Catching and Handling Exceptions

Domains: Java

This section describes how to use the three exception handler components — the trycatch, and finally blocks — to write an exception handler. Then, the try-with-resources statement, introduced in Java SE 7, is explained. The try-with-resources statement is particularly suited to situations that use Closeable resources, such as streams.

The last part of this section walks through an example and analyzes what occurs during various scenarios.

The following example defines and implements a class named ListOfNumbers. When constructed, ListOfNumbers creates an ArrayList that contains 10 Integer elements with sequential values 0 through 9. The ListOfNumbers class also defines a method named writeList, which writes the list of numbers into a text file called OutFile.txt. This example uses output classes defined in java.io, which are covered in Basic I/O.

		// Note: This class will not compile yet.
import java.io.*;
import java.util.List;
import java.util.ArrayList;

public class ListOfNumbers {

    private List<Integer> list;
    private static final int SIZE = 10;

    public ListOfNumbers () {
        list = new ArrayList<Integer>(SIZE);
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            list.add(new Integer(i));
        }
    }

    public void writeList() {
	// The FileWriter constructor throws IOException, which must be caught.
        PrintWriter out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));

        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            // The get(int) method throws IndexOutOfBoundsException, which must be caught.
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));
        }
        out.close();
    }
}

The first line in boldface is a call to a constructor. The constructor initializes an output stream on a file. If the file cannot be opened, the constructor throws an IOException. The second boldface line is a call to the ArrayList class's get method, which throws an IndexOutOfBoundsException if the value of its argument is too small (less than 0) or too large (more than the number of elements currently contained by the ArrayList).

If you try to compile the ListOfNumbers class, the compiler prints an error message about the exception thrown by the FileWriter constructor. However, it does not display an error message about the exception thrown by get. The reason is that the exception thrown by the constructor, IOException, is a checked exception, and the one thrown by the get method, IndexOutOfBoundsException, is an unchecked exception.

Now that you're familiar with the ListOfNumbers class and where the exceptions can be thrown within it, you're ready to write exception handlers to catch and handle those exceptions.

The first step in constructing an exception handler is to enclose the code that might throw an exception within a try block. In general, a try block looks like the following:

			try {
    code
}
catch and finally blocks . . .

The segment in the example labeled code contains one or more legal lines of code that could throw an exception. (The catch and finally blocks are explained in the next two subsections.)

To construct an exception handler for the writeList method from the ListOfNumbers class, enclose the exception-throwing statements of the writeList method within a try block. There is more than one way to do this. You can put each line of code that might throw an exception within its own try block and provide separate exception handlers for each. Or, you can put all the writeList code within a single try block and associate multiple handlers with it. The following listing uses one try block for the entire method because the code in question is very short.

			private List<Integer> list;
private static final int SIZE = 10;

public void writeList() {
    PrintWriter out = null;
    try {
        System.out.println("Entered try statement");
        out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));
        }
    }
    catch and finally blocks  . . .
}

If an exception occurs within the try block, that exception is handled by an exception handler associated with it. To associate an exception handler with a try block, you must put a catch block after it; the next section, The catch Blocks, shows you how.

You associate exception handlers with a try block by providing one or more catch blocks directly after the try block. No code can be between the end of the try block and the beginning of the first catchblock.

				try {

} catch (ExceptionType name) {

} catch (ExceptionType name) {

}

Each catch block is an exception handler that handles the type of exception indicated by its argument. The argument type, ExceptionType, declares the type of exception that the handler can handle and must be the name of a class that inherits from the Throwable class. The handler can refer to the exception with name.

The catch block contains code that is executed if and when the exception handler is invoked. The runtime system invokes the exception handler when the handler is the first one in the call stack whose ExceptionType matches the type of the exception thrown. The system considers it a match if the thrown object can legally be assigned to the exception handler's argument.

The following are two exception handlers for the writeList method:

				try {

} catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {
    System.err.println("IndexOutOfBoundsException: " + e.getMessage());
} catch (IOException e) {
    System.err.println("Caught IOException: " + e.getMessage());
}

Exception handlers can do more than just print error messages or halt the program. They can do error recovery, prompt the user to make a decision, or propagate the error up to a higher-level handler using chained exceptions, as described in the Chained Exceptions section.

Catching More Than One Type of Exception with One Exception Handler

In Java SE 7 and later, a single catch block can handle more than one type of exception. This feature can reduce code duplication and lessen the temptation to catch an overly broad exception.

In the catch clause, specify the types of exceptions that block can handle, and separate each exception type with a vertical bar (|):

				catch (IOException|SQLException ex) {
    logger.log(ex);
    throw ex;
}

Note: If a catch block handles more than one exception type, then the catch parameter is implicitly final. In this example, the catch parameter ex is final and therefore you cannot assign any values to it within the catch block.

The finally block always executes when the try block exits. This ensures that the finally block is executed even if an unexpected exception occurs. But finally is useful for more than just exception handling — it allows the programmer to avoid having cleanup code accidentally bypassed by a returncontinue, or break. Putting cleanup code in a finally block is always a good practice, even when no exceptions are anticipated.

Note: If the JVM exits while the try or catch code is being executed, then the finally block may not execute. Likewise, if the thread executing the try or catch code is interrupted or killed, the finally block may not execute even though the application as a whole continues.

The try block of the writeList method that you've been working with here opens a PrintWriter. The program should close that stream before exiting the writeList method. This poses a somewhat complicated problem because writeList's try block can exit in one of three ways.

  1. The new FileWriter statement fails and throws an IOException.
  2. The list.get(i) statement fails and throws an IndexOutOfBoundsException.
  3. Everything succeeds and the try block exits normally.

The runtime system always executes the statements within the finally block regardless of what happens within the try block. So it's the perfect place to perform cleanup.

The following finally block for the writeList method cleans up and then closes the PrintWriter.

					finally {
    if (out != null) { 
        System.out.println("Closing PrintWriter");
        out.close(); 
    } else { 
        System.out.println("PrintWriter not open");
    } 
} 
Important: The finally block is a key tool for preventing resource leaks. When closing a file or otherwise recovering resources, place the code in a finally block to ensure that resource is always recovered.

Consider using the try-with-resources statement in these situations, which automatically releases system resources when no longer needed. The The try-with-resources Statement section has more information.

The try-with-resources statement is a try statement that declares one or more resources. A resource is an object that must be closed after the program is finished with it. The try-with-resources statement ensures that each resource is closed at the end of the statement. Any object that implements java.lang.AutoCloseable, which includes all objects which implement java.io.Closeable, can be used as a resource.

The following example reads the first line from a file. It uses an instance of BufferedReader to read data from the file. BufferedReader is a resource that must be closed after the program is finished with it:

						static String readFirstLineFromFile(String path) throws IOException {
    try (BufferedReader br =
                   new BufferedReader(new FileReader(path))) {
        return br.readLine();
    }
}

In this example, the resource declared in the try-with-resources statement is a BufferedReader. The declaration statement appears within parentheses immediately after the try keyword. The class BufferedReader, in Java SE 7 and later, implements the interface java.lang.AutoCloseable. Because the BufferedReader instance is declared in a try-with-resource statement, it will be closed regardless of whether the try statement completes normally or abruptly (as a result of the method BufferedReader.readLine throwing an IOException).

Prior to Java SE 7, you can use a finally block to ensure that a resource is closed regardless of whether the try statement completes normally or abruptly. The following example uses a finally block instead of a try-with-resources statement:

						static String readFirstLineFromFileWithFinallyBlock(String path)
                                                     throws IOException {
    BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(path));
    try {
        return br.readLine();
    } finally {
        if (br != null) br.close();
    }
}

However, in this example, if the methods readLine and close both throw exceptions, then the method readFirstLineFromFileWithFinallyBlock throws the exception thrown from the finallyblock; the exception thrown from the try block is suppressed. In contrast, in the example readFirstLineFromFile, if exceptions are thrown from both the try block and the try-with-resources statement, then the method readFirstLineFromFile throws the exception thrown from the try block; the exception thrown from the try-with-resources block is suppressed. In Java SE 7 and later, you can retrieve suppressed exceptions; see the section Suppressed Exceptions for more information.

You may declare one or more resources in a try-with-resources statement. The following example retrieves the names of the files packaged in the zip file zipFileName and creates a text file that contains the names of these files:

						public static void writeToFileZipFileContents(String zipFileName,
                                           String outputFileName)
                                           throws java.io.IOException {

    java.nio.charset.Charset charset =
         java.nio.charset.StandardCharsets.US_ASCII;
    java.nio.file.Path outputFilePath =
         java.nio.file.Paths.get(outputFileName);

    // Open zip file and create output file with 
    // try-with-resources statement

    try (
        java.util.zip.ZipFile zf =
             new java.util.zip.ZipFile(zipFileName);
        java.io.BufferedWriter writer = 
            java.nio.file.Files.newBufferedWriter(outputFilePath, charset)
    ) {
        // Enumerate each entry
        for (java.util.Enumeration entries =
                                zf.entries(); entries.hasMoreElements();) {
            // Get the entry name and write it to the output file
            String newLine = System.getProperty("line.separator");
            String zipEntryName =
                 ((java.util.zip.ZipEntry)entries.nextElement()).getName() +
                 newLine;
            writer.write(zipEntryName, 0, zipEntryName.length());
        }
    }
}

In this example, the try-with-resources statement contains two declarations that are separated by a semicolon: ZipFile and BufferedWriter. When the block of code that directly follows it terminates, either normally or because of an exception, the close methods of the BufferedWriter and ZipFile objects are automatically called in this order. Note that the close methods of resources are called in the opposite order of their creation.

The following example uses a try-with-resources statement to automatically close a java.sql.Statement object:

						public static void viewTable(Connection con) throws SQLException {

    String query = "select COF_NAME, SUP_ID, PRICE, SALES, TOTAL from COFFEES";

    try (Statement stmt = con.createStatement()) {
        ResultSet rs = stmt.executeQuery(query);

        while (rs.next()) {
            String coffeeName = rs.getString("COF_NAME");
            int supplierID = rs.getInt("SUP_ID");
            float price = rs.getFloat("PRICE");
            int sales = rs.getInt("SALES");
            int total = rs.getInt("TOTAL");

            System.out.println(coffeeName + ", " + supplierID + ", " + 
                               price + ", " + sales + ", " + total);
        }
    } catch (SQLException e) {
        JDBCTutorialUtilities.printSQLException(e);
    }
}

The resource java.sql.Statement used in this example is part of the JDBC 4.1 and later API.

Note: A try-with-resources statement can have catch and finally blocks just like an ordinary try statement. In a try-with-resources statement, any catch or finally block is run after the resources declared have been closed.

Suppressed Exceptions

An exception can be thrown from the block of code associated with the try-with-resources statement. In the example writeToFileZipFileContents, an exception can be thrown from the try block, and up to two exceptions can be thrown from the try-with-resources statement when it tries to close the ZipFile and BufferedWriter objects. If an exception is thrown from the try block and one or more exceptions are thrown from the try-with-resources statement, then those exceptions thrown from the try-with-resources statement are suppressed, and the exception thrown by the block is the one that is thrown by the writeToFileZipFileContents method. You can retrieve these suppressed exceptions by calling the Throwable.getSuppressed method from the exception thrown by the try block.

Classes That Implement the AutoCloseable or Closeable Interface

See the Javadoc of the AutoCloseable and Closeable interfaces for a list of classes that implement either of these interfaces. The Closeable interface extends the AutoCloseable interface. The close method of the Closeable interface throws exceptions of type IOException while the close method of the AutoCloseable interface throws exceptions of type Exception. Consequently, subclasses of the AutoCloseable interface can override this behavior of the close method to throw specialized exceptions, such as IOException, or no exception at all.

Putting It All Together

The previous sections described how to construct the trycatch, and finally code blocks for the writeList method in the ListOfNumbers class. Now, let's walk through the code and investigate what can happen.

When all the components are put together, the writeList method looks like the following.

							public void writeList() {
    PrintWriter out = null;

    try {
        System.out.println("Entering" + " try statement");

        out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));
        }
    } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IndexOutOfBoundsException: "
                           +  e.getMessage());
                                 
    } catch (IOException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IOException: " +  e.getMessage());
                                 
    } finally {
        if (out != null) {
            System.out.println("Closing PrintWriter");
            out.close();
        } 
        else {
            System.out.println("PrintWriter not open");
        }
    }
}

As mentioned previously, this method's try block has three different exit possibilities; here are two of them.

  1. Code in the try statement fails and throws an exception. This could be an IOException caused by the new FileWriter statement or an IndexOutOfBoundsException caused by a wrong index value in the for loop.
  2. Everything succeeds and the try statement exits normally.

Let's look at what happens in the writeList method during these two exit possibilities.

Scenario 1: An Exception Occurs

The statement that creates a FileWriter can fail for a number of reasons. For example, the constructor for the FileWriter throws an IOException if the program cannot create or write to the file indicated.

When FileWriter throws an IOException, the runtime system immediately stops executing the try block; method calls being executed are not completed. The runtime system then starts searching at the top of the method call stack for an appropriate exception handler. In this example, when the IOException occurs, the FileWriter constructor is at the top of the call stack. However, the FileWriterconstructor doesn't have an appropriate exception handler, so the runtime system checks the next method — the writeList method — in the method call stack. The writeList method has two exception handlers: one for IOException and one for IndexOutOfBoundsException.

The runtime system checks writeList's handlers in the order in which they appear after the try statement. The argument to the first exception handler is IndexOutOfBoundsException. This does not match the type of exception thrown, so the runtime system checks the next exception handler — IOException. This matches the type of exception that was thrown, so the runtime system ends its search for an appropriate exception handler. Now that the runtime has found an appropriate handler, the code in that catch block is executed.

After the exception handler executes, the runtime system passes control to the finally block. Code in the finally block executes regardless of the exception caught above it. In this scenario, the FileWriter was never opened and doesn't need to be closed. After the finally block finishes executing, the program continues with the first statement after the finally block.

Here's the complete output from the ListOfNumbers program that appears when an IOException is thrown.

							Entering try statement
Caught IOException: OutFile.txt
PrintWriter not open 

The boldface code in the following listing shows the statements that get executed during this scenario:

							public void writeList() {
   PrintWriter out = null;

    try {
        System.out.println("Entering try statement");
        out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++)
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));
                               
    } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IndexOutOfBoundsException: "
                           + e.getMessage());
                                 
    } catch (IOException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IOException: " + e.getMessage());
    } finally {
        if (out != null) {
            System.out.println("Closing PrintWriter");
            out.close();
        } 
        else {
            System.out.println("PrintWriter not open");
        }
    }
}

Scenario 2: The try Block Exits Normally

In this scenario, all the statements within the scope of the try block execute successfully and throw no exceptions. Execution falls off the end of the try block, and the runtime system passes control to the finally block. Because everything was successful, the PrintWriter is open when control reaches the finally block, which closes the PrintWriter. Again, after the finally block finishes executing, the program continues with the first statement after the finally block.

Here is the output from the ListOfNumbers program when no exceptions are thrown.

							Entering try statement
Closing PrintWriter

The boldface code in the following sample shows the statements that get executed during this scenario.

							public void writeList() {
    PrintWriter out = null;
    try {
        System.out.println("Entering try statement");
        out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++)
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));
                  
    } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IndexOutOfBoundsException: "
                           + e.getMessage());

    } catch (IOException e) {
        System.err.println("Caught IOException: " + e.getMessage());
                                 
    } finally {
        if (out != null) {
            System.out.println("Closing PrintWriter");
            out.close();
        } 
        else {
            System.out.println("PrintWriter not open");
        }
    }
}

Similar pages

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int

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float

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