Primitives and its wrapped types compatibility

Introduction

How often do you think about possible changes in your API? Do you consider that something required could become optional in future? How about compatibility of such change? One of this changes is going from primitive (e. g. int) to its wrapped type (e. g. Integer). Let's check it out.

API - first iteration

Let's start with simple DTO class Dep in our public API.

public class Dep {
    private int f1;

    public int getF1(){
        return f1;
    }

    public void setF1(int f1){
        this.f1 = f1;
    }

    // other fields and methods omitted
}

f1 is obligatory field that never will be null.

Let's use it in Main class:

public class Main {
    public static void main(String... args) {
        Dep dep = new Dep();
        dep.setF1(123);
        System.out.println(dep.getF1());
    }
}

compile it:

$ javac depInt/Dep.java
$ javac -cp depInt main/Main.java

and run:

$ java -cp depInt:main Main
123

It works.

API - obligatory field become optional

Now suppose our business requirements have changed. f1 is not longer obligatory and we want possibility to set it to null.

So we provide next iteration of Dep class where f1 field has type Integer.

public class Dep {
    private Integer f1;

    public Integer getF1(){
        return f1;
    }

    public void setF1(Integer f1){
        this.f1 = f1;
    }

    // other fields and methods omitted
}

We compile only the new Dep class because we do not want to change the Main class:

$ javac depInteger/Dep.java

and run it with old Main:

$ java -cp depInteger:main Main
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: Dep.setF1(I)V
    at Main.main(Main.java:4)

Wow! It does not work...

Why does it not work?

We can use javap tool to investigate Main class.

$ javap -c main/Main.class
Compiled from "Main.java"
public class Main {
  public Main();
    Code:
       0: aload_0
       1: invokespecial #1                  // Method java/lang/Object."<init>":()V
       4: return

  public static void main(java.lang.String...);
    Code:
       0: new           #2                  // class Dep
       3: dup
       4: invokespecial #3                  // Method Dep."<init>":()V
       7: astore_1
       8: aload_1
       9: bipush        123
      11: invokevirtual #4                  // Method Dep.setF1:(I)V
      14: getstatic     #5                  // Field java/lang/System.out:Ljava/io/PrintStream;
      17: aload_1
      18: invokevirtual #6                  // Method Dep.getF1:()I
      21: invokevirtual #7                  // Method java/io/PrintStream.println:(I)V
      24: return
}

The most important are 11th and 18th instructions of main method. Main lookups for methods which use int (I in method signature).

Next let's compile the Main class with Dep which has f1 of type Integer:

$ javac -cp depInteger main/Main.java

and use javap on this class:

$ javap -c main/Main.class
Compiled from "Main.java"
public class Main {
  public Main();
    Code:
       0: aload_0
       1: invokespecial #1                  // Method java/lang/Object."<init>":()V
       4: return

  public static void main(java.lang.String...);
    Code:
       0: new           #2                  // class Dep
       3: dup
       4: invokespecial #3                  // Method Dep."<init>":()V
       7: astore_1
       8: aload_1
       9: bipush        123
      11: invokestatic  #4                  // Method java/lang/Integer.valueOf:(I)Ljava/lang/Integer;
      14: invokevirtual #5                  // Method Dep.setF1:(Ljava/lang/Integer;)V
      17: getstatic     #6                  // Field java/lang/System.out:Ljava/io/PrintStream;
      20: aload_1
      21: invokevirtual #7                  // Method Dep.getF1:()Ljava/lang/Integer;
      24: invokevirtual #8                  // Method java/io/PrintStream.println:(Ljava/lang/Object;)V
      27: return
}

Now we see the difference. The main method:

  • converts int to Integer in instruction 11th,
  • invokes method setF1 which takes parameter of type Integer (Ljava/lang/Integer;) in instruction 14th,
  • invokes method getF1 which returns Integer in instruction 21st.

These differences do not allow us to use the Main class with Dep without recompilation if we change f1.

How about Groovy?

We have GroovyMain class which do the same as Main class written in Java.

class GroovyMain {
    static void main(String... args) {
        Dep dep = new Dep(f1: 123)
        println(dep.f1)
    }
}

We will compile GroovyMain class only with Dep which uses int:

$ groovyc -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInt -d main main/GroovyMain.groovy

It runs great as expected with int:

$ java -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInt:main GroovyMain
123

but with Integer... It works the same!

$ java -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInteger:main GroovyMain
123

Groovy is immune to such change.

With CompileStatic

But what if we compile groovy with CompileStatic annotation? This annotation instructs groovy compiler to compile class with type checking and should produce bytecode similar to javac output.

GroovyMainCompileStatic class is GroovyMain class with only CompileStatic annotation:

import groovy.transform.CompileStatic

@CompileStatic
class GroovyMainCompileStatic {
    static void main(String... args) {
        Dep dep = new Dep(f1: 123)
        println(dep.f1)
    }
}

When we compile this with Dep with int field:

$ groovyc -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInt -d main main/GroovyMainCompileStatic.groovy

then of course it works:

$ java -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInt:main GroovyMainCompileStatic
123

but with Dep with Integer field it fails like in Java:

$ java -cp lib/groovy-all-2.4.5.jar:depInteger:main GroovyMainCompileStatic
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: Dep.setF1(I)V
    at GroovyMainCompileStatic.main(GroovyMainCompileStatic.groovy:6)

Conclusion

Change from primitive to its wrapped java type is not compatible change. Bytecode which uses dependent class assumes that there will be method which consumes or returns e. g. int and cannot deal with the same class which provides such method with Integer in place of int.

Groovy is much more flexible and could handle it, but only if we do not use CompileStatic annotation.

The source code is available here.