Trail: The Reflection API
Lesson: Classes
Examining Class Modifiers and Types
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Examining Class Modifiers and Types

A class may be declared with one or more modifiers which affect its runtime behavior:

Not all modifiers are allowed on all classes, for example an interface cannot be final and an enum cannot be abstract. java.lang.reflect.Modifier contains declarations for all possible modifiers. It also contains methods which may be used to decode the set of modifiers returned by Class.getModifiers().

The ClassDeclarationSpy example shows how to obtain the declaration components of a class including the modifiers, generic type parameters, implemented interfaces, and the inheritance path. Since Class implements the java.lang.reflect.AnnotatedElement interface it is also possible to query the runtime annotations.


import java.lang.annotation.Annotation;
import java.lang.reflect.Modifier;
import java.lang.reflect.Type;
import java.lang.reflect.TypeVariable;
import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;
import static java.lang.System.out;

public class ClassDeclarationSpy {
    public static void main(String... args) {
	try {
	    Class<?> c = Class.forName(args[0]);
	    out.format("Class:%n  %s%n%n", c.getCanonicalName());
	    out.format("Modifiers:%n  %s%n%n",
		       Modifier.toString(c.getModifiers()));

	    out.format("Type Parameters:%n");
	    TypeVariable[] tv = c.getTypeParameters();
	    if (tv.length != 0) {
		out.format("  ");
		for (TypeVariable t : tv)
		    out.format("%s ", t.getName());
		out.format("%n%n");
	    } else {
		out.format("  -- No Type Parameters --%n%n");
	    }

	    out.format("Implemented Interfaces:%n");
	    Type[] intfs = c.getGenericInterfaces();
	    if (intfs.length != 0) {
		for (Type intf : intfs)
		    out.format("  %s%n", intf.toString());
		out.format("%n");
	    } else {
		out.format("  -- No Implemented Interfaces --%n%n");
	    }

	    out.format("Inheritance Path:%n");
	    List<Class> l = new ArrayList<Class>();
	    printAncestor(c, l);
	    if (l.size() != 0) {
		for (Class<?> cl : l)
		    out.format("  %s%n", cl.getCanonicalName());
		out.format("%n");
	    } else {
		out.format("  -- No Super Classes --%n%n");
	    }

	    out.format("Annotations:%n");
	    Annotation[] ann = c.getAnnotations();
	    if (ann.length != 0) {
		for (Annotation a : ann)
		    out.format("  %s%n", a.toString());
		out.format("%n");
	    } else {
		out.format("  -- No Annotations --%n%n");
	    }

        // production code should handle this exception more gracefully
	} catch (ClassNotFoundException x) {
	    x.printStackTrace();
	}
    }

    private static void printAncestor(Class<?> c, List<Class> l) {
	Class<?> ancestor = c.getSuperclass();
 	if (ancestor != null) {
	    l.add(ancestor);
	    printAncestor(ancestor, l);
 	}
    }
}

A few samples of the output follows. User input is in italics.

$ java ClassDeclarationSpy java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentNavigableMap
Class:
  java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentNavigableMap

Modifiers:
  public abstract interface

Type Parameters:
  K V

Implemented Interfaces:
  java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentMap<K, V>
  java.util.NavigableMap<K, V>

Inheritance Path:
  -- No Super Classes --

Annotations:
  -- No Annotations --

This is the actual declaration for java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentNavigableMap in the source code:

public interface ConcurrentNavigableMap<K,V>
    extends ConcurrentMap<K,V>, NavigableMap<K,V>
Note that since this is an interface, it is implicitly abstract. The compiler adds this modifier for every interface. Also, this declaration contains two generic type parameters, K and V. The example code simply prints the names of these parameters, but is it possible to retrieve additional information about them using methods in java.lang.reflect.TypeVariable. Interfaces may also implement other interfaces as shown above.
$ java ClassDeclarationSpy "[Ljava.lang.String;"
Class:
  java.lang.String[]

Modifiers:
  public abstract final

Type Parameters:
  -- No Type Parameters --

Implemented Interfaces:
  interface java.lang.Cloneable
  interface java.io.Serializable

Inheritance Path:
  java.lang.Object

Annotations:
  -- No Annotations --

Since arrays are runtime objects, all of the type information is defined by the Java virtual machine. In particular, arrays implement Cloneable and java.io.Serializable and their direct superclass is always Object.

$ java ClassDeclarationSpy java.io.InterruptedIOException
Class:
  java.io.InterruptedIOException

Modifiers:
  public

Type Parameters:
  -- No Type Parameters --

Implemented Interfaces:
  -- No Implemented Interfaces --

Inheritance Path:
  java.io.IOException
  java.lang.Exception
  java.lang.Throwable
  java.lang.Object

Annotations:
  -- No Annotations --

From the inheritance path, it may be deduced that java.io.InterruptedIOException is a checked exception because RuntimeException is not present.

$ java ClassDeclarationSpy java.security.Identity
Class:
  java.security.Identity

Modifiers:
  public abstract

Type Parameters:
  -- No Type Parameters --

Implemented Interfaces:
  interface java.security.Principal
  interface java.io.Serializable

Inheritance Path:
  java.lang.Object

Annotations:
  @java.lang.Deprecated()

This output shows that java.security.Identity, a deprecated API, possesses the annotation java.lang.Deprecated. This may be used by reflective code to detect deprecated APIs.


Note: Not all annotations are available via reflection. Only those which have a java.lang.annotation.RetentionPolicy of RUNTIME are accessible. Of the three annotations pre-defined in the language @Deprecated, @Override, and @SuppressWarnings only @Deprecated is available at runtime.

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