Trail: Essential Classes
Lesson: Exceptions
Section: How to Throw Exceptions
Creating Exception Classes
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Creating Exception Classes

When faced with choosing the type of exception to throw, you can either use one written by someone else — the Java platform provides a lot of exception classes you can use — or you can write one of your own. You should write your own exception classes if you answer yes to any of the following questions; otherwise, you can probably use someone else's.

An Example

Suppose you are writing a linked list class. The class supports the following methods, among others:

The linked list class can throw multiple exceptions, and it would be convenient to be able to catch all exceptions thrown by the linked list with one exception handler. Also, if you plan to distribute your linked list in a package, all related code should be packaged together. Thus, the linked list should provide its own set of exception classes.

The next figure illustrates one possible class hierarchy for the exceptions thrown by the linked list.

A possible class hierarchy for the exceptions thrown by a linked list.

Example exception class hierarchy.

Choosing a Superclass

Any Exception subclass can be used as the parent class of LinkedListException. However, a quick perusal of those subclasses shows that they are inappropriate because they are either too specialized or completely unrelated to LinkedListException. Therefore, the parent class of LinkedListException should be Exception.

Most applets and applications you write will throw objects that are Exceptions. Errors are normally used for serious, hard errors in the system, such as those that prevent the JVM from running.

Note: For readable code, it's good practice to append the string Exception to the names of all classes that inherit (directly or indirectly) from the Exception class.

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