class Cfrom and as local in the class Cto are retained.
This first step of the update does not affect the values of any shared slots.
The second step of the update initializes the newly added slots and performs any other user-defined actions. This step is implemented by the generic function update-instance-for-different-class. The generic function update-instance-for-different-class is invoked by change-class after the first step of the update has been completed.
The generic function update-instance-for-different-class is invoked on arguments computed by change-class. The first argument passed is a copy of the instance being updated and is an instance of the class Cfrom; this copy has dynamic extent within the generic function change-class. The second argument is the instance as updated so far by change-class and is an instance of the class Cto. The remaining arguments are an initialization argument list.
There is a system-supplied primary method for update-instance-for-different-class that has two parameter specializers, each of which is the class standard-object. First this method checks the validity of initialization arguments and signals an error if an initialization argument is supplied that is not declared as valid. (For more information, see Section 7.1.2 (Declaring the Validity of Initialization Arguments).) Then it calls the generic function shared-initialize with the following arguments: the new instance, a list of names of the newly added slots, and the initialization arguments it received.
Methods for update-instance-for-different-class may be defined to specify actions to be taken when an instance is updated. If only after methods for update-instance-for-different-class are defined, they will be run after the system-supplied primary method for initialization and will not interfere with the default behavior of update-instance-for-different-class.
Methods for shared-initialize may be defined to customize class redefinition. For more information, see Section 7.1.5 (Shared-Initialize).