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Default Listener Methods

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Revision as of 06:45, 19 April 2018 by JaroslavTulach (Talk | contribs)
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Recently I tried to apply the DefaultMethods API Design warning to work done by my colleagues and they (obviously) objected. That's OK, they object all the time, but the worst thing this time was: they were right!

JavaBean Listener and Adapter

Do you remember the classical JavaBean pattern called listener and its associated adapter? Imagine for example MouseListener and MouseAdapter. The pair of types used to be created to save users from always implementing all the listener methods and offer them to save some typing by rather using the adapter. Turns out DefaultMethods allow us to merge these two types into one:

public interface MouseListener extends EventListener {
    public default void mouseClicked(MouseEvent e) {}
    public default void mousePressed(MouseEvent e) {}
    public default void mouseReleased(MouseEvent e) {}
    public default void mouseEntered(MouseEvent e) {}
    public default void mouseExited(MouseEvent e) {}

Such listener type is both a listener as well as an adaptor and there is nothing wrong with that!


Why does the philippic against using DefaultMethods in an API doesn't apply? The code that runs after one of the listener methods isn't (unless an unexpected exception happens or unless it never returns or runs too long - e.g. all the usual warnings when calling foreign code are applicable) influenced by the code in the method - e.g. it shouldn't matter what the method does and thus adding new method with default empty implementation seems to be OK.

There is a necessary condition for that: such methods have to return void. If the methods returned anything observable, then we'd be back in the DefaultMethods situation. If the default body would look like this:

/** @return true to "consume" the event */
public default boolean mouseExited(MouseEvent e) {
    return false;

then all the arguments against using these DefaultMethods would apply again. It would again be impossible to distinguish between methods having default implementation or DefaultMethods overridden with intention to keep the default implementation.

Up Side Down

Thanks Dušane for pointing the listener case out! As mentioned in TheAPIBook, slight change in the initial situation may turn the final advice up side down. Thus I gladly (have to) admit: using DefaultMethods in listener JavaBean pattern is perfectly fine.

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