Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tips for Using Exceptions - Proper use of exceptions


Tips for Using Exceptions - Proper use of exceptions

1. Exception handling is not supposed to replace a simple test.
As an example of this, we wrote some code that tries 10,000,000 times to pop an empty stack. It first does this by finding out whether the stack is empty.
if (!s.empty()) s.pop();
Next, we tell it to pop the stack no matter what. Then, we catch the EmptyStackException that tells us that we should not have done that.
try()
{
s.pop();
}
catch (EmptyStackException e)
{
}
Table 11–1 Timing Data Test                      Throw/Catch
            646 milliseconds                      21,739 milliseconds
Use exceptions for exceptional circumstances only.

2. Do not micromanage exceptions

Many programmers wrap every statement in a separate try block.
OutputStream out;
Stack s;
for (i = 0; i < 100; i++)
{
try
{
n = s.pop();
}
catch (EmptyStackException s)
{
// stack was empty
}
try
{
out.writeInt(n);
}
catch (IOException e)
{
// problem writing to file
}
}

try
{
for (i = 0; i < 100; i++)
{
n = s.pop();
out.writeInt(n);
}
}
catch (IOException e)
{
// problem writing to file
}
catch (EmptyStackException s)
{
// stack was empty
}
This code looks much cleaner. It fulfills one of the promises of exception handling, to separate normal processing from error handling.




3. Make good use of the exception hierarchy.

Don’t just throw a RuntimeException. Find an appropriate subclass or create your own. Don’t just catch Throwable. It makes your code hard to read and maintain. Respect the difference between checked and unchecked exceptions. For example, when you parse an integer in a file, catch the NumberFormatException and turn it into a subclass of IOException or MySubsystemException.

4. Do not squelch (waste/kill) exceptions.
In Java, there is the tremendous temptation to shut up exceptions.

public Image loadImage(String s)
{
try
{
code that threatens to throw checked exceptions
}
catch (Exception e)
{} // so there
}

Now your code will compile without a hitch. It will run fine, except when an exception occurs. Then, the exception will be silently ignored. If you believe that exceptions are at all important, you should make some effort to handle them right.




6. Propagating exceptions is not a sign of shame.

Many programmers feel compelled to catch all exceptions that are thrown. If they call a method that throws an exception, such as the FileInputStream constructor or the readLine method, they instinctively catch the exception that may be generated. Often, it is actually better to propagate (transmit)  the exception instead of catching it:
public void readStuff(String filename) throws IOException // not a sign of shame!
{
InputStream in = new FileInputStream(filename);
. . .
}
Higher-level methods are often better equipped to inform the user of errors or to
abandon unsuccessful commands.

Assertions
Assertions are a commonly used idiom for defensive programming. Suppose you are convinced that a particular property is fulfilled, and you rely on that property in your code.
For example, you may be computing
            double y = Math.sqrt(x);
You are certain that x is not negative. Perhaps it is the result of another computation that can’t have a negative result, or it is a parameter of a method that requires its callers to supply only positive inputs.

if (x < 0) throw new IllegalArgumentException("x < 0");

But this code stays in the program, even after testing is complete. If you have lots of checks of this kind, the program runs quite a bit slower than it should.

The assertion mechanism allows you to put in checks during testing and to have them automatically removed in the production code.

  • assertion to test our assumption about programs. That means it validates our program!

  • assertions ensures the program validity by catching exceptions and logical errors

assert condition;
and
assert condition : expression;

Both statements evaluate the condition and throw an AssertionError if it is false. In the second
statement, the expression is passed to the constructor of the AssertionError object and turned into a message string.
To assert that x is nonnegative, you can simply use the statement
assert x >= 0;
Or you can pass the actual value of x into the AssertionError object, so that it gets displayed
later.
assert x >= 0 : x;

Using Assertions for Documenting Assumptions
Many programmers use comments to document their underlying assumptions. Consider this example from
if (i % 3 == 0)
. . .
else if (i % 3 == 1)
. . .
else // (i % 3 == 2)
. . .
In this case, it makes a lot of sense to use an assertion instead.
if (i % 3 == 0)
…………
else if (i % 3 == 1)
. . .
else
{
assert i % 3 == 2;
. . .
}
Better: assert i<0;


import java.util.*;
import java.util.Scanner;
  
public class AssertionExample
  {
 public static void main( String args[] )
  {
  Scanner scanner = new Scanner( System.in );
 
  System.out.print( "Enter a number between 0 and 20: " );
  int value = scanner.nextInt();
  assert( value >= 0 && value <= 20 ) :
  "Invalid number: " + value;
  System.out.printf( "You have entered %d\n", value );
 } 
  }
To run the above example,
Compile the example with:  javac AssertionExample.java
Run the example with:  java -ea AssertionExample
To enable assertions at runtime,  -ea command-line option is used









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