Basics of Java
Java, with its remarkable and dynamic features, has emerged as one of the most sought-after choices of developers for large-scale programming of web applications. It is a user-friendly language with a wide range of extraordinary features. Its compatibility with all the operating systems is the rich API has made it popular across the globe. The language offers robust community support and excellent documentation services. Java has a suite of solid development tools.
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Constructors in Java
The constructors in Java are used to initialize the state of the object. Just like methods, constructors also contain a group of statements or instructions that are to be executed while an object is created.
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Why do we need a constructor in Java?
Let us consider a Box. If the box is assumed to be a class, it may have several variables such as width, length and height. When an object is to be created, the box class will have no defined values for its dimensions. At the time of creating new objects, the constructors assign values to the variables of the class. The assignment of values can either be done using default Java constructors or explicitly by the parameters passed by the programmer.
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When is a Constructor Invoked?
A minimum of one constructor is invoked each time when an object is created using the new() keyword. This constructor provides initial values to the class’s data members. In general, a constructor is called when a new object or instance is created.
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Constructor Overloading in Java
The process of defining multiple constructors of the same class is referred to as Constructor overloading. However, each constructor should have a different signature or input parameters. In other words, constructor overloading in Java is a technique that enables a single class to have more than one constructor that varies by the list of arguments passed. Each overloaded constructor is used to perform different task in the class.
The Java compiler identifies the overloaded constructors on the basis of their parameter lists, parameter types and the number of input parameters. Hence, the constructors that are overloaded should have different signatures. A constructor’s signature contains its name and parameter types. An ambiguity issue arises when two of the class constructors have an identical signature.
The compiler fails to differentiate between the two and hence returns an error notification. When constructors with different signatures are overloaded, the compiler determines the constructor to be invoked based on the number of input parameters of the objects.
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Use of Constructor Overloading
As construction overloading enables the creation of the object of a specific class in several ways, it is most commonly used in Java programs based on the requirement of the programmer. With the use of constructor overloading, objects can be initialized with different data types.
Consider that an object with three class instance variables is taken as an example where a particular value is to be assigned to the second instance variable and the other variables are to be assigned default values. This can be accomplished by the declaration of multiple constructors according to the different signatures in the constituent class.
Example Code for the Implementation of Constructor Overloading in Java
Let us consider a program in which an Employee class has three constructors. Based on the values passed, each of the three is invoked to initialize an object.
Use of this Reference in Java
All instance methods and constructors welcome an implicit parameter called ‘this’, which is used to refer to the current object. The current object is that object on which the method is invoked. We can use the ‘this’ reference to refer to the current object within any constructor or method. The ‘this’ reference can be used, like any other object references, to access instance methods, constructors and variables, within the method or constructor’s body.
Few important scenarios where the ‘this’ reference is used are:
- When the names of the parameters are different from the instance variable names
- When a reference is to be passed to the current object and a parameter to another method
- When a constructor is to be invoked from another constructor.
The this() reference arguments must match the arguments of the target constructor in this case. The this() function must be the first statement within the constructor. In special cases such as complexity of initialization routine, this function can be used in the duplicate code elimination in multiple constructors.
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Benefits of Constructor Overloading in Java
Constructor overloading in Java refers to defining multiple constructors for a class, each with a different set of parameters. This provides several advantages of constructor in java: –
Overload constructor in java allows you to create objects in different ways, providing flexibility to clients of your class. Different constructors can accept different combinations of parameters, making it easier for developers to instantiate objects based on their specific needs.
With constructor overloading, you can provide different ways to initialize an object’s state. For instance, you might have constructors that initialize only a subset of the object’s fields or properties, allowing for partial initialization.
By providing multiple constructors with different parameter lists, you can reuse code logic within your class. You can have one constructor that initializes default values and then has others that build upon it by adding more parameters and specific initialization steps.
Constructor overloading enhances the convenience of using your class by allowing users to create objects with parameters that make sense to them without manually setting properties after object creation.
Well-named overloaded constructor in java make your code more readable and self-explanatory. Instead of creating an object and setting various properties, developers can create an object with the required values directly in the constructor call.
Avoidance of Setter Methods
In situations where you want to ensure that certain properties are set at object creation and remain immutable after that, constructor overloading is useful. This approach helps in creating more immutable and thread-safe objects.
Overloading constructor in java can help enforce type safety by providing constructors with specific parameter types. This reduces the chances of runtime errors related to incorrect parameter assignments.
Constructor overloading in Java can help catch errors at compile time rather than runtime. The compiler will generate an error if you try to create an object using a constructor with a parameter list that doesn’t match any defined constructor.
Reduced Boilerplate Code
When a class has multiple fields or properties, constructor overloading can save you from writing repetitive constructor initialization code by providing various constructors with different parameter combinations.
Essential points to consider in Constructor Overloading in Java
Certainly, here are some important points to keep in mind when dealing with constructor overloading in Java:
Number and Type of Parameters
Constructors can be overloaded based on the number and types of parameters they accept. This allows you to provide different ways to initialize objects.
Java automatically provides a default constructor with no parameters if you don’t define any constructors in your class. However, once you define any constructor, the default constructor is no longer automatically provided.
You can use this() keyword to call one constructor from another in the same class. This is useful for reusing code and avoiding redundancy in initialization logic.
Order of Constructors
A class should have different parameter lists if multiple constructors are defined in a class. The order of the constructors doesn’t matter as long as the parameter lists are unique. Java will choose the appropriate constructor based on the arguments provided during object creation.
A constructor is always invoked when creating an object using the new keyword. The appropriate constructor is determined based on the arguments passed.
When a subclass is created, the constructor of its superclass is also invoked. You can use the super() keyword to call a superclass constructor with specific arguments explicitly.
Constructor Overloading vs. Method Overloading
While constructor overloading involves defining multiple constructors in a class, method overloading involves defining multiple methods with the same name but different parameter lists. They serve different purposes but are both mechanisms for providing different interfaces to the same functionality.
Apart from constructors, Java also supports instance initialization blocks (also called instance initializers), which are executed before constructors and are a way to provide common initialization logic for multiple constructors.
The Java compiler chooses the appropriate constructor based on the arguments provided during object creation. If no matching constructor is found, a compilation error occurs.
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- Constructor overloading in Java refers to the use of more than one constructor in an instance class. However, each overloaded constructor must have different signatures.
- For the compilation to be successful, each constructor must contain a different list of arguments.
- The list of parameters includes sequence and the types of input arguments.
- Two constructors in a class with the same list of parameters is not feasible in Java.
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