Wednesday, September 20, 2006

equals() needed in most beans, entity/domain objects

Q: Suppose you are writing your own class C.java, and in other classes you plan to use List or Set. What method(s) do you need to write in C.java? What if you don't write the method(s)?I know toString() is not something C.java must have.

A: equals(). Object.equals() uses reference comparison. Without overriding equals(), if you call Collection.contains() or Collection.remove(), you can't pass in an identical carbon copy. A caron copy won't pass contains() or remove().

Now most "noun" objects need to be usable in a collection and need meaninful contain() or remove() operations.

Note, once you override equals(), you need to override hashCode(). http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/docs/api/java/lang/Object.html#equals(java.lang.Object). A Set and a Map are even more dependent on equals().

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