Definition of Accessor

In technology, an accessor is a method or function used to retrieve and manipulate the values of an object’s attributes or properties. It allows for controlled access and modification, adhering to the principles of encapsulation and data hiding in object-oriented programming. Accessors typically include getter and setter methods, which respectively retrieve or modify an attribute’s value without directly exposing the internal data to external code.


The phonetic spelling of the keyword “Accessor” is /əkˈsɛsər/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Accessors are methods that enable reading and/or writing the values of an object’s properties.
  2. There are two types of accessors: Getters (for reading property values) and Setters (for changing property values)
  3. Using accessors can improve code readability, maintainability, and enable additional functionality like input validation.

Importance of Accessor

The term “accessor” is important in technology because it plays a crucial role in maintaining proper programming practices, specifically in terms of encapsulation and data privacy.

Accessors are methods or functions within an object-oriented programming language that allow users to safely access the properties or attributes of an object, while keeping the actual data hidden and protected from unauthorized manipulation.

By providing a controlled interface for retrieving or modifying an object’s attributes, accessors promote well-structured and maintainable code, reducing the risk of inadvertent changes and potential errors.

This ultimately leads to increased software reliability and security, and contributes to the overall efficiency and success of software development.


In the realm of software development, accessors serve as integral components that facilitate the interaction between an object’s internal data and the external code. They constitute a barrier that further streamlines and fortifies the process of data retrieval from objects while ensuring their utmost security and integrity.

Accessors, widely recognized as getter methods, play a vital role in preserving an object’s internal state and preventing unauthorized access, allowing developers to maintain control over data accessibility. This ultimately enhances the overall modularity and readability of the code since programmers can precisely determine the extent of data exposure.

Accessor methods are instrumental in maintaining the principles of object-oriented programming, specifically encapsulation – the practice of bundling data and methods operating on it within a single, coherent unit. By eliminating direct contact with an object’s properties, accessors enable developers to customize how data is retrieved from an object.

Moreover, they help preserve the adaptability and maintainability of the system, as programmers can modify the internal implementation of an object without interfering with its external behavior. Consequently, accessors foster a cleaner and more manageable code structure, contributing to the optimization of complex programs and promoting efficient software development.

Examples of Accessor

The term “accessor” in technology usually refers to a method, function, or procedure in an object-oriented programming language that grants access to an object’s internal properties from outside the object. Accessors (also called Getter functions) allow developers to ensure data encapsulation and proper handling of object properties without direct exposure. Here are three real-world examples where accessors are used:

Banking Software:In a banking system, an Account class may have a property called ‘balance,’ which represents the balance of the bank account. An accessor (getter function) might be used to return the value of this property so that other parts of the software can access the balance without directly exposing the property. This ensures that the balance’s value can only be modified by authorized methods within the Account class.

Online Shopping System:An online shopping cart may have a Cart class with properties such as items and total cost. Accessors would be implemented to safely access these properties from other parts of the system. For example, a user’s cart’s total cost can be displayed using a getTotalCost() accessor that returns the total cost of the items in the cart without allowing unauthorized manipulation of that value.

Video Game Character:Consider a video game character that has attributes such as health points and movement speed. If the game code requires access to these attributes without altering their values directly, an accessor would be used to get those values. For instance, a getHealthPoints() method may be used to retrieve the current health of the character, while a getMovementSpeed() accessor might be used to get the character’s movement speed. This helps maintain proper data integrity and consistency within the game code.

Accessor FAQ

What is an accessor in programming?

An accessor, also known as a getter, is a method in object-oriented programming that allows you to retrieve the value of an object’s attribute. Accessors are used to implement encapsulation, one of the fundamental principles of OOP, ensuring that the object’s internal state remains hidden from the outside world, and can only be accessed or altered using predefined methods.

Why use accessors instead of directly accessing the attribute?

Using accessors is preferred over directly accessing an attribute because it upholds the principle of encapsulation, which helps maintain the integrity of an object’s internal state. Accessors provide control over how the attribute values are retrieved, allowing the developer to change the internal logic without affecting the external interface. This results in better maintainability and adaptability, while preventing unintentional modifications to the attributes.

How do you create an accessor in a programming language?

Creating an accessor varies depending on the programming language you are using. Here’s an example using Java:

class Employee {
  private String name;

  public String getName() {
    return name;

In this example, the Employee class has a private attribute ‘name’ and an accessor method ‘getName()’ that returns its value.

What is the difference between an accessor and a mutator?

An accessor (getter) is a method used to retrieve the value of an attribute, while a mutator (setter) is a method used to set or modify the value of an attribute. Accessors ensure the object’s internal state remains hidden and are read-only in nature, whereas mutators allow for controlled modification of the object’s state.

Can you use both accessor and mutator for the same attribute?

Yes, you can use both an accessor and a mutator for the same attribute. This provides a controlled way to get and set the attribute value while adhering to the principles of encapsulation. In this case, the accessor allows you to read the attribute value, while the mutator allows you to modify it based on predefined criteria or conditions.

Related Technology Terms

  • Getter Method
  • Setter Method
  • Encapsulation
  • Member Variables
  • Property

Sources for More Information

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