Trail: Learning the Java Language
Lesson: Classes and Objects
Section: Nested Classes
Inner Class Example
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Inner Class Example

To see an inner class in use, let's first consider an array. In the following example, we will create an array, fill it with integer values and then output only values of even indices of the array in ascending order.

The DataStructure class below consists of:


public class DataStructure {
    // create an array
    private final static int SIZE = 15;
    private int[] arrayOfInts = new int[SIZE];
    
    public DataStructure() {
        // fill the array with ascending integer values
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            arrayOfInts[i] = i;
        }
    }
    
    public void printEven() {
        // print out values of even indices of the array
        InnerEvenIterator iterator = this.new InnerEvenIterator();
        while (iterator.hasNext()) {
            System.out.println(iterator.getNext() + " ");
        }
    }
    
    // inner class implements the Iterator pattern
    private class InnerEvenIterator {
        // start stepping through the array from the beginning
        private int next = 0;
        
        public boolean hasNext() {
            // check if a current element is the last in the array
            return (next <= SIZE - 1);
        }
        
        public int getNext() {
            // record a value of an even index of the array
            int retValue = arrayOfInts[next];
            //get the next even element
            next += 2;
            return retValue;
        }
    }
    
    public static void main(String s[]) {
        // fill the array with integer values and print out only
        // values of even indices
        DataStructure ds = new DataStructure();
        ds.printEven();
    }
}

The output is:

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 

Note that the InnerEvenIterator class refers directly to the arrayOfInts instance variable of the DataStructure object.

Inner classes can be used to implement helper classes like the one shown in the example above. If you plan on handling user-interface events, you will need to know how to use inner classes because the event-handling mechanism makes extensive use of them.

Local and Anonymous Inner Classes

There are two additional types of inner classes. You can declare an inner class within the body of a method. Such a class is known as a local inner class. You can also declare an inner class within the body of a method without naming it. These classes are known as anonymous inner classes. You will encounter such classes in advanced Java programming.

Modifiers

You can use the same modifiers for inner classes that you use for other members of the outer class. For example, you can use the access specifiers — private, public, and protected — to restrict access to inner classes, just as you do to other class members.


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