Sunday, June 30, 2013

Java Collections Framework Part 2 - Basics

This is the sixth part of the tutorial, and this link goes to the previous post java collections framework part 1

Iterator

An iterator is an object that implements the interface java.util.Iterator, it has three methods hasNext(), next() and remove().
Iterators are used to traverse or access a collection in a standard way, the java.util.Collection interface provides the iterator() method so any collection that implements this interface provides a way to return an iterator.

Example:
 Iterator it = collection.iterator() ;  
 while( it.hasNext() ) {  
  System.out.println(it.next());  
 }  

Iterable

The java.lang.Iterable interface was introduced in Java 5, it just has the iterator() method and
the java.util.Collection interface extends from this interface. The Iterable interface is used in the foreach statement in this way, any class that implements the Iterable interface could be used in the foreach statement.
The advantages of the foreach statement are that the code needed to traverse a collection is reduced and that no casts are needed to access the elements of a collection.

Example
 for(Object o : collection) {
  System.out.println(o);
}

In the example the code looks much more cleaner than before.

A precaution to take with iterators is that they are fail-fast, they check collection has not changed. If they detect a change, a java.util.ConcurrentModificationException exception is thrown.
This means if a collection is modified while it is being iterated a ConcurrentModificationException is thrown.

Generics and collections

Generics were introduced in Java 5, before that collections could hold any kind of object, there was no way to guarantee collection type.

Since collections could hold any type of object, there were no ways to prevente runtime errors such cast exceptions.

Example:
List list = new ArrayList();
list.add(new Person());
String s = (String) list.get(0);

The example would rise a ClassCastException.

With generics collections have a way to do a compile time check by enforcing the type of your collections. All what it needs is just place the type of the collection between angle brackets.

Example:
List <String> list = new ArrayList <String> ();
list.add(new Person());//Compiler error

Another advantage is that since the type is now specified at compile, then the cast for getting an element could be omitted because now the compiler can check if what you are doing is correct.

Example:
List <String> list = new ArrayList <String> ();
String s = list.get(0);

Also collection can be iterated in a for-each statement or with an Iterator with its own type without doing any cast.

Example:
for (String s : list) {
 ...
}
.....
Iterator it = collection.iterator() ;
while( it.hasNext() ) {
  String s = it.next();
}

There is a wildcard in collections and generics the “? “ question mark symbol, you have to be very careful if you used it has many behaviors and restrictions and I would recommend you to do a further research of it.

If it is used alone in a collection, it means it can hold any type of object, but you can not add any element to it, since the compiler doesn't know its exact type.

Example:
List <?> list = new ArrayList <String> ();  
list.add(“Hello world”);//compiler error  

If it is used with the extends keyword, it means it can hold any type that extends or implements the type specified, but still can not add elements to it, since the compiler doesn't know its exact type.

Example:
 List <? extends CharSequence> list = new ArrayList <String> ();//OK  
 List <? extends CharSequence> list = new ArrayList <StringBuffer> ();//OK  

If it is used with the super keyword, it means it can hold any super type of the type specified, in this case elements can be added but of the same type or subtype of the right element in the super expression.

Example:
 class Employee extends Person   
 .......  
 List <? super Employee> list = new ArrayList <Person> ();  
 list.add(new Employee);  

In the exapmle the class Employee extends Person, so the list can add any element of type Employee of a subtype of it.

Java 7 added type inference which says “You can replace the type arguments required to invoke the constructor of a generic class with an empty set of type parameters (<>) as long as the compiler can infer the type arguments from the context”.

Example
 List<String> list = new ArrayList<>();  
 list.add("A");//OK  

As I said before there are many other restrictions with generics so you better check them, before start using them.

The java.util.Collection interface

The Collection interface defines the core functionality of almost every collection, Maps are different.
It defines the following methods:

Adding Elements
boolean add(E e):Ensures that this collection contains the specified element (optional operation).
boolean addAll(Collection<? extends E> c): Adds all of the elements in the specified collection to this collection (optional operation).

Removing Elements
void clear():Removes all of the elements from this collection (optional operation).
boolean remove(Object o): Removes a single instance of the specified element from this collection, if it is present (optional operation).
boolean removeAll(Collection<?> c): Removes all of this collection's elements that are also contained in the specified collection (optional operation).
boolean retainAll(Collection<?> c): Retains only the elements in this collection that are contained in the specified collection (optional operation).

Contents of collection
boolean contains(Object o): Returns true if this collection contains the specified element.
boolean containsAll(Collection<?> c): Returns true if this collection contains all of the elements in the specified collection.
boolean isEmpty(): Returns true if this collection contains no elements.
int size(): Returns the number of elements in this collection.

Processing contents
Iterator<E> iterator(): Returns an iterator over the elements in this collection.
Object[] toArray(): Returns an array containing all of the elements in this collection.
<T> T[] toArray(T[] a): Returns an array containing all of the elements in this collection; the runtime type of the returned array is that of the specified array.

3 comments:

  1. Hai i need some help from you how you did this page with HTML Can u please help me i wanted to know

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Arul,
      This page has nothing special in it, I just created a new post through blogger, there you can add text, images, links and everything else, there is also the option to edit the html that is the way how I added the examples, now I'm using gist to format the code and create the scripts for the examples (https://gist.github.com/). I hope this can help you, if you want further info please ask me.

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