Tag Archives: Java

Overriding and overloading in Java and .NET – differences, changes and gotchas

Foraying even more in the fundamentals of Java (coming from a .NET background) I’ve come across some interesting things, along with changes in Java SE 5. But first let’s clear up a bit these two notions (overloading and overriding).

Overriding

Is a language feature that allows a subclass/inheriting class to have a method identical (we’ll later see a slight exception to this) to the one in the base class/superclass in every way except the implementation. That is, to have the same return type, the same name, same paramater types, same parameter order, just the code (and the parameter names) can differ.

This is by no means a definitive definition, Wikipedia, .NET CLS’s and JLS may very well differ slightly.

A typical C# overriding example (yes, I also dislike animal examples but they are so eaaaasyyyy to come up with) :

public class Dog 
{
    public virtual void MakeSound()
    {
         Console.WriteLine("Bark.");
    }
}

public class Hound : Dog
{
    public override void MakeSound()
    {
         Console.WriteLine("Wooofff!!!");
    }
}

Java developers unaware of the intricacies of C# will wonder what is that “virtual” thing. In C# all methods are “final” (sealed) by default unlike Java where methods are “virtual” (non-final / non-sealed) by default. This is a profound difference which we’ll discuss later. The “:” stands for “extends”. We’ll discuss the “override” keyword soon, also.

The equivalent piece of code in Java would look like :

public class Dog {
    public void makeSound() {
        System.out.println("Bark.");
    }
}

public class Hound extends Dog {
    public void makeSound() {
        System.out.println("Woofff!!!");
    }
}

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Numeric literals in Java 7 and in C#

In both Java and C# it’s quite easy to express integer numerical literals. You can use both decimal and hexadecimal base to represent the value. Only for the hexadecimal base you need to prefix the value with 0x. For decimal base values that exceed 2^31-1 you need to provide a suffix (typically L) specifying this fact so the compiler will treat it like a long integer value. C# also provides unsigned long values (U prefix). In both languages the casing of the suffix does not matter.

Java : (notice, there are no unsigned primitives in Java)

int i1 = 23; // integer, decimal
int h1 = 0x17; // integer, hexadecimal
long i2 = 12345678900L; // long integer (64 bit signed integer)

C# :

int i1 = 23;
int h1 = 0x17;
ulong u1 = 12345678900U;
long i2 = 12345678900L;

As you might have read in Beginning Java for .NET developers on slide 14, beginning in Java 7 you can also use two more features, that are not present in C# (at least at the time of this writing) :

Binary base :

int b1 = 0b11001010;

Underscores in literals (no matter which base) :

int b1 = 0b1100_1010;
long myCardNumber = 2315_2432_2111_1110;
int thousandsSeparated = 123_456_000;

The restrictions on the underscore placing is that you may not place it at the beginning of the value (prefix) or at the end (suffix). Also, for non-integer literals, you may not place it adjacent to the decimal separator.

For floating-point literals you must use the dot as decimal separator (if you need to specify a fraction, if not, you’re not required). You must use F for float-single-precision (32 bit) and D for float-double-precision (64 bit). Moreover in C# you have also the M suffix corresponding to the decimal (128 bit) value type.

C# :

float x1 = 0.001F;
double x2 = 12.33D;
decimal x3 = 111.2M;
float x4 = 33F;

Java :

float f1 = 0.001F;
double f2 = 12.31D;
float f3 = 123F;

Avoid comparing strings with == in Java

While beginning development in Java, especially if coming from a .NET background (but not necessarily) you might do string comparison with == in Java. Don’t do it. It will compare the string instances and not their effective value.
You might even try it first to check if == really works, testing it in a wrong manner like so :

public static void main(String[] args) {

    String s1 = "Abc";
    String s2 = "Abc";

    System.out.println("s1 == s2 -> " + (s1 == s2));
}

This will output

s1 == s2 -> true

.. which might lead you to believe this works. This does return the correct value because of a feature present in Java and .NET called string interning (not specific to Java or .NET).

Try to obtain a string instance dynamically like concatenating two existing instances and see how things don’t work anymore :

public static void main(String[] args) {

    String s1 = "Abc";
    String s2 = "Abc";

    // new lines :
    String capitalA = "A";
    String bc = "bc";
    String s3 = capitalA + bc;

    System.out.println("s1 == s2 -> " + (s1 == s2));
    // new line :
    System.out.println("s1 == s3 -> " + (s1 == s3));
}
s1 == s2 -> true
s1 == s3 -> false

Weird, huh? That’s because at compile time there are four distinct strings generated : “Abc” (once, even if referred twice), “A” and “bc”. The “Abc” instance obtained by joining “A” and “bc” will be generated at runtime and, of course, it will be a different instance than the first “Abc” instance. That’s why the result of the == operator comparison will be false.
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Simulating C# ref parameter in Java

As I was saying a few posts ago (Beginning Java for .NET Developers), on the 8th slide, there are no ref and no out method parameter modifiers.

These are rarely used in .NET anyway so you can’t really complain of their lack in Java. Furthermore, some of their legitimate uses, such as the static TryParse methods on value types are not applicable in Java. Why? Because in Java the primitives (int, long, byte etc. – the equivalent of the basic value types in .NET) are not part of the type hierarchy and they have reference-type wrappers (Integer etc.) which would solve the issue of returning the result in case of ‘TryParse’ style of parsing. How’s that? It’s like :

public static Integer tryParseInt(String intString) {
    try {
        return Integer.parseInt(intString);
    } catch (NumberFormatException e) {
        return null;
    }
}

No need for a ‘out’ parameter or ‘ref’. But! Let’s try and simulate ‘ref’ using a generic class written this way :

public class Ref<T> {
    private T value;

    public Ref() {
    }

    public Ref(T value) {
        this.value = value;
    }

    public T getValue() {
        return value;
    }

    public void setValue(T value) {
        this.value = value;
    }

    @Override
    public String toString() {
        return value == null ? null : value.toString();
    }
}

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Preparing the development environment for Java – Windows and Ubuntu

Unlike .NET development where everything is streamlined and well-aligned, starting from the OS, the framework, the tools, the IDE and all others being written by one company, in Java development you’ll experience “freedom”(1) of choice. I’ll start with a gentle introduction which the experienced may very well skip to avoid getting bored.

In order to get started developing in Java we’ll need the following :

  1. An OS. I’ll showcase Windows and Ubuntu (Linux).
  2. A Java JRE. This is the most basic component required to run Java programs.
  3. A Java JDK. The JDK or Java SDK (IBM calls it that way) typically includes the JRE plus a compiler, tools for running various types of Java programs, packaging tools, extra class libraries and many more.
  4. An IDEIntegrated Development Environment. This is typically an MDI (Multi-Document Interface) application which provides certain convenience features for the developer :
    • Syntax highlighting – keywords are displayed in a certain color, local variables in another etc.
    • Code completion – instead of having to type the whole keyword, or class identifier, a member and so on, an autocompletion prompt will appear (usually triggered by the user typing a dot or other notable event) easing your typing and avoiding typos.
    • Interactive debugging – Allowing the user to control the execution of the program by inserting breakpoints, stepping over, into or out of code, watching expressions (variables, fields etc.), modifying internal data or even (very few IDEs allow) stepping back.
    • Tracing – in case you need to inspect internal data but breaking into the debugger cancels the bug or triggers other unwanted condition or the data changes too fast, you can watch expressions in a specially designed tool window without interrupting the flow of the debugged program
    • Source control integration – allows the user to send/push/checkin/etc changes to file(s) into a repository, obtaining the latest version, comparing versions, merging, branching and many more operations
    • Visual designers – For UI modules or elements most IDEs offer some kind of preview of the developed interface, showing the developer pretty much how things will look and behave without needing to recompile, run and browsing to that particular interface
    • Packaging and deployment – Features for creating a package of the application, be it JAR, WAR, DLL, ZIP, APK etc. Furthermore many IDEs will help you push a site to a webhosting provider, cloud service and so on.
    • .. and a whole lot more but let’s try to keep things shorter

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Beginning Java for .NET Developers

I’ve always wanted to learn another language and platform and being a long-time .NET developer Java seemed the closest to my knowledge and one which would seem easy to learn based on what I already knew.

I’ve put off this for various reason along the last 3-4 years, most of which laziness was chief.

Recently some colleagues moved from our project to another project that involves Java modules and since .NET is not a first-class citizen in my employer’s eyes I thought maybe it could serve me as a kind of an ‘insurance’ – to learn Java.

I’ve obtained (..) some ebooks (Effective Java and Thinking in Java), downloaded JDK, a few IDEs (IntelliJ IDEA and NetBeans, no Eclipse for me, thanks) and started doing HelloWorld’s and stuff like that. I noticed JavaFX (which is quite similar to WPF on which I currently work)

I’ve came across two nice comparisons of Java and .NET, written in a constructive manner (i.e. not “mine is better, na nanana”) :

Using these two articles I compiled (yes, that’s the original meaning of the word :P ) a PowerPoint slideshow.

Then I thought there might be other (.NET developer) colleagues that might be interested in my research and gave an internal presentation based on the slideshow and expanding each item by talk.

I thought I should share it with everyone so here it is (download here) :

I’ve written about Java / C# differences before, and I might continue that series in the near future, with practical examples and counter-examples.

Some more Android development peculiarities

There is a baked in logging class called, intuitively, Log. For some strange reason the authors chose to name its methods, most of them, with one letter. That is :

Log.d(..); // debug level
Log.e(..); // error level
...

Until you hit

...
Log.wtf(..);
...

This one’s funny and I appreciate their sense of humor as it goes up to renaming WTF to “What a Terrible Failure”. Like we’re so dumb that we can’t figure what they really had in mind :P

Another peculiarity is that in an activity (this akin to a Page / Form / whatever) you have some methods that you can/should override such as onCreate(). Everywhere is stated that the first thing you should write in the overriding method is a call to the super (that is base) class’s method. If it is really all that important and vital why didn’t the class designers go with a template method in first place?

That is a design pattern, that in this case, would go like so :

public class Activity {

    // ...

    private void onCreateInternal(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        //vital stuff
        onCreate(savedInstanceState);
    }

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    }

    // ...

}

Take note of another difference between C# and Java : the methods and classes are virtual/unsealed by default. So the onCreate method in my example above is overrideable in any subclass. Also in Java terminology the base class is called the superclass.

Other differences of terminology include :

  • A namespace is called a package
  • By default an import (which is akin to a using directive) imports by default just the specified type and not the whole package (namespace). You need to use a wildcard to import the whole package
  • The closest thing to an assembly is called a JAR (Java ARchive).
  • Eclipse by default is set to autocompile. That is whenever you hit CTRL-S (Save) to a Java file the project is (re)compiled. This sounds terrible but it isn’t! You can’t even notice. Either there is an incremental compilation either the performance of the compiler is incredible.
  • Unlike Visual Studio, Eclipse presents the import block collapsed by default. I wish I had this in VS… Just like a mobile app fan would say “there’s an app for that”, I bet for VS “there’s a plugin for that” :P
  • In Java if you want to call the super (base) class’s constructor from the current class’s constructor you will write “super(…);” in the constructor’s body. When I first saw this I said to myself Fu-Kin-Su-Pa (er… “great”, that is). “Now I have the liberty to call the base/super constructor from wherever inside the constructor I want”. Well, no. It’s either the first line or it isn’t.

Well, I’ll rant more as I go learning Android development.

My goal is to get to know enough so I can do it in Xamarin via C# but first I must understand the underlying things in order to go a level of abstraction above.

In the next episode(s) : I am indebted with a follow-up from my presentation held at RONUA last year.

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