Why objects and interfaces?

Allan Heydon on comp.lang.modula3, May 4th 1993:

Modula-3 provides two separate mechanisms for data-hiding: one for hiding details about how interfaces are implemented, and the other for hiding details about how objects are implemented.

The first data-hiding mechanism is realized by the distinction between interfaces and modules. Clients can only import interfaces, so the names declared in the modules implementing those interfaces are hidden from clients. Note that this mechanism has only two levels; a name is either declared in an interface, or it isn't. If a name is only declared in a module, it can't be used by a client.

The second data-hiding mechanism is realized by opaque types and revelations. A Modula-3 interface may declare an object type to be opaque, in which case only a subset of the fields and methods of that object are revealed to clients importing the interface. Furthermore, the Modula-3 revelation mechanism allows a designer to reveal successively more fields and methods of an object in a series of interfaces. The fields and methods visible to a client then depends on which interfaces the client imports.

The latter mechanism is quite flexible. As opposed to the interface/module data-hiding mechanism, opaque types allow you to define an arbitrary number of levels at which more and more information about the implementation of your object is revealed.

See Sections 2.2.10, 2.4.6, and 2.4.7 of "Systems Programming with Modula-3" for more information about opaque types and about partial and complete revelations.