1. Lesson: Language Basics
  2. Variables
    1. Naming
    2. Primitive Data Types
    3. Default Values
    4. Literals
    5. Using Underscore Characters in Numeric Literals
    6. Arrays
    7. Declaring a Variable to Refer to an Array
    8. Creating, Initializing, and Accessing an Array
    9. Copying Arrays
    10. Summary of Variables
    11. Questions and Exercises: Variables
  3. Expressions, Statements, and Blocks
    1. Expressions
    2. Statements
    3. Blocks
    4. Questions and Exercises: Expressions, Statements, and Blocks
  4. Control Flow Statements
    1. The if-then Statement
    2. The if-then-else Statement
    3. The switch Statement
    4. Using Strings in switch Statements
    5. The while and do-while Statements
    6. The for Statement
    7. The break Statement
    8. The continue Statement
    9. The return Statement
    10. Summary of Control Flow Statements
    11. Questions and Exercises: Control Flow Statements
  5. Lesson: Classes and Objects
    1. Classes
    2. Declaring Classes
    3. Declaring Member Variables
    4. Access Modifiers
    5. Types
    6. Variable Names
    7. Defining Methods
    8. Naming a Method
    9. Overloading Methods
    10. Providing Constructors for Your Classes
    11. Passing Information to a Method or a Constructor
    12. Parameter Types
    13. Arbitrary Number of Arguments
    14. Parameter Names
    15. Passing Primitive Data Type Arguments
    16. Passing Reference Data Type Arguments
    17. Objects
    18. Creating Objects
    19. Declaring a Variable to Refer to an Object
    20. Instantiating a Class
    21. Initializing an Object
    22. Using Objects
    23. Referencing an Object's Fields
    24. Calling an Object's Methods
    25. The Garbage Collector
    26. More on Classes
    27. Returning a Value from a Method
    28. Returning a Class or Interface
    29. Using the this Keyword
    30. Using this with a Field
    31. Using this with a Constructor
    32. Controlling Access to Members of a Class
    33. Understanding Instance and Class Members
    34. Class Variables
    35. Class Methods
    36. Constants
    37. The Bicycle Class
    38. Initializing Fields
    39. Static Initialization Blocks
    40. Initializing Instance Members
    41. Summary of Creating and Using Classes and Objects
    42. Questions and Exercises: Classes
    43. Questions and Exercises: Objects
  6. Nested Classes
    1. Why Use Nested Classes?
    2. Static Nested Classes
    3. Inner Classes
    4. Inner Class Example
    5. Local and Anonymous Inner Classes
    6. Modifiers
    7. Summary of Nested Classes
    8. Questions and Exercises: Nested Classes
  7. Enum Types
    1. Questions and Exercises: Enum Types
  8. Annotations
    1. Documentation
    2. Annotations Used by the Compiler
    3. Annotation Processing
    4. Questions and Exercises: Annotations
  9. Lesson: Interfaces and Inheritance
    1. Interfaces
    2. Interfaces in Java
    3. Interfaces as APIs
    4. Interfaces and Multiple Inheritance
    5. Defining an Interface
    6. The Interface Body
    7. Implementing an Interface
    8. A Sample Interface, Relatable
    9. Implementing the Relatable Interface

2.Variables #

As you learned in the previous lesson, an object stores its state in fields.

int cadence = 0;
int speed = 0;
int gear = 1;

The What Is an Object? discussion introduced you to fields, but you probably have still a few questions, such as: What are the rules and conventions for naming a field? Besides int, what other data types are there? Do fields have to be initialized when they are declared? Are fields assigned a default value if they are not explicitly initialized? We’ll explore the answers to such questions in this lesson, but before we do, there are a few technical distinctions you must first become aware of. In the Java programming language, the terms “field” and “variable” are both used; this is a common source of confusion among new developers, since both often seem to refer to the same thing.

The Java programming language defines the following kinds of variables:

  • Instance Variables (Non-Static Fields) Technically speaking, objects store their individual states in “non-static fields”, that is, fields declared without the static keyword. Non-static fields are also known as instance variables because their values are unique to each instance of a class (to each object, in other words); the currentSpeed of one bicycle is independent from the currentSpeed of another.
  • Class Variables (Static Fields) A class variable is any field declared with the static modifier; this tells the compiler that there is exactly one copy of this variable in existence, regardless of how many times the class has been instantiated. A field defining the number of gears for a particular kind of bicycle could be marked as static since conceptually the same number of gears will apply to all instances. The code static int numGears = 6; would create such a static field. Additionally, the keyword final could be added to indicate that the number of gears will never change.
  • Local Variables Similar to how an object stores its state in fields, a method will often store its temporary state in local variables. The syntax for declaring a local variable is similar to declaring a field (for example, int count = 0;). There is no special keyword designating a variable as local; that determination comes entirely from the location in which the variable is declared — which is between the opening and closing braces of a method. As such, local variables are only visible to the methods in which they are declared; they are not accessible from the rest of the class.
  • Parameters You’ve already seen examples of parameters, both in the Bicycle class and in the main method of the “Hello World!” application. Recall that the signature for the main method is public static void main(String[] args). Here, the args variable is the parameter to this method. The important thing to remember is that parameters are always classified as “variables” not “fields”. This applies to other parameter-accepting constructs as well (such as constructors and exception handlers) that you’ll learn about later in the tutorial.

Having said that, the remainder of this tutorial uses the following general guidelines when discussing fields and variables. If we are talking about “fields in general” (excluding local variables and parameters), we may simply say “fields”. If the discussion applies to “all of the above”, we may simply say “variables”. If the context calls for a distinction, we will use specific terms (static field, local variables, etc.) as appropriate. You may also occasionally see the term “member” used as well. A type’s fields, methods, and nested types are collectively called its members.

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