Your first Java program

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

Finally,
here’s the program.
[15]
It prints out information about the system that it’s running on using
various methods of the
System
object from the Java standard library. Note that an additional style of comment
is introduced here: the ‘
//’,
which is a comment until the end of the line:

// Property.java
import java.util.*;
 
public class Property {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println(new Date());
    Properties p = System.getProperties();
    p.list(System.out);
    System.out.println("--- Memory Usage:");
    Runtime rt = Runtime.getRuntime();
    System.out.println("Total Memory = "
                       + rt.totalMemory()
                       + " Free Memory = "
                       + rt.freeMemory());
  }
}

At
the beginning of each program file, you must place the
import
statement to bring in any extra classes you’ll need for the code in that
file. Note that it is “extra.” That’s because there’s a
certain library of classes that are automatically brought into every Java file:
java.lang.
Start up your Web browser and look at the documentation from Sun. (If you
haven’t downloaded it from
java.sun.com
or otherwise installed the Java documentation, do so now). If you look at the
packages.html
file, you’ll see a list of all the different class libraries that come
with Java. Select
java.lang.
Under “Class Index” you’ll see a list of all the classes that
are part of that library. Since
java.lang
is implicitly included in every Java code file, these classes are automatically
available. In the list, you’ll see
System
and
Runtime,
which are used in
Property.java.
There’s no
Date
class listed in
java.lang,
which means you must import another library to use that. If you don’t
know the library where a particular class is, or if you want to see all of the
classes, you can select “Class Hierarchy” in the Java
documentation. In a Web browser, this takes awhile to construct, but you can
find every single class that comes with Java. Then you can use the
browser’s “find” function to find
Date.
When
you do you’ll see it listed as
java.util.Date,
which lets you know that it’s in the
util
library and that you must
import
java.util.*

in order to use
Date.

If
you look at the documentation starting from the
packages.html
file (which I’ve set in my Web browser as the default starting page),
select
java.lang
and then
System.
You’ll see that the
System
class has several fields, and if you select
out
you’ll discover that it’s a
static
PrintStream
object.
Since it’s
static
you don’t need to create anything. The
out
object is always there and you can just use it. What you can do with this
out
object is determined by the type it is: a
PrintStream.
Conveniently,
PrintStream
is
shown in the description as a hyperlink, so if you click on that you’ll
see a list of all the methods you can call for
PrintStream.
There are quite a few and these will be covered later in the book. For now all
we’re interested in is
println( ),
which in effect means “print out what I’m giving you to the console
and end with a new line.” Thus, in any Java program you write you can say
System.out.println(“things”)
whenever you want to print something to the console.

The
name of the class is the same as the name of the file. When you’re
creating a stand-alone program such as this one, one of the classes in the file
must have the same name as the file. (The compiler complains if you don’t
do this.) That class must contain a method called
main( )
with the signature shown:

public
static void main(String[] args) {

The
public
keyword means that the method is available to the outside world (described in
detail in Chapter 5). The argument to
main( )
is an array of
String
objects. The
args
won’t be used in this program, but they need to be there because they
hold the arguments invoked on the command line.

The
first line of the program is quite interesting:

System.out.println(new
Date());

Consider
the argument: a
Date
object is being created just to send its value to
println( ).
As soon as this statement is finished, that
Date
is unnecessary, and the garbage collector can come along and get it anytime. We
don’t need to worry about cleaning it up.

The
second line calls
System.getProperties( ).
If you consult the online documentation using your Web browser, you’ll
see that
getProperties( )
is
a
static
method
of class
System.
Because it’s
static,
you don’t need to create any objects in order to call the method; a
static
method
is always available whether an object of its class exists or not. When you call
getProperties( ),
it

produces
the system properties as an object of class
Properties.
The handle that comes back is stored in a
Properties
handle called
p.
In line three, you can see that the
Properties
object has a method called
list( )
that sends its entire contents to a
PrintStream
object that you pass as an argument.

The
fourth and sixth lines in
main( )
are typical print statements. Note that to print multiple
String
values, we simply separate them with ‘
+
signs. However, there’s something strange going on here. The ‘
+
sign doesn’t mean addition when it’s used with
String
objects. Normally, you wouldn’t ascribe any meaning to ‘
+
when you think of strings. However, the Java
String
class is blessed with something called “operator overloading.” That
is, the ‘
+
sign, only when used with
String
objects, behaves differently from the way it does with everything else. For
Strings,
it means “concatenate these two strings.”

But
that’s not all. If you look at the statement:

    System.out.println("Total Memory = "
                       + rt.totalMemory()
                       + " Free Memory = "
                       + rt.freeMemory());

totalMemory( )
and
freeMemory( )
return
numerical
values
,
and not
String
objects. What happens when you “add” a numerical value to a
String?
The compiler sees the problem and magically calls a method that turns that
numerical value (
int,
float,
etc.) into a
String,
which can then be “added” with the plus sign. This
automatic
type conversion

also falls into the category of operator overloading.

Much
of the Java literature states vehemently that operator overloading (a feature
in C++) is bad, and yet here it is! However, this is wired into the compiler,
only for
String
objects, and you can’t overload operators for any of the code you write.

The
fifth line in
main( )
creates a
Runtime
object by calling the
static
method
getRuntime( )
for the class
Runtime.
What’s returned is a handle to a
Runtime
object; whether this is a static object or one created with
new
doesn’t need to concern you, since you can use the objects without
worrying about who’s responsible for cleaning them up. As shown, the
Runtime
object can tell you information about memory usage.


[15]
Some programming environments will flash programs up on the screen and close
them before you’ve had a chance to see the results. You can put in the
following bit of code at the end of
main( )
to pause the output:

  try {
      Thread.currentThread().sleep(5 * 1000);
    } catch(InterruptedException e) {}

}

This
will pause the output for five seconds. This code involves concepts that will
not be introduced until much later in the book, so you won’t understand
it until then, but it will do the trick.

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