# Exceptions and exception handling

# Catching an exception with try-catch

An exception can be caught and handled using the try...catch statement. (In fact try statements take other forms, as described in other examples about try...catch...finally and try-with-resources.)

# Try-catch with one catch block

The most simple form looks like this:

try {
    doSomething();
} catch (SomeException e) {
    handle(e);
}
// next statement

The behavior of a simple try...catch is as follows:

  • The statements in the try block are executed.
  • If no exception is thrown by the statements in the try block, then control passes to the next statement after the try...catch.
  • If an exception is thrown within the try block.
    • The exception object is tested to see if it is an instance of SomeException or a subtype.
    • If it is, then the catch block will catch the exception:
      • The variable e is bound to the exception object.
      • The code within the catch block is executed.
      • If that code throws an exception, then the newly thrown exception is propagated in place of the original one.
      • Otherwise, control passes to the next statement after the try...catch.

      # Try-catch with multiple catches

      A try...catch can also have multiple catch blocks. For example:

      try {
          doSomething();
      } catch (SomeException e) {
          handleOneWay(e)
      } catch (SomeOtherException e) {
          handleAnotherWay(e);
      }
      // next statement
      
      

      If there are multiple catch blocks, they are tried one at a time starting with the first one, until a match is found for the exception. The corresponding handler is executed (as above), and then control is passed to the next statement after the try...catch statement. The catch blocks after the one that matches are always skipped, even if the handler code throws an exception.

      The "top down" matching strategy has consequences for cases where the exceptions in the catch blocks are not disjoint. For example:

      try {
          throw new RuntimeException("test");
      } catch (Exception e) {
          System.out.println("Exception");
      } catch (RuntimeException e) {
          System.out.println("RuntimeException");
      }
      
      

      This code snippet will output "Exception" rather than "RuntimeException". Since RuntimeException is a subtype of Exception, the first (more general) catch will be matched. The second (more specific) catch will never be executed.

      The lesson to learn from this is that the most specific catch blocks (in terms of the exception types) should appear first, and the most general ones should be last. (Some Java compilers will warn you if a catch can never be executed, but this is not a compilation error.)

      # Multi-exception catch blocks

      Starting with Java SE 7, a single catch block can handle a list of unrelated exceptions. The exception type are listed, separated with a vertical bar (|) symbol. For example:

      try {
          doSomething();
      } catch (SomeException | SomeOtherException e) {
          handleSomeException(e);
      } 
      
      

      The behavior of a multi-exception catch is a simple extension for the single-exception case. The catch matches if the thrown exception matches (at least) one of the listed exceptions.

      There is some additional subtlety in the specification. The type of e is a synthetic union of the exception types in the list. When the value of e is used, its static type is the least common supertype of the type union. However, if e is rethrown within the catch block, the exception types that are thrown are the types in the union. For example:

      public void method() throws IOException, SQLException
          try {
              doSomething();
          } catch (IOException | SQLException e) {
              report(e);
              throw e;
          }
      
      

      In the above, IOException and SQLException are checked exceptions whose least common supertype is Exception. This means that the report method must match report(Exception). However, the compiler knows that the throw can throw only an IOException or an SQLException. Thus, method can be declared as throws IOException, SQLException rather than throws Exception. (Which is a good thing: see Pitfall - Throwing Throwable, Exception, Error or RuntimeException.)

      # The try-with-resources statement

      As the try-catch-final statement example illustrates, resource cleanup using a finally clause requires a significant amount of "boiler-plate" code to implement the edge-cases correctly. Java 7 provides a much simpler way to deal with this problem in the form of the try-with-resources statement.

      # What is a resource?

      Java 7 introduced the java.lang.AutoCloseable interface to allow classes to be managed using the try-with-resources statement. Instances of classes that implement AutoCloseable are referred to as resources. These typically need to be disposed of in a timely fashion rather than relying on the garbage collector to dispose of them.

      The AutoCloseable interface defines a single method:

      public void close() throws Exception
      
      

      A close() method should dispose of the resource in an appropriate fashion. The specification states that it should be safe to call the method on a resource that has already been disposed of. In addition, classes that implement Autocloseable are strongly encouraged to declare the close() method to throw a more specific exception than Exception, or no exception at all.

      A wide range of standard Java classes and interfaces implement AutoCloseable. These include:

      • InputStream, OutputStream and their subclasses
      • Reader, Writer and their subclasses
      • Socket and ServerSocket and their subclasses
      • Channel and its subclasses, and
      • the JDBC interfaces Connection, Statement and ResultSet and their subclasses.

      Application and third party classes may do this as well.

      # The basic try-with-resource statement

      The syntax of a try-with-resources is based on classical try-catch, try-finally and try-catch-finally forms. Here is an example of a "basic" form; i.e. the form without a catch or finally.

      try (PrintStream stream = new PrintStream("hello.txt")) {
          stream.println("Hello world!");
      }
      
      

      The resources to be manage are declared as variables in the (...) section after the try clause. In the example above, we declare a resource variable stream and initialize it to a newly created PrintStream.

      Once the resource variables have been initialized, the try block is executed. When that completes, stream.close() will be called automatically to ensure that the resource does not leak. Note that the close() call happens no matter how the block completes.

      # The enhanced try-with-resource statements

      The try-with-resources statement can be enhanced with catch and finally blocks, as with the pre-Java 7 try-catch-finally syntax. The following code snippet adds a catch block to our previous one to deal with the FileNotFoundException that the PrintStream constructor can throw:

      try (PrintStream stream = new PrintStream("hello.txt")) {
          stream.println("Hello world!");
      } catch (FileNotFoundException ex) {
          System.err.println("Cannot open the file");
      } finally {
          System.err.println("All done");
      }
      
      

      If either the resource initialization or the try block throws the exception, then the catch block will be executed. The finally block will always be executed, as with a conventional try-catch-finally statement.

      There are a couple of things to note though:

      • The resource variable is out of scope in the catch and finally blocks.
      • The resource cleanup will happen before the statement tries to match the catch block.
      • If the automatic resource cleanup threw an exception, then that could be caught in one of the catch blocks.

      # Managing multiple resources

      The code snippets above show a single resource being managed. In fact, try-with-resources can manage multiple resources in one statement. For example:

      try (InputStream is = new FileInputStream(file1);
           OutputStream os = new FileOutputStream(file2)) {
          // Copy 'is' to 'os'
      }
      
      

      This behaves as you would expect. Both is and os are closed automatically at the end of the try block. There are a couple of points to note:

      • The initializations occur in the code order, and later resource variable initializers can use of the values of the earlier ones.
      • All resource variables that were successfully initialized will be cleaned up.
      • Resource variables are cleaned up in reverse order of their declarations.

      Thus, in the above example, is is initialized before os and cleaned up after it, and is will be cleaned up if there is an exception while initializing os.

      # Equivalence of try-with-resource and classical try-catch-finally

      The Java Language Specification specifies the behavior of try-with-resource forms in terms of the classical try-catch-finally statement. (Please refer to the JLS for the full details.)

      For example, this basic try-with-resource :

      try (PrintStream stream = new PrintStream("hello.txt")) {
          stream.println("Hello world!");
      }
      
      

      is defined to be equivalent to this try-catch-finally:

      // Note that the constructor is not part of the try-catch statement
      PrintStream stream = new PrintStream("hello.txt");
      
      // This variable is used to keep track of the primary exception thrown
      // in the try statement. If an exception is thrown in the try block,
      // any exception thrown by AutoCloseable.close() will be suppressed.
      Throwable primaryException = null;
      
      // The actual try block
      try {
          stream.println("Hello world!");
      } catch (Throwable t) {
          // If an exception is thrown, remember it for the finally block
          primaryException = t;
          throw t;
      } finally {
          if (primaryException == null) {
              // If no exception was thrown so far, exceptions thrown in close() will
              // not be caught and therefore be passed on to the enclosing code.
              stream.close();
          } else {
              // If an exception has already been thrown, any exception thrown in
              // close() will be suppressed as it is likely to be related to the
              // previous exception. The suppressed exception can be retrieved
              // using primaryException.getSuppressed().
              try {
                  stream.close();
              } catch (Throwable suppressedException) {
                  primaryException.addSuppressed(suppressedException);
              }
          }
      }
      
      

      (The JLS specifies that the actual t and primaryException variables will be invisible to normal Java code.)

      The enhanced form of try-with-resources is specified as an equivalence with the basic form. For example:

      try (PrintStream stream = new PrintStream(fileName)) {
          stream.println("Hello world!");
      } catch (NullPointerException ex) {
          System.err.println("Null filename");
      } finally {
          System.err.println("All done");    
      }
      
      

      is equivalent to:

      try {
          try (PrintStream stream = new PrintStream(fileName)) {
              stream.println("Hello world!");
          }
      } catch (NullPointerException ex) {
          System.err.println("Null filename");
      } finally {
          System.err.println("All done");    
      }    
      
      

      # Custom Exceptions

      Under most circumstances, it is simpler from a code-design standpoint to use existing generic Exception classes when throwing exceptions. This is especially true if you only need the exception to carry a simple error message. In that case, RuntimeException is usually preferred, since it is not a checked Exception. Other exception classes exist for common classes of errors:

      Cases where you do want to use a custom exception class include the following:

      • You are writing an API or library for use by others, and you want to allow users of your API to be able to specifically catch and handle exceptions from your API, and be able to differentiate those exceptions from other, more generic exceptions.
      • You are throwing exceptions for a specific kind of error in one part of your program, which you want to catch and handle in another part of your program, and you want to be able to differentiate these errors from other, more generic errors.

      You can create your own custom exceptions by extending RuntimeException for an unchecked exception, or checked exception by extending any Exception which is not also subclass of RuntimeException, because:

      Subclasses of Exception that are not also subclasses of RuntimeException are checked exceptions

      public class StringTooLongException extends RuntimeException {
          // Exceptions can have methods and fields like other classes
          // those can be useful to communicate information to pieces of code catching
          // such an exception
          public final String value;
          public final int maximumLength;
      
          public StringTooLongException(String value, int maximumLength){
              super(String.format("String exceeds maximum Length of %s: %s", maximumLength, value));
              this.value = value;
              this.maximumLength = maximumLength;
          }
      }
      
      

      Those can be used just as predefined exceptions:

      void validateString(String value){
          if (value.length() > 30){
              throw new StringTooLongException(value, 30);
          }
      }
      
      

      And the fields can be used where the exception is caught and handled:

      void anotherMethod(String value){
          try {
              validateString(value);
          } catch(StringTooLongException e){
              System.out.println("The string '" + e.value + 
                      "' was longer than the max of " + e.maximumLength );
          }
      }
      
      

      Keep in mind that, according to Oracle's Java Documentation:

      [...] If a client can reasonably be expected to recover from an exception, make it a checked exception. If a client cannot do anything to recover from the exception, make it an unchecked exception.

      More:

      # Handling InterruptedException

      InterruptedException is a confusing beast - it shows up in seemingly innocuous methods like Thread.sleep(), but handling it incorrectly leads to hard-to-manage code that behaves poorly in concurrent environments.

      At its most basic, if an InterruptedException is caught it means someone, somewhere, called Thread.interrupt() on the thread your code is currently running in. You might be inclined to say "It's my code! I'll never interrupt it!" and therefore do something like this:

      // Bad. Don't do this.
      try {
        Thread.sleep(1000);
      } catch (InterruptedException e) {
        // disregard
      }
      
      

      But this is exactly the wrong way to handle an "impossible" event occurring. If you know your application will never encounter an InterruptedException you should treat such an event as a serious violation of your program's assumptions and exit as quickly as possible.

      The proper way to handle an "impossible" interrupt is like so:

      // When nothing will interrupt your code
      try {
        Thread.sleep(1000);
      } catch (InterruptedException e) {
        Thread.currentThread().interrupt();
        throw new AssertionError(e);
      }
      
      

      This does two things; it first restores the interrupt status of the thread (as if the InterruptedException had not been thrown in the first place), and then it throws an AssertionError indicating the basic invariants of your application have been violated. If you know for certain that you'll never interrupt the thread this code runs in this is safe since the catch block should never be reached.

      Using Guava's Uninterruptibles class helps simplify this pattern; calling Uninterruptibles.sleepUninterruptibly() disregards the interrupted state of a thread until the sleep duration has expired (at which point it's restored for later calls to inspect and throw their own InterruptedException). If you know you'll never interrupt such code this safely avoids needing to wrap your sleep calls in a try-catch block.

      More often, however, you cannot guarantee that your thread will never be interrupted. In particular if you're writing code that will be executed by an Executor or some other thread-management it's critical that your code responds promptly to interrupts, otherwise your application will stall or even deadlock.

      In such cases the best thing to do is generally to allow the InterruptedException to propagate up the call stack, adding a throws InterruptedException to each method in turn. This may seem kludgy but it's actually a desirable property - your method's signatures now indicates to callers that it will respond promptly to interrupts.

      // Let the caller determine how to handle the interrupt if you're unsure
      public void myLongRunningMethod() throws InterruptedException {
        ...
      }
      
      

      In limited cases (e.g. while overriding a method that doesn't throw any checked exceptions) you can reset the interrupted status without raising an exception, expecting whatever code is executed next to handle the interrupt. This delays handling the interruption but doesn't suppress it entirely.

      // Suppresses the exception but resets the interrupted state letting later code
      // detect the interrupt and handle it properly.
      try {
        Thread.sleep(1000);
      } catch (InterruptedException e) {
        Thread.currentThread().interrupt();
        return ...; // your expectations are still broken at this point - try not to do more work.
      }
      
      

      # Return statements in try catch block

      Although it's bad practice, it's possible to add multiple return statements in a exception handling block:

      
      public static int returnTest(int number){
          try{
              if(number%2 == 0) throw new Exception("Exception thrown");
              else return x;
          }
          catch(Exception e){
              return 3;
          }
          finally{
              return 7;
          }
      }
      
      

      This method will always return 7 since the finally block associated with the try/catch block is executed before anything is returned. Now, as finally has return 7;, this value supersedes the try/catch return values.

      If the catch block returns a primitive value and that primitive value is subsequently changed in the finally block, the value returned in the catch block will be returned and the changes from the finally block will be ignored.

      The example below will print "0", not "1".

      public class FinallyExample {
      
          public static void main(String[] args) {
              int n = returnTest(4);
              
              System.out.println(n);
          }
      
          public static int returnTest(int number) {
              
              int returnNumber = 0; 
              
              try {
                  if (number % 2 == 0)
                      throw new Exception("Exception thrown");
                  else
                      return returnNumber;
              } catch (Exception e) {
                  return returnNumber;
              } finally {
                  returnNumber = 1;
              }
          }
      }
      
      

      # The Java Exception Hierarchy - Unchecked and Checked Exceptions

      All Java exceptions are instances of classes in the Exception class hierarchy. This can be represented as follows:

    • [`java.lang.Throwable`](https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/Throwable.html) - This is the base class for all exception classes. Its methods and constructors implement a range of functionality common to all exceptions.
      • [`java.lang.Exception`](https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/Exception.html) - This is the superclass of all normal exceptions.
          - various standard and custom exception classes.
        • [`java.lang.RuntimeException`](https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/RuntimeException.html) - This the superclass of all normal exceptions that are **unchecked exceptions**.
            - various standard and custom runtime exception classes.

            Notes:

            1. The distinction between checked and unchecked exceptions is described below.
            2. The Throwable, Exception and RuntimeException class should be treated as abstract; see Pitfall - Throwing Throwable, Exception, Error or RuntimeException.
            3. The Error exceptions are thrown by the JVM in situations where it would be unsafe or unwise for an application to attempt to recover.
            4. It would be unwise to declare custom subtypes of Throwable. Java tools and libraries may assume that Error and Exception are the only direct subtypes of Throwable, and misbehave if that assumption is incorrect.

            # Checked versus Unchecked Exceptions

            One of the criticisms of exception support in some programming languages is that is difficult to know which exceptions a given method or procedure might throw. Given that an unhandled exception is liable to cause a program to crash, this can make exceptions a source of fragility.

            The Java language addresses this concern with the checked exception mechanism. First, Java classifies exceptions into two categories:

          • Checked exceptions typically represent anticipated events that an application should be able to deal with. For instance, `IOException` and its subtypes represent error conditions that can occur in I/O operations. Examples include, file opens failing because a file or directory does not exist, network reads and writes failing because a network connection has been broken and so on.
          • Unchecked exceptions typically represent unanticipated events that an application cannot deal with. These are typically the result of a bug in the application.
          • (In the following, "thrown" refers to any exception thrown explicitly (by a throw statement), or implicitly (in a failed dereference, type cast and so on). Similarly, "propagated" refers to an exception that was thrown in a nested call, and not caught within that call. The sample code below will illustrate this.)

            The second part of the checked exception mechanism is that there are restrictions on methods where a checked exception may occur:

            • When a checked exception is thrown or propagated in a method, it must either be caught by the method, or listed in the method's throws clause. (The significance of the throws clause is described in this example.)
            • When a checked exception is thrown or propagated in an initializer block, it must be caught the the block.
            • A checked exception cannot be propagated by a method call in a field initialization expression. (There is no way to catch such an exception.)

            In short, a checked exception must be either handled, or declared.

            These restrictions do not apply to unchecked exceptions. This includes all cases where an exception is thrown implicitly, since all such cases throw unchecked exceptions.

            # Checked exception examples

            These code snippets are intended to illustrate the checked exception restrictions. In each case, we show a version of the code with a compilation error, and a second version with the error corrected.

            // This declares a custom checked exception.
            public class MyException extends Exception {
                // constructors omitted.
            }
            
            // This declares a custom unchecked exception.
            public class MyException2 extends RuntimeException {
                // constructors omitted.
            }
            
            

            The first example shows how explicitly thrown checked exceptions can be declared as "thrown" if they should not be handled in the method.

            // INCORRECT
            public void methodThrowingCheckedException(boolean flag) {
                int i = 1 / 0;                // Compiles OK, throws ArithmeticException
                if (flag) {
                    throw new MyException();  // Compilation error
                } else {
                    throw new MyException2(); // Compiles OK
                }
            }
            
            // CORRECTED
            public void methodThrowingCheckedException(boolean flag) throws MyException {
                int i = 1 / 0;                // Compiles OK, throws ArithmeticException
                if (flag) {
                    throw new MyException();  // Compilation error
                } else {
                    throw new MyException2(); // Compiles OK
                }
            }
            
            

            The second example shows how a propagated checked exception can be dealt with.

            // INCORRECT 
            public void methodWithPropagatedCheckedException() {
                InputStream is = new FileInputStream("someFile.txt");  // Compilation error
                // FileInputStream throws IOException or a subclass if the file cannot 
                // be opened.  IOException is a checked exception.
                ...
            }
            
            // CORRECTED (Version A) 
            public void methodWithPropagatedCheckedException() throws IOException {
                InputStream is = new FileInputStream("someFile.txt"); 
                ...
            }
            
            // CORRECTED (Version B) 
            public void methodWithPropagatedCheckedException() {
                try {
                    InputStream is = new FileInputStream("someFile.txt"); 
                    ...
                } catch (IOException ex) {
                    System.out.println("Cannot open file: " + ex.getMessage());
                }
            }
            
            

            The final example shows how to deal with a checked exception in a static field initializer.

            // INCORRECT
            public class Test {
                private static final InputStream is = 
                        new FileInputStream("someFile.txt");  // Compilation error
            }
            
            // CORRECTED
            public class Test {
                private static final InputStream is;
                static {
                    InputStream tmp = null;
                    try {
                        tmp = new FileInputStream("someFile.txt");
                    } catch (IOException ex) {
                        System.out.println("Cannot open file: " + ex.getMessage());
                    }
                    is = tmp;
                }
            }
            
            

            Note that in this last case, we also have to deal with the problems that is cannot be assigned to more than once, and yet also has to be assigned to, even in the case of an exception.

            # Introduction

            Exceptions are errors which occur when a program is executing. Consider the Java program below which divides two integers.

            class Division {
                public static void main(String[] args) {
             
                    int a, b, result;
             
                    Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);
                    System.out.println("Input two integers");
             
                    a = input.nextInt();
                    b = input.nextInt();
             
                    result = a / b;
             
                    System.out.println("Result = " + result);
                }
            }
            
            

            Now we compile and execute the above code, and see the output for an attempted division by zero:

            Input two integers
            7 0
            Exception in thread "main" java.lang.ArithmeticException: / by zero 
                at Division.main(Disivion.java:14)
            
            

            Division by zero is an invalid operation that would produce a value that cannot be represented as an integer. Java deals with this by throwing an exception. In this case, the exception is an instance of the ArithmeticException class.

            Note: The example on creating and reading stack traces explains what the output after the two numbers means.

            The utility of an exception is the flow control that it allows. Without using exceptions, a typical solution to this problem may be to first check if b == 0:

            class Division {
                public static void main(String[] args) {
             
                    int a, b, result;
            
                    Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);
                    System.out.println("Input two integers");
             
                    a = input.nextInt();
                    b = input.nextInt();
             
                    if (b == 0) {
                        System.out.println("You cannot divide by zero.");
                        return;
                    }
            
                    result = a / b;
             
                    System.out.println("Result = " + result);
                }
            }
            
            

            This prints the message You cannot divide by zero. to the console and quits the program in a graceful way when the user tries to divide by zero. An equivalent way of dealing with this problem via exception handling would be to replace the if flow control with a try-catch block:

            ...
            
            a = input.nextInt();
            b = input.nextInt();
             
            try {
                result = a / b;
            }
            catch (ArithmeticException e) {
                System.out.println("An ArithmeticException occurred. Perhaps you tried to divide by zero.");
                return;
            }
             
            ...  
            
            

            A try catch block is executed as follows:

            1. Begin executing the code in the try block.
            2. If an exception occurs in the try block, immediately abort and check to see if this exception is caught by the catch block (in this case, when the Exception is an instance of ArithmeticException).
            3. If the exception is caught, it is assigned to the variable e and the catch block is executed.
            4. If either the try or catch block is completed (i.e. no uncaught exceptions occur during code execution) then continue to execute code below the try-catch block.

            It is generally considered good practice to use exception handling as part of the normal flow control of an application where behavior would otherwise be undefined or unexpected. For instance, instead of returning null when a method fails, it is usually better practice to throw an exception so that the application making use of the method can define its own flow control for the situation via exception handling of the kind illustrated above. In some sense, this gets around the problem of having to return a particular type, as any one of multiple kinds of exceptions may be thrown to indicate the specific problem that occurred.

            For more advice on how and how not to use exceptions, refer to Java Pitfalls - Exception usage

            # Creating and reading stacktraces

            When an exception object is created (i.e. when you new it), the Throwable constructor captures information about the context in which the exception was created. Later on, this information can be output in the form of a stacktrace, which can be used to help diagnose the problem that caused the exception in the first place.

            # Printing a stacktrace

            Printing a stacktrace is simply a matter of calling the printStackTrace() method. For example:

            try {
                int a = 0;
                int b = 0;
                int c = a / b;
            } catch (ArithmeticException ex) {
                // This prints the stacktrace to standard output
                ex.printStackTrace();
            }
            
            

            The printStackTrace() method without arguments will print to the application's standard output; i.e. the current System.out. There are also printStackTrace(PrintStream) and printStackTrace(PrintWriter) overloads that print to a specified Stream or Writer.

            Notes:

          • The stacktrace does not include the details of the exception itself. You can use the `toString()` method to get those details; e.g.
               // Print exception and stacktrace
               System.out.println(ex);
               ex.printStackTrace();
            
            
          • Stacktrace printing should be used sparingly; see [Pitfall - Excessive or inappropriate stacktraces](http://stackoverflow.com/documentation/java/5381/java-pitfalls-exception-usage/19955/pitfall-excessive-or-inappropriate-stacktraces#t=201610200112090788291) . It is often better to use a logging framework, and pass the exception object to be logged.
          • # Understanding a stacktrace

            Consider the following simple program consisting of two classes in two files. (We have shown the filenames and added line numbers for illustration purposes.)

            File: "Main.java"
            1   public class Main {
            2       public static void main(String[] args) {
            3           new Test().foo();
            4       }
            5   }
            
            File: "Test.java"
            1   class Test {
            2       public void foo() {
            3           bar();
            4       }
            5   
            6       public int bar() {
            7           int a = 1;
            8           int b = 0;
            9           return a / b;
            10      }
            
            

            When these files are compiled and run, we will get the following output.

            Exception in thread "main" java.lang.ArithmeticException: / by zero
                    at Test.bar(Test.java:9)
                    at Test.foo(Test.java:3)
                    at Main.main(Main.java:3)
            
            

            Let us read this one line at a time to figure out what it is telling us.

            Line #1 tells us that the thread called "main" has terminated due to an uncaught exception. The full name of the exception is java.lang.ArithmeticException, and the exception message is "/ by zero".

            If we look up the javadocs for this exception, it says:

            Thrown when an exceptional arithmetic condition has occurred. For example, an integer "divide by zero" throws an instance of this class.

            Indeed, the message "/ by zero" is a strong hint that the cause of the exception is that some code has attempted to divide something by zero. But what?

            The remaining 3 lines are the stack trace. Each line represents a method (or constructor) call on the call stack, and each one tells us three things:

            • the name of the class and method that was being executed,
            • the source code filename,
            • the source code line number of the statement that was being executed

            These lines of a stacktrace are listed with the frame for the current call at the top. The top frame in our example above is in the Test.bar method, and at line 9 of the Test.java file. That is the following line:

            
               return a / b;
            
            

            If we look a couple of lines earlier in the file to where b is initialized, it is apparent that b will have the value zero. We can say without any doubt that this is the cause of the exception.

            If we needed to go further, we can see from the stacktrace that bar() was called from foo() at line 3 of Test.java, and that foo() was in turn called from Main.main().

            Note: The class and method names in the stack frames are the internal names for the classes and methods. You will need to recognize the following unusual cases:

            • A nested or inner class will look like "OuterClass$InnerClass".
            • An anonymous inner class will look like "OuterClass$1", "OuterClass$2", etcetera.
            • When code in a constructor, instance field initializer or an instance initializer block is being executed, the method name will be "".
            • When code in a static field initializer or static initializer block is being executed, the method name will be "".

            (In some versions of Java, the stacktrace formatting code will detect and elide repeated stackframe sequences, as can occur when an application fails due to excessive recursion.)

            # Exception chaining and nested stacktraces

            Exception chaining happens when a piece of code catches an exception, and then creates and throws a new one, passing the first exception as the cause. Here is an example:

            File: Test,java
            1   public class Test {
            2      int foo() {
            3           return 0 / 0;
            4      }
            5
            6       public Test() {
            7           try {
            8               foo();
            9           } catch (ArithmeticException ex) {
            10              throw new RuntimeException("A bad thing happened", ex);
            11          }
            12      }
            13
            14      public static void main(String[] args) {
            15          new Test();
            16      }
            17  }
            
            

            When the above class is compiled and run, we get the following stacktrace:

            Exception in thread "main" java.lang.RuntimeException: A bad thing happened
                    at Test.<init>(Test.java:10)
                    at Test.main(Test.java:15)
            Caused by: java.lang.ArithmeticException: / by zero
                    at Test.foo(Test.java:3)
                    at Test.<init>(Test.java:8)
                    ... 1 more
            
            

            The stacktrace starts with the class name, method and call stack for the exception that (in this case) caused the application to crash. This is followed by a "Caused by:" line that reports the cause exception. The class name and message are reported, followed by the cause exception's stack frames. The trace ends with an "... N more" which indicates that the last N frames are the same as for the previous exception.

            The "Caused by:" is only included in the output when the primary exception's cause is not null). Exceptions can be chained indefinitely, and in that case the stacktrace can have multiple "Caused by:" traces.

            Note: the cause mechanism was only exposed in the Throwable API in Java 1.4.0. Prior to that, exception chaining needed to be implemented by the application using a custom exception field to represent the cause, and a custom printStackTrace method.

            # Capturing a stacktrace as a String

            Sometimes, an application needs to be able to capture a stacktrace as a Java String, so that it can be used for other purposes. The general approach for doing this is to create a temporary OutputStream or Writer that writes to an in-memory buffer and pass that to the printStackTrace(...).

            The Apache Commons and Guava libraries provide utility methods for capturing a stacktrace as a String:

            org.apache.commons.lang.exception.ExceptionUtils.getStackTrace(Throwable)
            
            com.google.common.base.Throwables.getStackTraceAsString(Throwable)
            
            

            If you cannot use third party libraries in your code base, then the following method with do the task:

            
              /**
                 * Returns the string representation of the stack trace.
                 *
                 * @param throwable the throwable
                 * @return the string.
                 */
                public static String stackTraceToString(Throwable throwable) {
                    StringWriter stringWriter = new StringWriter();
                    throwable.printStackTrace(new PrintWriter(stringWriter));
                    return stringWriter.toString();
                }
            
            

            Note that if your intention is to analyze the stacktrace, it is simpler to use getStackTrace() and getCause() than to attempt to parse a stacktrace.

            # Throwing an exception

            The following example shows the basics of throwing an exception:

            public void checkNumber(int number) throws IllegalArgumentException {
                if (number < 0) {
                    throw new IllegalArgumentException("Number must be positive: " + number);
                }
            }
            
            

            The exception is thrown on the 3rd line. This statement can be broken down into two parts:

          • `new IllegalArgumentException(...)` is creating an instance of the `IllegalArgumentException` class, with a message that describes the error that exception is reporting.
          • `throw ...` is then throwing the exception object.
          • When the exception is thrown, it causes the enclosing statements to terminate abnormally until the exception is handled. This is described in other examples.

            It is good practice to both create and throw the exception object in a single statement, as shown above. It is also good practice to include a meaningful error message in the exception to help the programmer to understand the cause of the problem. However, this is not necessarily the message that you should be showing to the end user. (For a start, Java has no direct support for internationalizing exception messages.)

            There are a couple more points to be made:

          • We have declared the `checkNumber` as `throws IllegalArgumentException`. This was not strictly necessary, since `IllegalArgumentException` is a checked exception; see [The Java Exception Hierarchy - Unchecked and Checked Exceptions](http://stackoverflow.com/documentation/java/89/exceptions/3058/types-of-exceptions-unchecked-and-checked-exceptions#t=201610240630113832437). However, it is good practice to do this, and also to include the exceptions thrown a method's javadoc comments.
          • Code immediately after a `throw` statement is **unreachable**. Hence if we wrote this:
             throw new IllegalArgumentException("it is bad");
             return;
            
            

            the compiler would report a compilation error for the return statement.

          • # Exception chaining

            Many standard exceptions have a constructor with a second cause argument in addition to the conventional message argument. The cause allows you to chain exceptions. Here is an example.

            First we define an unchecked exception that our application is going throw when it encounters a non-recoverable error. Note that we have included a constructor that accepts a cause argument.

            
               public class AppErrorException extends RuntimeException {
                    public AppErrorException() {
                        super();
                    }
            
                    public AppErrorException(String message) {
                        super(message);
                    }
            
                    public AppErrorException(String message, Throwable cause) {
                        super(message, cause);
                    }
                }
            
            

            Next, here is some code that illustrates exception chaining.

            
               public String readFirstLine(String file) throws AppErrorException {
                    try (Reader r = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(file))) {
                        String line = r.readLine();
                        if (line != null) {
                            return line;
                        } else {
                            throw new AppErrorException("File is empty: " + file);
                        }
                    } catch (IOException ex) {
                        throw new AppErrorException("Cannot read file: " + file, ex);
                    }
                }
            
            

            The throw within the try block detects a problem and reports it via an exception with a simple message. By contrast, the throw within the catch block is handling the IOException by wrapping it in a new (checked) exception. However, it is not throwing away the original exception. By passing the IOException as the cause, we record it so that it can be printed in the stacktrace, as explained in Creating and reading stacktraces.

            # Advanced features of Exceptions

            This example covers some advanced features and use-cases for Exceptions.

            # Examining the callstack programmatically

            The primary use of exception stacktraces is to provide information about an application error and its context so that the programmer can diagnose and fix the problem. Sometimes it can be used for other things. For example, a SecurityManager class may need to examine the call stack to decide whether the code that is making a call should be trusted.

            You can use exceptions to examine the call stack programatically as follows:

            
               Exception ex = new Exception();   // this captures the call stack
                StackTraceElement[] frames = ex.getStackTrace();
                System.out.println("This method is " + frames[0].getMethodName());
                System.out.println("Called from method " + frames[1].getMethodName());
            
            

            There are some important caveats on this:

          • The information available in a `StackTraceElement` is limited. There is no more information available than is displayed by `printStackTrace`. (The values of the local variables in the frame are not available.)
          • The javadocs for `getStackTrace()` state that a JVM is permitted to leave out frames:
            Some virtual machines may, under some circumstances, omit one or more stack frames from the stack trace. In the extreme case, a virtual machine that has no stack trace information concerning this throwable is permitted to return a zero-length array from this method.
          • # Optimizing exception construction

            As mentioned elsewhere, constructing an exception is rather expensive because it entails capturing and recording information about all stack frames on the current thread. Sometimes, we know that that information is never going to be used for a given exception; e.g. the stacktrace will never be printed. In that case, there is an implementation trick that we can use in a custom exception to cause the information to not be captured.

            The stack frame information needed for stacktraces, is captured when the Throwable constructors call the Throwable.fillInStackTrace() method. This method is public, which means that a subclass can override it. The trick is to override the method inherited from Throwable with one that does nothing; e.g.

            
             public class MyException extends Exception {
                  // constructors
            
                  @Override 
                  public void fillInStackTrace() {
                      // do nothing
                  }
              }
            
            

            The problem with this approach is that an exception that overrides fillInStackTrace() can never capture the stacktrace, and is useless in scenarios where you need one.

            # Erasing or replacing the stacktrace

            In some situations, the stacktrace for an exception created in the normal way contains either incorrect information, or information that the developer does not want to reveal to the user. For these scenarios, the Throwable.setStackTrace can be used to replace the array of StackTraceElement objects that holds the information.

            For example, the following can be used to discard an exception's stack information:

            
            exception.setStackTrace(new StackTraceElement[0]);
            
            

            # Suppressed exceptions

            Java 7 introduced the try-with-resources construct, and the associated concept of exception suppression. Consider the following snippet:

            try (Writer w = new BufferedWriter(new FileWriter(someFilename))) {
                // do stuff
                int temp = 0 / 0;    // throws an ArithmeticException
            }
            
            

            When the exception is thrown, the try will call close() on the w which will flush any buffered output and then close the FileWriter. But what happens if an IOException is thrown while flushing the output?

            What happens is that any exception that is thrown while cleaning up a resource is suppressed. The exception is caught, and added to the primary exception's suppressed exception list. Next the try-with-resources will continue with the cleanup of the other resources. Finally, primary exception will be rethrown.

            A similar pattern occurs if an exception it thrown during the resource initialization, or if the try block completes normally. The first exception thrown becomes the primary exception, and subsequent ones arising from cleanup are suppressed.

            The suppressed exceptions can be retrieved from the primary exception object by calling getSuppressedExceptions.

            # The try-finally and try-catch-finally statements

            The try...catch...finally statement combines exception handling with clean-up code. The finally block contains code that will be executed in all circumstances. This makes them suitable for resource management, and other kinds of cleanup.

            # Try-finally

            Here is an example of the simpler (try...finally) form:

            try {
                doSomething();  
            } finally {
                cleanUp();
            }
            
            

            The behavior of the try...finally is as follows:

            • The code in the try block is executed.

            • If no exception was thrown in the try block:

            • The code in the finally block is executed.

            • If the finally block throws an exception, that exception is propagated.

            • Otherwise, control passes to the next statement after the try...finally.

            • The code in the finally block is executed.

            • If the finally block throws an exception, that exception is propagated.

            • Otherwise, the original exception continues to propagate.

            The code within finally block will always be executed. (The only exceptions are if System.exit(int) is called, or if the JVM panics.) Thus a finally block is the correct place code that always needs to be executed; e.g. closing files and other resources or releasing locks.

            # try-catch-finally

            Our second example shows how catch and finally can be used together. It also illustrates that cleaning up resources is not straightforward.

            // This code snippet writes the first line of a file to a string
            String result = null;
            Reader reader = null;
            try {
                reader = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(fileName));
                result = reader.readLine();
            } catch (IOException ex) {
                Logger.getLogger.warn("Unexpected IO error", ex);  // logging the exception
            } finally {
                if (reader != null) {
                    try {
                        reader.close();
                    } catch (IOException ex) {
                        // ignore / discard this exception
                    }
                }
            }
            
            

            The complete set of (hypothetical) behaviors of try...catch...finally in this example are too complicated to describe here. The simple version is that the code in the finally block will always be executed.

            Looking at this from the perspective of resource management:

            • We declare the "resource" (i.e. reader variable) before the try block so that it will be in scope for the finally block.
            • By putting the new FileReader(...), the catch is able to handle any IOError exception from thrown when opening the file.
            • We need a reader.close() in the finally block because there are some exception paths that we cannot intercept either in the try block or in catch block.
            • However, since an exception might have been thrown before reader was initialized, we also need an explicit null test.
            • Finally, the reader.close() call might (hypothetically) throw an exception. We don't care about that, but if we don't catch the exception at source, we would need to deal with it further up the call stack.

            Java 7 and later provide an alternative try-with-resources syntax which significantly simplifies resource clean-up.

            # The 'throws' clause in a method declaration

            Java's checked exception mechanism requires the programmer to declare that certain methods could throw specifed checked exceptions. This is done using the throws clause. For example:

            public class OddNumberException extends Exception { // a checked exception
            }
            
            public void checkEven(int number) throws OddNumberException {
                if (number % 2 != 0) {
                    throw new OddNumberException();
                }
            }
            
            

            The throws OddNumberException declares that a call to checkEven could throw an exception that is of type OddNumberException.

            A throws clause can declare a list of types, and can include unchecked exceptions as well as checked exceptions.

            public void checkEven(Double number) 
                    throws OddNumberException, ArithmeticException {
                if (!Double.isFinite(number)) {
                    throw new ArithmeticException("INF or NaN");
                } else if (number % 2 != 0) {
                    throw new OddNumberException();
                }
            }
            
            

            # What is the point of declaring unchecked exceptions as thrown?

            The throws clause in a method declaration serves two purposes:

          • It tells the compiler which exceptions are thrown so that the compiler can report uncaught (checked) exceptions as errors.
          • It tells a programmer who is writing code that calls the method what exceptions to expect. For this purpose, it often makes to senses to include unchecked exceptions in a `throws` list.
          • Note: that the throws list is also used by the javadoc tool when generating API documentation, and by a typical IDE's "hover text" method tips.

            # Throws and method overriding

            The throws clause forms part of a method's signature for the purpose of method overriding. An override method can be declared with the same set of checked exceptions as thrown by the overridden method, or with a subset. However the override method cannot add extra checked exceptions. For example:

            @Override
            public void checkEven(int number) throws NullPointerException // OK—NullPointerException is an unchecked exception
                ...
            
            @Override
            public void checkEven(Double number) throws OddNumberException // OK—identical to the superclass
                ...
            
            class PrimeNumberException extends OddNumberException {}
            class NonEvenNumberException extends OddNumberException {}
            
            @Override
            public void checkEven(int number) throws PrimeNumberException, NonEvenNumberException // OK—these are both subclasses
            
            @Override
            public void checkEven(Double number) throws IOExcepion         // ERROR
            
            

            The reason for this rule is that if an overriden method can throw a checked exception that the overridden method could not throw, that would break type substitutability.

            # Syntax

          • void someMethod() throws SomeException { } //method declaration, forces method callers to catch if SomeException is a checked exception type

          • try {
            someMethod(); //code that might throw an exception 
            
            

            }

          • catch (SomeException e) {

             System.out.println("SomeException was thrown!"); //code that will run if certain exception (SomeException) is thrown
            
            

            }

          • finally {

             //code that will always run, whether try block finishes or not
            
            

            }