Wrapper Classes in Java

Each of the primitives (remember, String is an object rather than a primitive) has a corresponding class that provides several useful abilities that are otherwise unavailable to a primitive. You can think of the wrapper classes as each being a package of useful abilities wrapped around a primitive of the corresponding type.

ITCuties - Java Wrapper Class

ITCuties – Java Wrapper Class

Purpose of Wrapper Classes

The wrapper classes in the Java API serve two primary purposes:

  1. To provide a mechanism to “wrap” primitive values in an object so that the primitives can be included in activities reserved for objects, like being added to Collections, or returned from a method with an object return value.
  2. To provide a variety of utility functions for primitives. Most of these functions are related to various conversions: converting primitives to and from String objects, and converting primitives and String objects to and from different bases (or radix), such as binary, octal, and hexadecimal.

Objects of these wrapper classes are immutable. That is, their values cannot be changed.

An Overview of the Wrapper Classes

There is a wrapper class for every primitive in Java. For instance, the wrapper class for int is Integer, the class for float is Float, and so on. Remember that the primitive name is simply the lowercase name of the wrapper except for char, which maps to Character, and int, which maps to Integer.

Primitive Wrapper classes Constructor arguments
boolean Boolean boolean or String
byte Byte byte or String
char Character char
double Double double or String
float Float float, double or String
int Integer int or String
long Long long or String
short Short short or String

Autoboxing is the automatic conversion of primitive data types into their corresponding wrapper classes. This is performed as needed so as to eliminate the need to perform trivial, explicit conversion between primitive data types and their corresponding wrapper classes.
Unboxing refers to the automatic conversion of a wrapper object to its equivalent primitive data type. In effect, primitive data types are treated as if they are objects in most situations

Before Java 5, if you wanted to make a wrapper, unwrap it, use it, and then rewrap it, you might do something like this:

Integer y = new Integer(10); // make it
int x = y.intValue(); // unwrap it
x++; // use it
y = new Integer(x); //re-wrap it
System.out.println("y = " + y); // print

Now, you can write:

Integer y = new Integer(10);
System.out.println("y = " + y);

There are a few things to remember when working with primitives and objects. First, objects can be null, whereas primitives cannot be assigned a null value. This can present problems from time to time. For example, unboxing a null object will result in a NullPointerException.

Also, be careful when comparing primitives and objects when boxing does not occur

Comparison Two primitives Two objects One of each
a = = b Simple comparison Compare references values Treated as two primitives
a.equals(b) Will not compile Compare for equality of values Will not compile if a is a primitive, otherwise their values are compared.

How to create Wrapper Objects

The Wrapper Constructors

All of the wrapper classes except Character provide two constructors: one that takes a primitive of the type being constructed, and one that takes a String representation of the type being constructed. For instance

Integer i1 = new Integer(10);
Integer i2 = new Integer("10");
Float f1 = new Float(3.14f);
Float f2 = new Float("3.14f");
Character c1 = new Character('c');
Boolean b = new Boolean("false");

Example: CreateWrapper.java

The valueOf() Methods

The two static valueOf() methods provided in most of the wrapper classes give you another approach to creating wrapper objects.
Both methods take a String representation of the appropriate type of primitive as their first argument, the second method (when provided) takes an additional argument, int radix, which indicates in what base (for example binary, octal, or hexadecimal) the first argument is represented. For instance,

Integer i2 = Integer.valueOf("101011", 2); //convert 101011 to 43
Float f2 = Float.valueOf("3.14f");

Example: ValueOfWrapper.java

Wrapper Conversion Utilities


When you need to convert the value of a wrapped numeric to a primitive, use one of the many xxxValue() methods. All of the methods in this family are no-arg methods. Each of the six numeric wrapper classes has six methods, so that any numeric wrapper can be converted to any primitive numeric type. For instance,

Integer i2 = new Integer(10);
byte b = i2.byteValue();
short s = i2.shortValue();
double d = i2.doubleValue();

parseXxx() and valueOf()

The six parseXxx() methods are closely related to the valueOf() method that exists in all of the numeric wrapper classes can convert String objects from different bases (radix), when the underlying primitive type is any of the four integer types.

  • parseXxx() returns the named primitive.
  • valueOf() returns a newly created wrapped object of the type that invoked the method.
double d4 = Double.parseDouble("3.15");
System.out.println("d4 = " + d4);

Double d5 = Double.valueOf("3.15");
System.out.println(d5 instanceof Double);

Example: WrapperUtilities.java

toXxxString() (Binary, Hexadecimal, Octal)

The Integer and Long wrapper classes let you convert numbers in base 10 to other bases. These conversion methods, toXxxString(), take an int or long, and return a String representation of the converted number, for example,

String s3 = Integer.toHexString(254);
System.out.println("254 is " + s3);

Example: WrapperConversion.java

In summary, the essential method signatures for Wrapper conversion methods are

  • primitive xxxValue() – to convert a Wrapper to a primitive
  • primitive parseXxx(String) – to convert a String to a primitive
  • Wrapper valueOf(String) – to convert a String to a Wrapper

Advantages of Wrapper classes

  • Inclusion of wrapper classes in Collection.
  • null value possibility with Wrapper classes.
  • It can be handy to initialize Object with null or send null parameters to a method or constructor to indicate state or function. This can’t be possible with primitives.
  • We can treat wrapper classes generically / polymorphically as an object along with other objects.

Download this sample code here.

One Response to "Wrapper Classes in Java"

  1. testing says:



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