New in Java 8 : Default and static methods in interfaces

Default method’s  (aka Defender methods) in interfaces are new in Java 8. They enable you to define a default implementation of a method in the interface itself.

If an interface is implemented by several classes, it’s hard to add method’s afterwards, as it will break the code and require all implementing classes to define the method as well. Adding a method to the interface, and defining a default implementation for it, will resolve this problem.

Here’s a code example :


public Interface Draw {

public void drawCircle();

   default public void drawRectangle() {

      System.out.println("draw a rectangle");

   }

}

Implementing classes that have not defined the drawRectangle() method, will print “draw a rectangle” when drawRectangle() is executed on them.

Interfaces that extend this interface can

  • define nothing, in which case the method will be inherited
  • declare the default method again with no implementation, which will make it abstract
  • Redefine the default method so it get’s overridden

These default methods were added to Java in order to be able to implement the new Streams API. As they needed to update the Collection interface, adding the stream() and parallelStream() methods. If they didn’t had the default method, they should have updated all classes that implement the Collection interface.

Static methods

Also new in Java 8 is the use of static method’s in an Interface.

So now, drawRectangle()  could also be defined as a static method, but that would give the impression that it is a utility or helper method, and not part of the essential core interface. So in that case, it’s better to go for the default method.

You could argument that an abstract class would have done the job as well. But as Java has single inheritance, that choice would narrow down our the design possibilities. And as the poster above your bed is shouting every day : ‘Favor composition over inheritance!!’ right ? So we want to avoid inheritance anyway.

So what will happen if you try to implement 2 interfaces with the same default methods ? Well, you will get the following compile time error :

Duplicate default methods named [methodname] with the parameters () and () are inherited from the types [interface1] and [interface2]

To avoid this error, choose an implementation of one of the interfaces :

interface Draw{
   default void circle() {
     System.out.println("draw circle");
   }
}
interface Print{
   default void circle() {
     System.out.println("print circle");
   }
}

class MyClass implements Draw, Print {
   @Override
   public void circle() {
     Draw.super.circle();
   }
}

That’s it, a quick overview of this new feature in Java 8.

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