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2.26 Changed WordLibrary from an Abstract Class to an Interface

Juppies 2 by Dr Heinz M. Kabutz

We now want to change the WordLibrary from an abstract class to an interface. Prior to Java 8, interfaces could not have any methods with actual code bodies. The reason is that it is possible for a class to implement several interfaces. If more than one has a method with the same name and parameter types, which one should be used? We call this multiple inheritance, and it caused issues in C++. The good news is that Java 8 allows us to use method bodies in interfaces. The bad news is that you might not get a chance to code Java 8 in the "real world" for a while still. Even in the year 2020, where Java 14 was already around, some companies were still using Java 6. We might find companies still coding in Java 1.4. Or we might get really unlucky and get stranded at an organization coding in Java 1.1. That's life. Don't be shocked. Even though we have some beautiful features in modern Java, it takes effort to move to the newer versions and sometimes organizations find it more trouble than worth to upgrade. They fall further and further behind and when they do eventually change, it is a painful process.

In this course we are using at least Java 14, and right now Java 17 has already been released. By all means use Java 17 if you like.

Let's do the change:

  1. Change the class definition to interface instead of abstract class.
  2. Methods are automatically public abstract, so let's take away those redundant modifiers.
  3. Change the isCorrect() method to have modifier default instead of public. The method is automatically public if written inside an interface. If we want it to have a method body, we have to add the default modifier. Note: Since Java 9 we can also have private methods declared inside interfaces, although up to now I have never needed that.
  4. Change our concrete word libraries StaticWordLibrary and ShuffledWordLibrary to say implements WordLibrary instead of extends WordLibrary. When a class implements an interface, we use implements, and when it extends a class we use extends. When an interface extends another interface we also use extends.

We run our game, which also runs our tests.

Whenever possible, we should use interfaces instead of abstract classes. One thing that an abstract class can do, which an interface cannot do, is to contain fields. If we declare a field inside an interface it will automatically be public static final, just like a constant. An abstract class can contain data just like a normal class.

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Heinz Kabutz Java Conference Speaker

Java Champion, author of the Javaspecialists Newsletter, conference speaking regular... About Heinz

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