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Java Class Generator Component

The Java Class Generator component, of Arch4J, provides a set of classes that can be used programmatically within your code to dynamically generate Java Class files. This package contains classes that model the different parts of a Java Class file, such as a constructor, a member variable or a needed import. It also contains classes that model the needed Java syntax to define those class parts, such as the various Java types, the definition of a Java identifier, and constants for Java keywords.

By putting these pieces together, one can create a number of classes that serve as templates to generate Java code. The template could define everything except, for example, the actual class name or package name for the generated code. It is always a difficult task to understand these meta-concepts, but we'll start from the basics and work our way up to an example.

Get Started

If you are installing as part of the full Arch4J distribution, you need to put the arch4j.jar file into your classpath. If you are only interested in the Java Class Generator component, you need the base.jar and arch4j-generator.jar in your classpath.


If you are anxious to get going and feel comfortable exploring on your own, begin by looking at the JavaSourceFile class. This is where you add the different parts of a Java source file to create a class. Create a template class that creates an instance of a JavaSourceFile to begin. Use the methods beginning with the prefix add to add fields, methods, etc. Use the methods beginning with the prefix set to set the name of the class or the name of the package the class will belong to. Invoke the method named generate() to write out your class.

If you are not quite up to jumping in without a net, let's explore each feature before looking at the JavaSourceFile. First, there are two interfaces that define String constants. JavaPrimitiveConstants defines constants for each Java primitive data type, e.g. int or double. JavaKeywordConstants extends JavaPrimitiveConstants and adds constants for each of the Java reserved words. Having these constants available serve two purposes. They are there for you to use so that you don't misspell a keyword. They are also there for the generator to use.

Although the various primitive Java types are available as constant strings, you probably won't need them. All the types you use or define will be instances of a JavaType. There are pre-built static instances for each of the primitive types (e.g. JavaType.INT_TYPE). There are also static instances for the commonly-used String type (JavaType.STRING_TYPE) and for the common return type void (JavaType.VOID_TYPE). All other Java types (classes) are also instances of JavaType. They can include existing class types or new type names you are creating and need to reference elsewhere. You can use one of the constructors or the static typeFor() method to create them. It just so happens that you can use typeFor() to return a primitive type, too.

Let's build on this. The next class we'll look at is JavaIdentifier. This class represents a Java identifier. Sometimes we call this a variable, but it's more than that. An identifier has a name, a type (really a JavaType) and, if it is an array, the dimension of the array. An identifier can be used to define a field, the name and return type for a method, and the name and type for a formal parameter in a method definition. More on definitions in a bit. When you type

int count
you are specifying a Java identifier, whatever the context. The JavaIdentifier just formalizes it and puts that information into an object that can be used elsewhere by the generator. For arrays, we are defining the dimension of the array, not the number of elements it holds. The dimension tells how many pairs of square brackets ([]) to use.

Another Java concept that pops up everywhere is Java access control. This includes the keywords public, protected, and private along with the so-called package access or default access. It should be obvious by now that we have a class to manage this, too, and it is named JavaAccessModifier. Once again, pre-build static instances (such as JavaAccessModifier.PUBLIC_ACCESS) are available along with a static lookup method (modifierFor()) to get one.

So much for the nice, short overview. A few more features to go.

The Java Class Generator has a number of classes that are derived from a class named JavaDefinition. These subclasses are used to define the various parts of a Java source file. This includes the Java source class or interface name, a field within the class (i.e. a static or instance member variable), and a constructor or a method within the class. All of the definition classes have a large number of constructors to make it easy to define a Java source element with as few lines of code as possible.

The most important part of a Java source file is the code it contains! The stuff between the curly braces! Your template classes will no doubt have a lot of literal code included with the sections and names that you parameterize out. Wherever you need to define a block of code, such as for a method definition, use a CodeBuffer. It contains a myriad of methods to append literal code to a buffer which can then be extracted as a formatted String. You can include comments in your code, too! You control the indentation level with each line of code you add. Blocks of code adopt the next indentation level. You can control whether that opening curly brace appears at the end of the line or on a line by itself.

How To

Some simple examples exist as test methods in the class named GeneratorTest.

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