The TechGuy

August 12, 2011

Java 7 – Language Enhancements (Part 2)

Filed under: Framework/APIs,Java — Zeeshan Bilal @ 5:55 PM

Previously (in Part 1), we had learned the basic enhancements of Java 7, which includes Binary Literals, Underscores in Numeric Literals, Strings in switch Statements and Type Inference for Generic Instance Creation. Here we will take a look at exception handling updates like try-with-resources statement, catching multiple exceptions in single catch and more. Lets continue our topic:

The try-with-resources Statement

The try-with-resources statement is a try statement that declares one or more resources. A resource is as an object that must be closed after the program is finished with it. The try-with-resources statement ensures that each resource is closed at the end of the statement. Any object that implements java.lang.AutoCloseable, which includes all objects which implement java.io.Closeable, can be used as a resource.

The following example reads the first line from a file. It uses an instance of BufferedReader to read data from the file. BufferedReader is a resource that must be closed after the program is finished with it:


 
static String readFirstLineFromFileWithFinallyBlock(String path) throws IOException { BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(path)); try { return br.readLine(); } finally { if (br != null) br.close(); } }
 

As we can use a finally block to ensure that a resource is closed regardless of whether the try statement completes normally or abruptly. Java SE 7, provides a new try-with-resources statement to perform the same operation with better managibility:


 
static String readFirstLineFromFile(String path) throws IOException { try (BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(path))) { return br.readLine(); } }
 

In this example, the resource declared in the try-with-resources statement is a BufferedReader. The declaration statement appears within parentheses immediately after the try keyword. The class BufferedReader, in Java SE 7 and later, implements the interface java.lang.AutoCloseable. Because the BufferedReader instance is declared in a try-with-resources statement, it will be closed regardless of whether the try statement completes normally or abruptly (as a result of the method BufferedReader.readLine throwing an IOException).

However, in the first example, if the methods readLine and close both throw exceptions, then the method readFirstLineFromFileWithFinallyBlock throws the exception thrown from the finally block; the exception thrown from the try block is suppressed. In contrast, in the example readFirstLineFromFile, if exceptions are thrown from both the try block and the try-with-resources statement, then the method readFirstLineFromFile throws the exception thrown from the try block; the exception thrown from the try-with-resources block is suppressed. In Java SE 7 and later, you can retrieve suppressed exceptions.

You may declare one or more resources in a try-with-resources statement. The following example retrieves the names of the files packaged in the zip file zipFileName and creates a text file that contains the names of these files:


 
public static void writeToFileZipFileContents(String zipFileName, String outputFileName) throws java.io.IOException { java.nio.charset.Charset charset = java.nio.charset.Charset.forName("US-ASCII"); java.nio.file.Path outputFilePath = java.nio.file.Paths.get(outputFileName); // Open zip file and create output file with try-with-resources statement try ( java.util.zip.ZipFile zf = new java.util.zip.ZipFile(zipFileName); java.io.BufferedWriter writer = java.nio.file.Files.newBufferedWriter(outputFilePath, charset) ) { // Enumerate each entry for (java.util.Enumeration entries = zf.entries(); entries.hasMoreElements();) { // Get the entry name and write it to the output file String newLine = System.getProperty("line.separator"); String zipEntryName = ((java.util.zip.ZipEntry)entries.nextElement()).getName() + newLine; writer.write(zipEntryName, 0, zipEntryName.length()); } } }
 

In this example, the try-with-resources statement contains two declarations that are separated by a semicolon: ZipFile and BufferedWriter. When the block of code that directly follows it terminates, either normally or because of an exception, the close methods of the BufferedWriter and ZipFile objects are automatically called in this order. Note that the close methods of resources are called in the opposite order of their creation.

The following example uses a try-with-resources statement to automatically close a java.sql.Statement object:


 
public static void viewTable(Connection con) throws SQLException { String query = "select COF_NAME, SUP_ID, PRICE, SALES, TOTAL from COFFEES"; try (Statement stmt = con.createStatement()) { ResultSet rs = stmt.executeQuery(query); while (rs.next()) { String coffeeName = rs.getString("COF_NAME"); int supplierID = rs.getInt("SUP_ID"); float price = rs.getFloat("PRICE"); int sales = rs.getInt("SALES"); int total = rs.getInt("TOTAL"); System.out.println(coffeeName + ", " + supplierID + ", " + price + ", " + sales + ", " + total); } } catch (SQLException e) { JDBCTutorialUtilities.printSQLException(e); } }
 

The resource java.sql.Statement used in this example is part of the JDBC 4.1 and later API.

Note: A try-with-resources statement can have catch and finally blocks just like an ordinary try statement. In a try-with-resources statement, any catch or finally block is run after the resources declared have been closed.

Handling More Than One Type of Exception

In Java SE 7 and later, a single catch block can handle more than one type of exception. This feature can reduce code duplication and lessen the temptation to catch an overly broad exception.

Consider the following example, which contains duplicate code in each of the catch blocks:


 
catch (IOException ex) { logger.log(ex); throw ex; catch (SQLException ex) { logger.log(ex); throw ex; }
 

In releases prior to Java SE 7, it is difficult to create a common method to eliminate the duplicated code because the variable ex has different types.

The following example, which is valid in Java SE 7 and later, eliminates the duplicated code:


 
catch (IOException|SQLException ex) { logger.log(ex); throw ex; }
 

The catch clause specifies the types of exceptions that the block can handle, and each exception type is separated with a vertical bar (|).

Note: If a catch block handles more than one exception type, then the catch parameter is implicitly final. In this example, the catch parameter ex is final and therefore you cannot assign any values to it within the catch block.

Bytecode generated by compiling a catch block that handles multiple exception types will be smaller (and thus superior) than compiling many catch blocks that handle only one exception type each. A catch block that handles multiple exception types creates no duplication in the bytecode generated by the compiler; the bytecode has no replication of exception handlers.

Rethrowing Exceptions with More Inclusive Type Checking

The Java SE 7 compiler performs more precise analysis of rethrown exceptions than earlier releases of Java SE. This enables you to specify more specific exception types in the throws clause of a method declaration.

Consider the following example:


 
static class FirstException extends Exception { } static class SecondException extends Exception { } public void rethrowException(String exceptionName) throws Exception { try { if (exceptionName.equals("First")) { throw new FirstException(); } else { throw new SecondException(); } } catch (Exception e) { throw e; } }
 

This examples’s try block could throw either FirstException or SecondException. Suppose you want to specify these exception types in the throws clause of the rethrowException method declaration. In releases prior to Java SE 7, you cannot do so. Because the exception parameter of the catch clause, e, is type Exception, and the catch block rethrows the exception parameter e, you can only specify the exception type Exception in the throws clause of the rethrowException method declaration.

However, in Java SE 7, you can specify the exception types FirstException and SecondException in the throws clause in the rethrowException method declaration. The Java SE 7 compiler can determine that the exception thrown by the statement throw e must have come from the try block, and the only exceptions thrown by the try block can be FirstException and SecondException. Even though the exception parameter of the catch clause, e, is type Exception, the compiler can determine that it is an instance of either FirstException or SecondException:


 
public void rethrowException(String exceptionName) throws FirstException, SecondException { try { // ... } catch (Exception e) { throw e; } }
 

This analysis is disabled if the catch parameter is assigned to another value in the catch block. However, if the catch parameter is assigned to another value, you must specify the exception type Exception in the throws clause of the method declaration.

In detail, in Java SE 7 and later, when you declare one or more exception types in a catch clause, and rethrow the exception handled by this catch block, the compiler verifies that the type of the rethrown exception meets the following conditions:

  • The try block is able to throw it.
  • There are no other preceding catch blocks that can handle it.
  • It is a subtype or supertype of one of the catch clause’s exception parameters.

The Java SE 7 compiler allows you to specify the exception types FirstException and SecondException in the throws clause in the rethrowException method declaration because you can rethrow an exception that is a supertype of any of the types declared in the throws.

In releases prior to Java SE 7, you cannot throw an exception that is a supertype of one of the catch clause’s exception parameters. A compiler from a release prior to Java SE 7 generates the error, “unreported exception Exception; must be caught or declared to be thrown” at the statement throw e. The compiler checks if the type of the exception thrown is assignable to any of the types declared in the throws clause of the rethrowException method declaration. However, the type of the catch parameter e is Exception, which is a supertype, not a subtype, of FirstException andSecondException.

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