Java Reference
In-Depth Information
This construction means that toString() is always available for any object, and this
turns out to come in very handy for another major syntax feature that Java provides
—string concatenation.
String concatenation
Java has a language feature where we can create new strings by “adding” the charac‐
ters from one string onto the end of another. This is called string concatenation and
uses the operator + . It works by first creating a “working area” in the form of a
StringBuilder object that contains the same sequence of characters as the original
The builder object is then updated and the characters from the additional string are
added onto the end. Finally, toString() is called on the StringBuilder object
(which now contains the characters from both strings). This gives us a new string
with all the characters in it. All of this code is created automatically by javac when‐
ever we use the + operator to concatenate strings.
The concatenation process returns a completely new String object, as we can see in
this example:
String s1 = "AB" ;
String s2 = "CD" ;
String s3 = s1 ;
System . out . println ( s1 == s3 ); // Same object?
s3 = s1 + s2 ;
System . out . println ( s1 == s3 ); // Still same?
System . out . println ( s1 );
System . out . println ( s3 );
The concatentation example directly shows that the + operator is not altering (or
mutating ) s1 in place. This is an example of a more general principle: Java's strings
are immutable. This means that once the characters that make up the string have
been chosen and the String object has been created, the String cannot be changed.
This is an important language principle in Java, so let's look at it in a little more
String Immutability
In order to “change” a string, as we saw when we discussed string concatenation, we
actually need to create an intermediate StringBuilder object to act as a temporary
scratch area, and then call toString() on it, to bake it into a new instance of
String . Let's see how this works in code:
String pet = "Cat" ;
StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder ( pet );
sb . append ( "amaran" );
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