Java Reference
In-Depth Information
Several observations can be made here. First, the class Post has a constructor, even though
we do not intend to create an instance of class Post directly. 2 This constructor receives the
parameters needed to initialize the Post fields, and it contains the code to do this initialization.
Second, the MessagePost constructor receives parameters needed to initialize both Post and
MessagePost fields. It then contains the following line of code:
The keyword super is a call from the subclass constructor to the constructor of the superclass.
Its effect is that the Post constructor is executed as part of the MessagePost constructor's
execution. When we create a message post, the MessagePost constructor is called, which, in
turn, as its first statement, calls the Post constructor. The Post constructor initializes the post's
fields, and then returns to the MessagePost constructor, which initializes the remaining field
defined in the MessagePost class. For this to work, those parameters needed for the initializa-
tion of the post fields are passed on to the superclass constructor as parameters to the super call.
In Java, a subclass constructor must always call the superclass constructor as its first statement.
If you do not write a call to a superclass constructor, the Java compiler will insert a superclass
call automatically, to ensure that the superclass fields get properly initialized. The inserted call
is equivalent to writing
constructor The
constructor of a
subclass must
always invoke the
constructor of its
superclass as its
first statement. If
the source code
does not include
such a call, Java
will attempt to insert
a call automatically.
Inserting this call automatically works only if the superclass has a constructor without param-
eters (because the compiler cannot guess what parameter values should be passed). Otherwise,
an error will be reported.
In general, it is a good idea to always include explicit superclass calls in your constructors, even
if it is one that the compiler could generate automatically. We consider this good style, because
it avoids the possibility of misinterpretation and confusion in case a reader is not aware of the
automatic code generation.
Exercise 8.7 Set a breakpoint in the first line of the MessagePost class's constructor. Then
create a MessagePost object. When the debugger window pops up, use Step Into to step
through the code. Observe the instance fields and their initialization. Describe your observations.
Network : adding other post types
Now that we have our inheritance hierarchy set up for the network project so that the common
elements of the items are in the Post class, it becomes a lot easier to add other types of posts.
For instance, we might want to add event posts, which consist of a description of a standard event
(e.g., “Fred has joined the 'Neal Stephenson fans' group.”). Standard events might be a user join-
ing a group, a user becoming friends with another, or a user changing their profile picture. To
Currently, there is nothing actually preventing us from creating a Post object, although that was not
our intention when we designed these classes. In Chapter 10, we shall see some techniques that allow
us to make sure that Post objects cannot be created directly, but only MessagePost or PhotoPost
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