Trail: Getting Started

Lesson: Common Problems (and Their Solutions)

Compiler Problems

Common Error Messages on Microsoft Windows Systems

'javac' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

If you receive this error, Windows cannot find the compiler (javac).

Here's one way to tell Windows where to find javac. Suppose you installed the JDK in C:\jdk1.8.0. At the prompt you would type the following command and press Enter:

C:\jdk1.8.0\bin\javac HelloWorldApp.java

If you choose this option, you'll have to precede your javac and java commands with C:\jdk1.8.0\bin\ each time you compile or run a program. To avoid this extra typing, consult the section Updating the PATH variable in the JDK 8 installation instructions.

Class names, 'HelloWorldApp', are only accepted if annotation processing is explicitly requested

If you receive this error, you forgot to include the .java suffix when compiling the program. Remember, the command is javac HelloWorldApp.java not javac HelloWorldApp.

Common Error Messages on UNIX Systems

javac: Command not found

If you receive this error, UNIX cannot find the compiler, javac.

Here's one way to tell UNIX where to find javac. Suppose you installed the JDK in /usr/local/jdk1.8.0. At the prompt you would type the following command and press Return:

/usr/local/jdk1.8.0/javac HelloWorldApp.java

Note: If you choose this option, each time you compile or run a program, you'll have to precede your javac and java commands with /usr/local/jdk1.8.0/. To avoid this extra typing, you could add this information to your PATH variable. The steps for doing so will vary depending on which shell you are currently running.

Class names, 'HelloWorldApp', are only accepted if annotation processing is explicitly requested

If you receive this error, you forgot to include the .java suffix when compiling the program. Remember, the command is javac HelloWorldApp.java not javac HelloWorldApp.

Syntax Errors (All Platforms)

If you mistype part of a program, the compiler may issue a syntax error. The message usually displays the type of the error, the line number where the error was detected, the code on that line, and the position of the error within the code. Here's an error caused by omitting a semicolon (;) at the end of a statement:

testing.java:14: `;' expected.
System.out.println("Input has " + count + " chars.")
                                                     ^
1 error

Sometimes the compiler can't guess your intent and prints a confusing error message or multiple error messages if the error cascades over several lines. For example, the following code snippet omits a semicolon (;) from the bold line:

while (System.in.read() != -1)
    count++
System.out.println("Input has " + count + " chars."); 

When processing this code, the compiler issues two error messages:

testing.java:13: Invalid type expression.
        count++
                 ^
testing.java:14: Invalid declaration.
    System.out.println("Input has " + count + " chars.");
                      ^
2 errors

The compiler issues two error messages because after it processes count++, the compiler's state indicates that it's in the middle of an expression. Without the semicolon, the compiler has no way of knowing that the statement is complete.

If you see any compiler errors, then your program did not successfully compile, and the compiler did not create a .class file. Carefully verify the program, fix any errors that you detect, and try again.

Semantic Errors

In addition to verifying that your program is syntactically correct, the compiler checks for other basic correctness. For example, the compiler warns you each time you use a variable that has not been initialized:

testing.java:13: Variable count may not have been initialized.
        count++
        ^
testing.java:14: Variable count may not have been initialized.
    System.out.println("Input has " + count + " chars.");
                                       ^
2 errors

Again, your program did not successfully compile, and the compiler did not create a .class file. Fix the error and try again.

Runtime Problems

Error Messages on Microsoft Windows Systems

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: HelloWorldApp

If you receive this error, java cannot find your bytecode file, HelloWorldApp.class.

One of the places java tries to find your .class file is your current directory. So if your .class file is in C:\java, you should change your current directory to that. To change your directory, type the following command at the prompt and press Enter:

cd c:\java

The prompt should change to C:\java>. If you enter dir at the prompt, you should see your .java and .class files. Now enter java HelloWorldApp again.

If you still have problems, you might have to change your CLASSPATH variable. To see if this is necessary, try clobbering the classpath with the following command.

set CLASSPATH=

Now enter java HelloWorldApp again. If the program works now, you'll have to change your CLASSPATH variable. To set this variable, consult the Updating the PATH variable section in the JDK 8 installation instructions. The CLASSPATH variable is set in the same manner.

Could not find or load main class HelloWorldApp.class

A common mistake made by beginner programmers is to try and run the java launcher on the .class file that was created by the compiler. For example, you'll get this error if you try to run your program with java HelloWorldApp.class instead of java HelloWorldApp. Remember, the argument is the name of the class that you want to use, not the filename.

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: main

The Java VM requires that the class you execute with it have a main method at which to begin execution of your application. A Closer Look at the "Hello World!" Application discusses the main method in detail.

Error Messages on UNIX Systems

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: HelloWorldApp

If you receive this error, java cannot find your bytecode file, HelloWorldApp.class.

One of the places java tries to find your bytecode file is your current directory. So, for example, if your bytecode file is in /home/jdoe/java, you should change your current directory to that. To change your directory, type the following command at the prompt and press Return:

cd /home/jdoe/java

If you enter pwd at the prompt, you should see /home/jdoe/java. If you enter ls at the prompt, you should see your .java and .class files. Now enter java HelloWorldApp again.

If you still have problems, you might have to change your CLASSPATH environment variable. To see if this is necessary, try clobbering the classpath with the following command.

unset CLASSPATH

Now enter java HelloWorldApp again. If the program works now, you'll have to change your CLASSPATH variable in the same manner as the PATH variable above.

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: HelloWorldApp/class

A common mistake made by beginner programmers is to try and run the java launcher on the .class file that was created by the compiler. For example, you'll get this error if you try to run your program with java HelloWorldApp.class instead of java HelloWorldApp. Remember, the argument is the name of the class that you want to use, not the filename.

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: main

The Java VM requires that the class you execute with it have a main method at which to begin execution of your application. A Closer Look at the "Hello World!" Application discusses the main method in detail.

Applet or Java Web Start Application Is Blocked

If you are running an application through a browser and get security warnings that say the application is blocked, check the following items:


Problems with the examples? Try Compiling and Running the Examples: FAQs.
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