use case for extending enum, but this is not possible in java


L

Laura Schmidt

Hi,

I have found a need to extend enum, but this is not possible in java.
Take a look at the situation:

In an application, there is an enum ListCommand that enumerates the
commands a user may execute on list entries:

public enum ListCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
}

There is an interface that uses this enum:

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

And there is a generic Listing class that is used to show customized
lists in the GUI and which uses the above interface:

public class Listing<T>
{
...
ListCommandProcessor processor;
...
}

So far, so good.

Now I am making a cut: The generic class Listing<T> should be moved into
a generic java library, so that it can be used by different
applications. So I also need to move the interface ListCommandProcesor
into this library, and this would implicate that I also move the enum
ListCommand into the library. But the enum ListCommand ist application
specific. If I move it to the library, it must be extendable somehow. If
there were no limitations in the java language, I would separate the
concerns of library and application like this:

--- library:

public enum ListCommand
{
// empty at library level
}

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

--- application:

public enum AppListCommand extends ListCommand
{
OPEN,
CLOSE,
SOMETHINGSPECIAL;
}

public class MyApp extends ListCommandProcessor
{
...
Listing<XYZ> listing = new Listing<XYZ> ();
listing.setProcessor (this);

public void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd)
{
AppListCommand c = (AppListCommand) cmd;

switch (c)
{
...
}
}
}

This would be my solution, but it is not possible in java to extend
enums. But I need to make a cut somewhere in order to move Listing<T>
into the generic library. The only solution I can imagine is to change

onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);

into

onListCommand (int cmd);

But then I would loose the beautiful type binding and I will soon find
myself defining list commands like it was done in the 90's in C:

public static final int CMD_OPEN = 1;
public static final int CMD_EDIT = 2;
public static final int CMD_DELETE = 3;
public static final int CMD_SOMETHINGSPECIAL = 55;

I know that this would be a way out, but I want to make sure that there
is no better solution.

How would you do this?

Thank you,
Laura
 
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S

Stefan Ram

Laura Schmidt said:
ListCommand into the library. But the enum ListCommand ist application
specific. If I move it to the library, it must be extendable somehow. If

The members of an enumeration are static AFAIK.

I see two possibilities:

1. Use a dynamic collection (like java.util.Set<java.lang.String>)
instead of an enum.

2. Don't put application-dependent (AD) code into a
library that is intended to be an
application-independent (AI) library. If class
Listing<T> is large, you can split it into an AI part and
an AD part (which sometimes requires some skill and
patterns), then you can move the AI part into the AI library,
while the AD part needs to be in each application.

3. If you absolutely insist, you could put code into the
library that will generate the class file (byte code)
for the enum at run time.
 
S

Steven Simpson

In an application, there is an enum ListCommand that enumerates the
commands a user may execute on list entries:

public enum ListCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
}

There is an interface that uses this enum:

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

And there is a generic Listing class that is used to show customized
lists in the GUI and which uses the above interface:

public class Listing<T>
{
...
ListCommandProcessor processor;
...
}

So far, so good.

Now I am making a cut: The generic class Listing<T> should be moved
into a generic java library, so that it can be used by different
applications. So I also need to move the interface ListCommandProcesor
into this library, and this would implicate that I also move the enum
ListCommand into the library. But the enum ListCommand ist application
specific. If I move it to the library, it must be extendable somehow.

Does your Listing class demand anything of ListCommand? Does it even
require it to be an enum? If not, does this help?:

// In library
public interface Processor<E> {
void onListCommand(E cmd); // inappropriate name now?
}

public class Listing<T, E> {
Processor<E> processor;
public void setProcessor(Processor<E> processor) {
this.processor = processor;
}
}

// In application
public enum AppListCommand {
OPEN, CLOSE, STUFF;
}

public class MyApp extends Processor<AppListCommand> {
{
Listing<XYZ, AppListCommand> listing = ...;
listing.setProcessor(this);
}

public void onListCommand(AppListCommand cmd) {
switch (cmd) { ... }
}
}

Depending on unspecified factors, you might be able to use Processor<?
super E>, or have to use Listing<T, E extends Enum<E>>.
 
M

Marcel Müller

In an application, there is an enum ListCommand that enumerates the
commands a user may execute on list entries:

public enum ListCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
}

There is an interface that uses this enum:

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
} [...]
public enum AppListCommand extends ListCommand
{
OPEN,
CLOSE,
SOMETHINGSPECIAL;
}

I wished something like that in other languages too. However, things are
not that easy as they appear. We had a similar discussion in the C++
group some time ago.

Extending a class means that you provide all the functionality of the
base class and anyone that can accept the base can deal with your
extension as well. But this does not hold true in your case.
What should a method accepting the base enum do when it receives an
unexpected value outside the range of the declared enum type? Note that
this is the other way around than for overridden methods. With methods
you call the overridden method with the parameters of definition in the
base class. What you expect is, that a method, that takes the base enum
parameters is called with parameters of your derived enum. It is like
covariance versus contravariance. You may always pass a refined type as
argument, but you can only receive a more general type than declared
from the return value. The /value/ of your enum is more like the return
value. So an instance taking the larger number of constants may also
store the values of the base enum, i.e. a method that can deal with the
extended enum may safely be called with the base enum type, but not the
other way around.

This would be my solution, but it is not possible in java to extend
enums.

Your requirements requires runtime polymorphism. Enums are not
polymorphic. In no language that I know of.

But I need to make a cut somewhere in order to move Listing<T>
into the generic library. The only solution I can imagine is to change
onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);

into

onListCommand (int cmd);

But then I would loose the beautiful type binding and I will soon find
myself defining list commands like it was done in the 90's in C:
public static final int CMD_OPEN = 1;
public static final int CMD_EDIT = 2;
public static final int CMD_DELETE = 3;
public static final int CMD_SOMETHINGSPECIAL = 55;

You can always use strong typing by wrapping the ints with a class.
You may also drop the int entirely and use instance equality instead.
This is approximately the way enums work in Java. They are basically
syntactic sugar.

class ListCommand
{
protected ListCommand();

public static final ListCommand CMD_OPEN = new ListCommand();
...

public ListCommand[] values()
{ return ...
}
}

If you are smart enough to replace the ListCommand constructor calls by
a private factory, then you might build the values array without
repeating yourself in the values method.

Note that you need to override values() in each derived class. It must
extend super.values() by it's own additions.


Of course, the java language could have implemented the enums this way
unless you declare them final. But because of the pitfalls above and
maybe because in 99% of the use cases enums are not polymorphic, they
have chosen to make them final by default.


Marcel
 
M

markspace

public void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd)
{
AppListCommand c = (AppListCommand) cmd;

switch (c)
{
...
}


I have to agree with Marcel Muller here. Enums, the way you use them,
are not polymorphic. And using a switch to emulate polymorphism is
almost always a bad idea. See Replace Conditional with Polymorphism.

http://www.refactoring.com/catalog/replaceConditionalWithPolymorphism.html

However you can fake it a bit in Java. Java enum are sorta-kinda
polymorphic. (I think that's the technical term.)


interface MyCommand {
Object eval();
}

void onListCommand( MyCommand cmd ) {
System.out.println( cmd.eval() );
}

public enum ListCommand implements MyCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
public Object eval() { return this.ordinal(); }
}

public enum AppListCommand implements MyCommand
{
OPEN,
CLOSE,
SOMETHINGSPECIAL() {
public Object eval() { return "Hi";}};
public Object eval() { return this.ordinal(); }
}

Not compiled or tested, although part was:

public static void main( String[] args )
{
onListCommand( AppListCommand.OPEN, AppListCommand.CLOSE,
AppListCommand.SOMETHINGSPECIAL );
}
private static void onListCommand( MyCommand... cmd )
{
for( MyCommand x : cmd ) {
System.out.println( x.eval() );
}
}
run:
0
1
Hi
BUILD SUCCESSFUL (total time: 1 second)
 
S

Stefan Ram

Laura Schmidt said:
there were no limitations in the java language, I would separate the
concerns of library and application like this:
--- library:
public enum ListCommand
public interface ListCommandProcessor
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
--- application:
public enum AppListCommand extends ListCommand
OPEN,
CLOSE,
SOMETHINGSPECIAL;
public class MyApp extends ListCommandProcessor
listing.setProcessor (this);
public void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd)
AppListCommand c = (AppListCommand) cmd;
How would you do this?

library;

public class Command {}

public interface CommandProcessor
{ void onCommand ( Command cmd ) ... }
/* NB: The semantics are now actually /better/ than
in the quoted fragments, because »cmd« is a /command/,
not a »list command« as quoted above ! */

public class OPEN extends Command { /* possibly: ... */ }
/* NB: we have the inheritance semantics usually recommended,
because »OPEN« /is a/ command! */

public class CLOSE extends Command { /* possibly: ... */ }
public class DELETE extends Command { /* possibly: ... */ }

application:

public class AppCommand extends Command { /* possibly: ... */ }

public class SOMETHINGSPECIAL extends AppCommand { /* possibly: ... */ }

public class MyApp extends CommandProcessor
{ ...
listing.setProcessor( this );

public void onCommand( final Command cmd )
{
AppCommand c =( AppCommand )cmd;
/* this cast will fail when( cmd instanceof OPEN ),
but this is correct, since OPEN /is not/ an AppCommand */ ... }}
 
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R

Robert Klemme

Hi,

I have found a need to extend enum, but this is not possible in java.
Take a look at the situation:

In an application, there is an enum ListCommand that enumerates the
commands a user may execute on list entries:

public enum ListCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
}

There is an interface that uses this enum:

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

And there is a generic Listing class that is used to show customized
lists in the GUI and which uses the above interface:

public class Listing<T>
{
...
ListCommandProcessor processor;
...
}

So far, so good.

Now I am making a cut: The generic class Listing<T> should be moved into
a generic java library, so that it can be used by different
applications. So I also need to move the interface ListCommandProcesor
into this library, and this would implicate that I also move the enum
ListCommand into the library. But the enum ListCommand ist application
specific. If I move it to the library, it must be extendable somehow. If
there were no limitations in the java language, I would separate the
concerns of library and application like this:

--- library:

public enum ListCommand
{
// empty at library level
}

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

--- application:

public enum AppListCommand extends ListCommand
{
OPEN,
CLOSE,
SOMETHINGSPECIAL;
}

public class MyApp extends ListCommandProcessor
{
...
Listing<XYZ> listing = new Listing<XYZ> ();
listing.setProcessor (this);

public void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd)
{
AppListCommand c = (AppListCommand) cmd;

switch (c)
{
...
}
}
}

This would be my solution, but it is not possible in java to extend
enums. But I need to make a cut somewhere in order to move Listing<T>
into the generic library. The only solution I can imagine is to change

onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);

into

onListCommand (int cmd);

But then I would loose the beautiful type binding and I will soon find
myself defining list commands like it was done in the 90's in C:

public static final int CMD_OPEN = 1;
public static final int CMD_EDIT = 2;
public static final int CMD_DELETE = 3;
public static final int CMD_SOMETHINGSPECIAL = 55;

I know that this would be a way out, but I want to make sure that there
is no better solution.

How would you do this?

To me this is pretty clear: ListCommandProcessor is an interface and
needs an application specific implementation anyway to interpret the
argument to onListCommand(). As you do not seem to define specific
methods in ListCommand any implementation of onListCommand() is
basically totally free to do what it needs to do with the argument and
you do not have to constrain the argument type in any way. So you make
it generic. So we have

Library part:


public class Listing<T,C> {
...
private ListCommandProcessor<C> processor;
...
}

public interface ListCommandProcessor<C> {
void onListCommand(C cmd);
}


Specific implementation:

public class MyList {
}

public enum ListCommand {
OPEN,EDIT,DELETE
}

public class MyApp implements ListCommandProcessor<ListCommand> {
...
Listing<MyList,ListCommand> listing =
new Listing<MyList,ListCommand> ();
listing.setProcessor(this);

public void onListCommand(ListCommand cmd)
{
switch (cmd) {
...
}
}
}


An alternative approach might be to remove ListCommandProcessor
altogether and use a more OO approach by implementing functionality
inside the ListCommand (what is an enum now but could be something else).

Library part:

public interface ListCommand<T> {
void execute(T list);
}

public class Listing<T> {
...
public void someMethod() {
final T list = ...
final ListCommand<T> cmd = ...
cmd.execute(list);
}
...
}



Specific implementation:

public class MyList {
}

// this could be anything, not just an enum
public enum MyListCommand implements ListCommandProcessor<MyList> {
OPEN {
@Override
public void onListCommand(MyList cmd) {
// whatever
}
},
EDIT {
@Override
public void onListCommand(MyList cmd) {
// whatever
}
}
...
}

Kind regards

robert
 
R

Robert Klemme

I have found a need to extend enum, but this is not possible in java.
Take a look at the situation:

In an application, there is an enum ListCommand that enumerates the
commands a user may execute on list entries:

public enum ListCommand
{
OPEN,
EDIT,
DELETE;
}

There is an interface that uses this enum:

public interface ListCommandProcessor
{
void onListCommand (ListCommand cmd);
}

And there is a generic Listing class that is used to show customized
lists in the GUI and which uses the above interface:

public class Listing<T>
{
...
ListCommandProcessor processor;
...
}

So far, so good.

Now I am making a cut: The generic class Listing<T> should be moved into
a generic java library, so that it can be used by different
applications. So I also need to move the interface ListCommandProcesor
into this library, and this would implicate that I also move the enum
ListCommand into the library. But the enum ListCommand ist application
specific. If I move it to the library, it must be extendable somehow. If
there were no limitations in the java language, I would separate the
concerns of library and application like this:
How would you do this?

To me this is pretty clear: ListCommandProcessor is an interface and
needs an application specific implementation anyway to interpret the
argument to onListCommand(). As you do not seem to define specific
methods in ListCommand any implementation of onListCommand() is
basically totally free to do what it needs to do with the argument and
you do not have to constrain the argument type in any way. So you make
it generic. So we have

Library part:


public class Listing<T,C> {
...
private ListCommandProcessor<C> processor;
...
}

public interface ListCommandProcessor<C> {
void onListCommand(C cmd);
}


Specific implementation:

public class MyList {
}

public enum ListCommand {
OPEN,EDIT,DELETE
}

public class MyApp implements ListCommandProcessor<ListCommand> {
...
Listing<MyList,ListCommand> listing =
new Listing<MyList,ListCommand> ();
listing.setProcessor(this);

public void onListCommand(ListCommand cmd)
{
switch (cmd) {
...
}
}
}


An alternative approach might be to remove ListCommandProcessor
altogether and use a more OO approach by implementing functionality
inside the ListCommand (what is an enum now but could be something else).

Library part:

public interface ListCommand<T> {
void execute(T list);
}

public class Listing<T> {
...
public void someMethod() {
final T list = ...
final ListCommand<T> cmd = ...
cmd.execute(list);
}
...
}



Specific implementation:

public class MyList {
}

// this could be anything, not just an enum
public enum MyListCommand implements ListCommandProcessor<MyList> {
OPEN {
@Override
public void onListCommand(MyList cmd) {
// whatever
}
},
EDIT {
@Override
public void onListCommand(MyList cmd) {
// whatever
}
}
...
}

Kind regards

robert
 
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