# callNextMethod

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##### Call an Inherited Method

A call to callNextMethod can only appear inside a method definition. It then results in a call to the first inherited method after the current method, with the arguments to the current method passed down to the next method. The value of that method call is the value of callNextMethod.

Keywords
classes, methods, programming
##### Usage
callNextMethod(...)
##### Arguments
...
Optionally, the arguments to the function in its next call (but note that the dispatch is as in the detailed description below; the arguments have no effect on selecting the next method.)

If no arguments are included in the call to callNextMethod, the effect is to call the method with the current arguments. See the detailed description for what this really means.

Calling with no arguments is often the natural way to use callNextMethod; see the examples.

##### Details

The ‘next’ method (i.e., the first inherited method) is defined to be that method which would have been called if the current method did not exist. This is more-or-less literally what happens: The current method (to be precise, the method with signature given by the defined slot of the method from which callNextMethod is called) is deleted from a copy of the methods for the current generic, and selectMethod is called to find the next method (the result is cached in a special object, so the search only typically happens once per session per combination of argument classes).

Note that the preceding definition means that the next method is defined uniquely when setMethod inserts the method containing the callNextMethod call, given the definitions of the classes in the signature. The choice does not depend on the path that gets us to that method (for example, through inheritance or from another callNextMethod call). This definition was not enforced in versions of R prior to 2.3.0, where the method was selected based on the target signature, and so could vary depending on the actual arguments.

It is also legal, and often useful, for the method called by callNextMethod to itself have a call to callNextMethod. This generally works as you would expect, but for completeness be aware that it is possible to have ambiguous inheritance in the S structure, in the sense that the same two classes can appear as superclasses in the opposite order in two other class definitions. In this case the effect of a nested instance of callNextMethod is not well defined. Such inconsistent class hierarchies are both rare and nearly always the result of bad design, but they are possible, and currently undetected.

The statement that the method is called with the current arguments is more precisely as follows. Arguments that were missing in the current call are still missing (remember that "missing" is a valid class in a method signature). For a formal argument, say x, that appears in the original call, there is a corresponding argument in the next method call equivalent to x = x. In effect, this means that the next method sees the same actual arguments, but arguments are evaluated only once.

##### Value

The value returned by the selected method.

##### References

Chambers, John M. (2008) Software for Data Analysis: Programming with R Springer. (For the R version.)

Chambers, John M. (1998) Programming with Data Springer (For the original S4 version.)

callGeneric to call the generic function with the current dispatch rules (typically for a group generic function); Methods for the general behavior of method dispatch.
library(methods)  ## some class definitions with simple inheritance setClass("B0" , representation(b0 = "numeric")) setClass("B1", representation(b1 = "character"), contains = "B0") setClass("B2", representation(b2 = "logical"), contains = "B1") ## and a rather silly function to illustrate callNextMethod f <- function(x) class(x) setMethod("f", "B0", function(x) c(x@b0^2, callNextMethod())) setMethod("f", "B1", function(x) c(paste(x@b1,":"), callNextMethod())) setMethod("f", "B2", function(x) c(x@b2, callNextMethod())) b1 <- new("B1", b0 = 2, b1 = "Testing") b2 <- new("B2", b2 = FALSE, b1 = "More testing", b0 = 10) f(b2) stopifnot(identical(f(b2), c(b2@b2, paste(b2@b1,":"), b2@b0^2, "B2"))) f(b1) ## a sneakier method: the *changed* x is used: setMethod("f", "B2", function(x) {x@b0 <- 111; c(x@b2, callNextMethod())}) f(b2) stopifnot(identical(f(b2), c(b2@b2, paste(b2@b1,":"), 111^2, "B2")))