You manipulate objects with handles

Bruce Eckel's Thinking in Java Contents | Prev | Next

with handles

Each programming language has its own means of manipulating data. Sometimes the programmer must constantly be aware of what type of manipulation is going on. Are you manipulating the object directly or are you dealing with some kind of indirect representation (a pointer in C or C++) that must be treated with a special syntax?

All this is simplified in Java. You treat everything as an object, so there is a single consistent syntax that you use everywhere. Although you treat everything as an object, the identifier you manipulate is actually a “handle” to an object. (You might see this called a reference or even a pointer in other discussions of Java.) You might imagine this scene as a television (the object) with your remote control (the handle). As long as you’re holding this handle, you have a connection to the television, but when someone says “change the channel” or “lower the volume,” what you’re manipulating is the handle, which in turn modifies the object. If you want to move around the room and still control the television, you take the remote/handle with you, not the television.

Also, the remote control can stand on its own, with no television. That is, just because you have a handle doesn’t mean there’s necessarily an object connected to it. So if you want to hold a word or sentence, you create a String handle:

String s;

But here you’ve created only the handle, not an object. If you decided to send a message to s at this point, you’ll get an error (at run-time) because s isn’t actually attached to anything (there’s no television). A safer practice, then, is always to initialize a handle when you create it:

String s = "asdf";

However, this uses a special case: strings can be initialized with quoted text. Normally, you must use a more general type of initialization for objects.



Comments

  • There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment!

Leave a Comment
  • Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

Top White Papers and Webcasts

  • On-demand Event Event Date: September 10, 2014 Modern mobile applications connect systems-of-engagement (mobile apps) with systems-of-record (traditional IT) to deliver new and innovative business value. But the lifecycle for development of mobile apps is also new and different. Emerging trends in mobile development call for faster delivery of incremental features, coupled with feedback from the users of the app "in the wild." This loop of continuous delivery and continuous feedback is how the best mobile …

  • The explosion in mobile devices and applications has generated a great deal of interest in APIs. Today's businesses are under increased pressure to make it easy to build apps, supply tools to help developers work more quickly, and deploy operational analytics so they can track users, developers, application performance, and more. Apigee Edge provides comprehensive API delivery tools and both operational and business-level analytics in an integrated platform. It is available as on-premise software or through …

Most Popular Programming Stories

More for Developers

Latest Developer Headlines

RSS Feeds