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Understanding Java Enum

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Somebody wanted an example of how to write an Enum class in Java 7 (a bit late since its introduced in Java 5) because they found the Enum tutorial unhelpful (not as helpful to their purpose at hand). They wanted to understand how to use an Enum type in another class. Here’s an example set of files to do that and here’s the link to the jazzed up Java 7 API online docs).

First, you need to understand that while the equals(), toString(), and hashCode() override methods should always be provided in your classes. The exception is when they’re designated final, like the toString() and hashCode() methods of the Enum class. Second, you can write an Enum class with or without private variables. The inclusion of private instance variables makes the Enum a complex Enum (that’s just the vocabulary for the Java certification tests.

Sample Enum Class

The AppleComputer class is a complex Enum, and you should note that the constructor is private, and must always define the values of instance variables. The instance variables are defined within the parentheses after the name in the enumeration list.

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/**
 * Enumeration class AppleComputer - write a description of the enum class here
 * 
 * @author  Michael McLaughlin
 * @version 1.0
 */
public enum AppleComputer
{
  /**
   * This is an entry-level desktop computer.
   */
  IMAC("Entry-level Desktop",1199),
  /**
   * This is an manager-level laptop computer.
   */
  MACBOOKAIR("Manager-level Laptop",999),
  /**
   * This is an manager-level laptop computer.
   */
  MACBOOKPRO("Developer-level Laptop",1199),
  /**
   * This is an developer-level laptop computer.
   */
  MACMINI("Mini-Desktop",599),
  /**
   * This is a mini-desktop computer.
   */
  MACPRO("Desktop",2499);
 
  /**
   *  Private variable definitions.
   */
  private double cost;
  private String description;
 
  /**
   *  Constructs an instance with a cost and description. 
   */
  private AppleComputer(String description, double cost) {
    this.description = description;
    this.cost = cost; }
 
  /**
   *  Returns the cost field of an Apple Computer. 
   */
  public double getCost() {
    return this.cost; }
 
  /**
   *  Returns the description field of an Apple Computer. 
   */
  public String getDescription() {
    return description; }
 
  /**
   *  Returns the description field of an Apple Computer. 
   */
  public String getDescription(String name) {
    return this.description; }
 
  /**
   *  Returns the equality of between two AppleComputer Enum types. 
   */
  public boolean equals(AppleComputer ac) {
    // First comparision on primitives and second on String instances.
    if ((this.cost == ac.getCost()) && (this.description.equals(ac.getDescription())))
      return true;
    else
      return false; }
 
  /**
   *  Method to test class integrity.
   */
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    if (args.length == 1) {
      System.out.printf("Apple Computer : %s is %s\n", AppleComputer.valueOf(args[0]).toString(), AppleComputer.IMAC.getDescription(args[0]));
      System.exit(0); } 
    else {
      for (AppleComputer ac : AppleComputer.values())
        System.out.printf("Apple Computer : %s is %s\n", ac, ac.description);  }}    
}

Sample Class that uses the Enum Class

The EnumTextUse class demonstrates how to use and identify the instance of a complex Enum class in another class. The setState() method has two approaches, one where you pass the name and discover viable enumeration possibilities, and two when you pass an Enum instance.

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/**
 * The EnumTextUse class demonstrates how to identify and use an Enum
 * class that contains a text value.
 * 
 * @author  Michael McLaughlin 
 * @version 1.0
 */
 
/**
 * Import classes.
 */
import java.text.NumberFormat;
import java.text.DecimalFormat;
 
public class EnumTextUse {
 
  /**
   * Declare class level variables.
   */
  private AppleComputer ac;
  private String desc;
 
  /**
   * Constructor for objects of class TestEnum
   */
  public EnumTextUse() {}
 
  /**
   * An example of a method that takes a text string to find the ENUM
   * element value.
   */
  public int setState(String name) {
 
    // Declare local variable for false.
    int returnValue = 0;
 
    // put your code here
    try {
      // Verify that it's a valid instance of AppleComputer.         
      if (AppleComputer.valueOf(name) instanceof AppleComputer) {
        if (AppleComputer.IMAC == AppleComputer.valueOf(name)) {
          this.ac = AppleComputer.IMAC; }
        else if (AppleComputer.MACBOOKAIR == AppleComputer.valueOf(name)) {
          this.ac = AppleComputer.MACBOOKAIR; }
        else if (AppleComputer.MACBOOKPRO == AppleComputer.valueOf(name)) {
          this.ac = AppleComputer.MACBOOKPRO; }
        else if (AppleComputer.MACPRO == AppleComputer.valueOf(name)) {
          this.ac = AppleComputer.MACPRO; }
        else if (AppleComputer.MACMINI == AppleComputer.valueOf(name)) {
          this.ac = AppleComputer.MACMINI; }}
 
      // Return -1 as the truth indicator state was set or unnecessary.
      returnValue = -1; }
 
    catch (Exception e) {
      System.out.println(name + " is no longer sold."); }
 
    // Return the int value for true or false.
    return returnValue; 
  }
 
  /**
   * An example of a method that takes a text string to find the ENUM
   * element value.
   */
  public int setState(AppleComputer ac)
  {
    // Assign the AppleComputer fields to a local variable.
    double costSavings;
    double localCost = this.ac.getCost();
    String localDesc = this.ac.toString() + " : " + this.ac.getDescription();
 
    // Define format mask for output.
    NumberFormat f = new DecimalFormat("##,###,##0.00");
 
    // Declare local variable for false.
    int returnValue = 0;
 
    // put your code here
    try {
 
      // Check for an instance of the Enum.
      if (this.ac instanceof AppleComputer) {
 
      // Find different (unequal) instances and update with the new one.
      if (this.ac.equals(ac)) {
        // Print message on match between prior and set value of AppleComputer.
        this.desc = this.ac + " is the authorized platform and no cost difference."; }
 
      else {
 
        // Assign the new Enum value, calculate and display cost savings message.
        this.ac = ac;
        costSavings = this.ac.getCost() - localCost;
 
        // Determine the message based on a reduced or increased cost of replacement.
        if (costSavings > 0) {
          this.desc = this.ac + " is substituted for " + localDesc + " at $" + f.format(costSavings) + " more than planned."; }
        else {
          this.desc = this.ac + " is substituted for " + localDesc + " at $" + f.format(Math.abs(costSavings)) + " less than planned."; }}}
 
        // Return -1 as the truth indicator state was set or unnecessary.
        returnValue = -1; }
 
    catch (Exception e) {
      System.out.println(e.getMessage()); }
 
    // Return the int value for true or false.
    return returnValue; 
  }
 
  /**
   * Return the current description value.
   */
  public String getState() {
    return this.desc; }
 
  /**
   * Allows testing the program.
   */
  public static void main(String [] args)
  {
    // Declare a string of possible enumeration types.
    String [] list = {"IMAC","MACBOOK","MACBOOKAIR","MACBOOKPRO","MACMINI","MACPRO"};
 
    // Construct a test instance.
    EnumTextUse etu = new EnumTextUse();
 
    /**
     * Read through the list of enumeration types, printing output from
     * the inherited or overridden toString() method.
     */ 
    for (int i = 0; i < list.length; i++) {
      if (etu.setState(list[i]) != 0) {
 
        // The company standard must apply in all cases.
        if (etu.setState(AppleComputer.IMAC) != 0)
          System.out.println(etu.getState()); }
    }
  }
}

You can run the EnumTextUse class from the command-line or tool of your choice, like:

$ java EnumTextUse

It’ll print the following text:

IMAC is the authorized platform and no cost difference.
MACBOOK is no longer sold.
IMAC is substituted for MACBOOKAIR : Manager-level Laptop at $200.00 more than planned.
IMAC is substituted for MACBOOKPRO : Developer-level Laptop at $0.00 less than planned.
IMAC is substituted for MACMINI : Mini-Desktop at $600.00 more than planned.
IMAC is substituted for MACPRO : Desktop at $1,300.00 less than planned.

You can check this Java Community Process page for the nuts and bolts of the Enum class. As always, I hoped this helped. Let me know if anything requires more clarity or any correction.

Written by maclochlainn

January 2nd, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Posted in Java,Objects

4 Responses to 'Understanding Java Enum'

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  1. I found a duplicate method in your enumeration. This is written twice:

    /**
      *  Returns the description field of an Apple Computer. 
      */
      public String getDescription(String name) {
        return this.description; }

    Michael Stokes

    20 Feb 12 at 12:24 am

  2. Do you mean these?

     
      /**
       *  Returns the description field of an Apple Computer. 
       */
      public String getDescription() {
        return description; }
     
      /**
       *  Returns the description field of an Apple Computer. 
       */
      public String getDescription(String name) {
        return this.description; }

    They’re overloaded not duplicative.

    maclochlainn

    20 Feb 12 at 12:27 am

  3. thanks for the example!

    Stijn

    12 Jun 12 at 8:20 am

  4. Simply great tutorial. I would also suggest to read through following comprehensive 15 Java Enum Interview Questions. It provide good overview of different enum features.

    Rashmi

    25 Jul 13 at 12:54 am

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