Exception handling in Java Programs

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This is my program structure:

main function -> call Class A obj -> Class A calls Class B obj

when it comes to exception handling, I want to exit the program with error code if exception is encountered either in main, class A or class B.

Currently, I am doing what I feel is a cumbersome process (and likely a foolish way):

-> Have exception handling within the functions of Class A and Class B.

-> Have the function exit with a value deemed 'error' (such as specific value or boolean false) if exception occurred in function.

-> main has its own try/catch but also for each function call of class A and class B, if it return is 'error', it throws exception and then exits with error code.

My contention with this approach is (a) I am throwing and handling exception potentially multiple times (at the class level and then at main level). (b) If a function in class is suppose to return a value, than I have to set aside a specific value that when received, should be interpreted as error.

any cleaner suggestions? This is for programs which will be compiled to run as executable JAR from command line and won't be a micro service (or web server based -- for those, I reckon, instead of exiting the program, you would report the error in log and continue on).

The basic idea you should follow is to have a main method like this:

public static void main(String... args) {
    try {
        new A().run();
    } catch (ExitProgramException e) {
        System.exit(e.getCode());
    }
}

There is no predefined ExitProgramException yet. This is good, since otherwise some other class could already throw it. In this case though, you want to define all the places where this exception can be thrown. The exception class should be defined as follows:

public final class ExitProgramException extends RuntimeException {

    private final int code;

    public ExitProgramException(int code) { this.code = code; }

    public int getCode() { return code; }
}

Now, in classes A and B, you can throw new ExitProgramException(1), and everything will work as intended.

Because of the extends RuntimeException, the intermediate code does not have to know about this exception and will happily let it bubble through, from class B over class A back into the main method, where it is finally caught and converted into the exit code.

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Return values should NOT be used for signaling errors to the caller. In JAVA you would just throw an exception.This is a core feature.

What you are actually interested in is how to signal an error state to the command line. So, for class A and class B, use standard exception throwing. However, within the main method you might exit abnormally for some exceptions or maybe even all exceptions. Please check How exactly works the Java application exit code of the main() method? for more details.

Types of Exception in Java with Examples, a program. When an Exception occurs the normal flow of the program is disru. You need to understand them to know how exception handling works in Java. Exception Handling in Java is a powerful mechanism that is used to handle the runtime errors, compile-time errors are not handled by exception handling in Java. If an exception occurs in your code (suppose in line 6), then the rest of the code is not executed.

IMHO either use exceptions or error code as return value and be consistent with that approach.

In kotlin you can use powerful libraries as Arrow-kt which offers you some sofisticated types to handle errors like Try or Either to handle respectively exceptions and error codes or states.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Arrow team

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The thing about Exceptions in Java is that they do a lot of different things, semantically

  1. Errors in code: Exceptions like NullPointerException or SQLExceptions where your SQL isn't right. These (IMO) shouldn't be caught, or should be rethrown as Errors and caught in the uncaughtExceptionHandler (which you can define in Thread)

  2. User errors: Exceptions like NumberFormatException and exceptions on bad form data, where the user has entered invalid values. This (IMO) should be handled in place with a message near where they should correct the value

  3. Normal, expected exceptions: Exceptions like IOException / SocketException. InterruptedException is in this family too. These Exceptions are your friends(!), as they unlock the threads that are waiting on something that they should be waiting on anymore. They are part of the normal cycle of connecting to IO resources. So if a socket closes, you could log the exception somewhere (sometimes even that isn't necessary), and possibly ask the user if they want to reopen the connection.

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Exceptions in Java, Part 1: Exception handling basics, Default Exception Handling : Whenever inside a method, if an exception has occurred, the method creates an Object known as Exception Object and hands it off to the run-time system (JVM). The exception object contains name and description of the exception, and current state of the program where exception has occurred.

Comments
  • Unless this is actual production code, what you probably should be doing is just throwing the exception without trying to catch it at all. The exception and the stack trace are excellent tools for debugging your program.
  • It really, really depends on the circumstances. If you only have two classes being called, this might be overkill. If they are part of different architectural layers, it might be called for to guard each against exceptions.
  • Thx Roland, I will try out your approach.