More about Java Classes Writing your own Java Classes More about constructors and creating objects

Download More about Java Classes Writing your own Java Classes More about constructors and creating objects

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What are Java Classes? Classes are templates They encapsulate data (variables) and behaviour (methods) Variables can either be primitive (int, char etc) or reference types (String etc)

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<p>More about Java Classes Writing your own Java Classes More about constructors and creating objects Java Objects We can define our own types using the Java keyword class Your understanding and use of Classes/objects is fundamental to getting to grips with Java It is also the biggest climb on the learning curve - so be patient What are Java Classes? Classes are templates They encapsulate data (variables) and behaviour (methods) Variables can either be primitive (int, char etc) or reference types (String etc) Classes and Objects there is a difference An object is an occurrence (or instance) of a Class The Class describes the blueprint or template An object is made from a class For an Employee class, each employee would be an object with the data and method structure of the class Although the structure is the same for all objects built from this class, the values held within the data can be different How to Create objects from a class? The new keyword is used to create an instance of a class - an object reference Employee JonWestlake = new Employee( ); new is the ONLY way to create objects** See examples Employee1.java - a single class with one object Employee2.java - a single class with two objects Employee3.java - a single class with many objects What does that new statement mean? Employee JonWestlake = new Employee( ); Declares a reference variable of type Employee So JonWestlake does have a memory location but no pointer to an object yet - essentially a null object Breakdown of new statement Right hand side = new Employee( ); Creates an object of the Employee class We could have done the statements in two stages; Employee JonWestlake; JonWestlake = new Employee( ); What is an object reference? Think of a reference as a name for an object - JonWestlake is the name of a an Employee object Employee JonWestlake = new Employee( ); reference names can be meaningful as in this case or as we can see with the Employee application Object references It is legal for two references (or more) to refer to the same object e.g. in the Employee example we might wish to refer to the object via some initials as well Employee JonWestlake = new Employee( ); Employee jcw = JonWestlake; jcw refers to the same Employee as JonWestlake What does new do? - memory new takes the memory it needs to create an object from a special memory pool that Java controls automatically, called the heap All class objects in Java come from the heap Java allocates enough memory to hold the object Java allocates memory for objects when the object is created, not at application start up What does new do? - constructor Java initialises any instance variables to default values - default constructor Java makes calls to any constructors that exist for that class So, what is a constructor? Content of Constructors Constructors are a special method used to initialise an object created for a class The name is the same as the class, so starts with a capital letter Constructor can do anything a normal method can do** No return type - not even void The constructor does not contain a return statement Content of Constructor Like any method a constructor can include arguments. These arguments indicate to the constructor how to set up the initial values for the data fields of an object See Employee2 for example What happens if we dont use a Constructor? Every class has a single default constructor with no parameters The default constructor takes no arguments and does nothing other than initialize all object variables to their zero or null state As soon as the developer defines a constructor then the default constructor is no longer used What should a Constructor do? Creating objects to a valid starting state according to content of the constructor and arguments passed into the constructor they are usually used to simply initialize variables within the object to some starting value or they could be used to add objects to a linked list or increment an object count What should the Constructor do? We advise you not to place instance style functionality within the constructor Use the constructor to initialize an instance - keeps it simple and maintainable! Overloading the Constructor A class is free to have more than one constructor The constructors must have different argument signatures Often one root constructor has all the program logic for construction Other constructors set a few defaults and then call the root constructor Example Overloaded Constructor Item(String itemDesc) {Item(itemDesc, 0); } Item(String itemDesc, int itemWght) {description = itemDesc; weight = itemWght; } new operator for Item class The first example of the constructor sets the item weight to 0 and passes this information on to the full constructor Item defaultItem = new Item(General Stock); Alternatively, you could call the second constructor directly Item specifyItem = new Item(Widgets, 50); Overloading Constructors - Tips Place all the initialisation code in a root constructor Root constructor is usually the constructor with the most parameters define convenience constructors with fewer parameters - these constructors call the root constructor using default values for the parameters which the user has not provided See Employee5.java example Using a test to drive the choice of constructor We can ask the user something Based on the user input, we can test the input and select the constructor appropriate to the input See VideoEx1.java or Employee5.java Invoking one Constructor from another One constructor can invoke another constructor of the same class using the this keyword this - a special (pseudo) variable pseudo means the value is changed by the system not the developer a reference to the object within which a constructor is executing useful as it enables messages to this the current object to be performed - see VideoEx2.java Running the Constructor Constructors do not have an explicit keyword to mark them as such and they cannot be called like a normal method see Employee1, Employee2 and Employee3 Where to position the constructor? Position the constructor either before the main method (if there is one for the class) or after the main method see the examples Each constructor is defined separately i.e. not nested Constructor access modifiers The access modifiers are exactly the same as for classes - public or nothing** Modifier must be public if classes outside of the current package need to be able to use the object being defined - design issue if public is not used then constructor is only available within the package to which the class belongs - for our work this is usually the case Destructors! There is NO destructor in Java In C++ a destructor is used to return memory to heap of available memory Java manages memory automatically via the constructor and automatically returns memory when objects are abandoned Summary We have looked further at classes We have investigated the role of the constructor Practical get the examples running and write your own versions!</p>