5.4 Constructors & InstantiationHomepage  « Java5 Certification « 5.4 Constructors & Instantiation

In this lesson we look at code that declares and/or invokes overridden or overloaded methods and code that declares and/or invokes superclass or overloaded constructors.

Lets take a look at the points outlined at the Oracle Website for this part of the certification.

  • Section 5: OO Concepts

    • Given a scenario, develop code that declares and/or invokes overridden or overloaded methods and code that declares and/or invokes superclass or overloaded constructors.

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Constructors allow us to instantiate our objects via declaration, assignment and creation.

object creation
  1. Declaration - Here. we declare a reference variable named moggy of type Cat and the JVM allocates space for it.
  2. Creation - Tells the JVM to allocate space on The Heap for a new Cat object.
  3. Assignment - Assign the new Cat object to the reference variable moggy.

Access Modifiers

The table below shows the types of access available in Java for constructors.

Access modifier Description
publicA constructor may be declared with the public access modifier, and if it is the constructor is accessible to all other classes everywhere, assuming the class it resides in is accessible.
protectedA constructor may be declared with the protected access modifier, and if so, it is only accessible to the package the implementation is in.

See the Packages lesson for more information on packaging.
no modifier
package-private /
(the default)
If a constructor has no explicit access modifier, it is only accessible to the package the implementation is in.

See the Packages lesson for more information on packaging.
privateA constructor may be declared with the private access modifier, and if it is the constructor can only be constructed from within its own class.

Constructor Checklist


  • A constructor runs when we code the new() operator followed by a class name.
  • Constructors must have the same name as the class and no return type.
  • Constructors are used to initialize the instance variables (object state) of the object instance being constructed.
  • If you don't code a constructor in your class the compiler will put in a default no arguments constructor.
  • If you do code a constructor in your class, the compiler will NOT put in a default no arguments constructor, you will have to code it yourself.
  • We can have more than one constructor in a class and the constructors are then known as overloaded constructors.
  • When using overloaded constructors in a class, each constructor must have different argument lists so the compiler knows which constructor to use to construct our objects. Having the same argument types is fine as long as the order differs.
  • You can refer to any member of the current object from within a non-static method or constructor by using the this() keyword.
  • You can invoke one constructor from another constructor within the same class by calling this() and doing so is known as explicit constructor invocation and is the only way to invoke a constructor.
  • If we decide to use this() it must be the first statement within our constructor or we get a compiler error. This means we can't use this() and super() together.
  • We can use super() to invoke a superclass constructor and if we don't supply this explicitly, then the compiler inserts a no-args super() for us as the first statement in the constructor if we haven't used the this() keyword.
  • When explicitly coding super() we can supply arguments to invoke a constructor in the superclass matching the signature of our call.
  • When explicitly coding super() it must be the first statement within the constructor or we get a compiler error. This means we can't use super() and this() together.
  • When explicitly coding super() only methods and static variables can be used within the call.
  • Interfaces do not have constructors as they are not part of a particular classes inheritance tree.
  • Abstract classes do have constructors, although we can't code them, as they are part of a classes inheritance tree and so are called via super() on concrete subclass instantiation.


/*
  Some code showing constructor usage
*/
public class A { 
    public static void main(String args[]) { 
        A a = new A(); // OK, compiler puts in a default no arguments constructor so we can instantiate
    }
}   

public class B { 
    B() { } // OK, we code our own default no arguments constructor
}                                                

public class C { 
    void C() { } // OK, this is a method with the same name as the class as it has a return type
    public static void main(String args[]) { 
        C c = new C();
    }
}          
                                     
public class D { 
    D() { }
    D(int i) { } // OK, overloaded constructor
    public static void main(String args[]) { 
        D d = new D();
        D d2 = new D(5);
    }
}

public class E { 
    int i;    
    String s;

    E(int i) {
        this(i, "unknown"); // Invoke one constructor from another constructor within the same class
    }
    E(int i, String s) {
        this.i = i;
        this.s = s;
    }
    public static void main(String args[]) { 
        E e = new E(5);
    }
}

/*
  Following code will fail as compiler inserts a no arguments constructor for us which invokes 
  super() and there isn't a no arguments constructor in superclass
*/
public class F extends E { 
}

public class G extends E { 
    G(int i) { // here we invoke existing super constructor so works fine 
        super(i);
    }
    public static void main(String args[]) { 
        G g = new G(5);
    }
}

Related Java5 Tutorials

Objects & Classes - Reference Variables - The new Operator
Objects & Classes - Constructors
Inheritance Concepts -Superclass Constructors


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