Enum Tutorial With Example

Java Enum was introduced in JDK 1.5 and it is one of my favorite features on J2SE 5. Java Enum as type is more suitable on certain cases for example representing state of Order as NEW, PARTIAL FILL, FILL or CLOSED. Enum was not originally available in Java though it was available in other language like C and C++ but eventually Java realized and introduced Enum on JDK 5 (Tiger). In this Java enum tutorial we will see different examples of java enum and how to use Enum in Java. Focus of this java enum tutorial will be on different features provided by Enum in Java and how to use them.

1) Enum is type-safe you can not assign anything else other than predefined enum constant to an enum variable.

2) Enum has its own name-space.

3) Best feature of Enum is you can use Enum in Java inside Switch statement like int or char primitive data type.we will also see example of using java enum in switch statement in this java enum tutorial.

4) Adding new constants on Enum in Java is easy and you can add new constants without breaking existing code.


Important points about Enum in Java

1) Enums in Java are type-safe and has there own name-space. It means your enum will have a type for example "Currency" in below example and you can not assign any value other than specied in Enum Constants.
 
public enum Currency {PENNY, NICKLE, DIME, QUARTER};
Currency coin = Currency.PENNY;
coin = 1; //compilation error  


2) Enums in Java are reference type like class or interface and you can define constructor, methods and variables inside java enum whichmakes it more powerful than Enum in C and C++ as shwon in next example of java enum type.


3) You can specify values of enum constants at the creation time as shown in below example:
public enum Currency {PENNY(1), NICKLE(5), DIME(10), QUARTER(25)};
But for this to work you need to define a member varialbe and a constructor because PENNY (1) is actually calling a constructor which accepts int value , see below example.
  
public enum Currency {
        PENNY(1), NICKLE(5), DIME(10), QUARTER(25);
        private int value;

        private Currency(int value) {
                this.value = value;
        }
};  
Constructor of enum in java must be private any other access modifier will result in compilation error. Now to get the value associated with each coin you can define a public getValue () method inside java enum like any normal java class. Also semi colon in the first line is optional.


4) Enum constants are implicitly static and final and can not be changed once created. For example below code of java enum will result in compilation error:

Currency.PENNY = Currency.DIME;
The final field EnumExamples.Currency.PENNY cannot be re assigned.

 
 
5) Enum in java can be used as an argument on switch statment and with "case:" like int or char primitive type. This feature of java enum makes them very useful for switch operations. Let’s see an example of how to use java enum inside switch statement: 
   Currency usCoin = Currency.DIME;
    switch (usCoin) {
            case PENNY:
                    System.out.println("Penny coin");
                    break;
            case NICKLE:
                    System.out.println("Nickle coin");
                    break;
            case DIME:
                    System.out.println("Dime coin");
                    break;
            case QUARTER:
                    System.out.println("Quarter coin");
    }
  


6) Since constants defined inside enum in java are final you can safely compare them using "==" equality operator as shwon in following example of   java enum:
Currency usCoin = Currency.DIME;
    if(usCoin == Currency.DIME){
       System.out.println("enum in java can be"+
               "compared using ==");
    }


7) Java compiler automatically generates static values () method for every enum in java. Values() method returns array of enum constants in the same order they have listed in enum and you can use values() to iterator over values of enums in java as shown in below example:

for(Currency coin: Currency.values()){
        System.out.println("coin: " + coin);
    }
And it will print:
coin: PENNY
coin: NICKLE
coin: DIME
coin: QUARTER
               
Notice the order its exactly same with defined order in enum.


 
8) In Java Enum can override methods also. Let’s see an example of overriding toString () method inside enum in java to provide meaningful description for enum constants.
public enum Currency {
  ........
      
  @Override
  public String toString() {
       switch (this) {
         case PENNY:
              System.out.println("Penny: " + value);
              break;
         case NICKLE:
              System.out.println("Nickle: " + value);
              break;
         case DIME:
              System.out.println("Dime: " + value);
              break;
         case QUARTER:
              System.out.println("Quarter: " + value);
        }
  return super.toString();
 }
};        
And here is how it looks like when displayed:
Currency usCoin = Currency.DIME;
System.out.println(usCoin);

output:
Dime: 10


     
9) Two new collection classes EnumMap and EnumSet are added into collection package to support java enums. These classes are high performance implementation of Map and Set interface in Java and we should use this whenever there is any opportunity.



10) You can not create instance of enums by using new operator in java because constructor of Enum in Java can only be private and Enum constants can only be created inside Enum itself.


11) Instance of enums in java is created when any enum constants are first called or refrenced in code.


12) Enum in Java can implement the interface and override any method like normal class It’s also worth noting that enum in java implicitly implement both Serializable and Comparable interface. Let's see and example of how to implement interface using java enum:
public enum Currency implements Runnable{
  PENNY(1), NICKLE(5), DIME(10), QUARTER(25);
  private int value;
  ............
        
  @Override
  public void run() {
  System.out.println("Enum in Java implement interfaces");
                
   }
}



13) You can define abstract methods inside enum in Java and can also provide different implementation for different instances of enum in java.  Let’s see an example of using abstract method inside enum in java

public enum Currency implements Runnable{
          PENNY(1) {
                  @Override
                  public String color() {
                          return "copper";
                  }
          }, NICKLE(5) {
                  @Override
                  public String color() {
                          return "bronze";
                  }
          }, DIME(10) {
                  @Override
                  public String color() {
                          return "silver";
                  }
          }, QUARTER(25) {
                  @Override
                  public String color() {
                          return "silver";
                  }
          };
          private int value;

          public abstract String color();
        
          private Currency(int value) {
                  this.value = value;
          }
          ..............
  }      
In this example since every coin will have different color we made the color () method abstract and let each instance of enum to define   there own color. You can get color of any coin by just calling color () method as shown in below example of java enum:

System.out.println("Color: " + Currency.DIME.color());



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