Dave Dave - 7 months ago 192
Java Question

Scanner vs. StringTokenizer vs. String.Split

I just learned about Java's Scanner class and now I'm wondering how it compares/competes with the StringTokenizer and String.Split. I know that the StringTokenizer and String.Split only work on Strings, so why would I want to use the Scanner for a String? Is Scanner just intended to be one-stop-shopping for spliting?

Answer

They're essentially horses for courses.

  • Scanner is designed for cases where you need to parse a string, pulling out data of different types. It's very flexible, but arguably doesn't give you the simplest API for simply getting an array of strings delimited by a particular expression.
  • String.split() and Pattern.split() give you an easy syntax for doing the latter, but that's essentially all that they do. If you want to parse the resulting strings, or change the delimiter halfway through depending on a particular token, they won't help you with that.
  • StringTokenizer is even more restrictive than String.split(), and also a bit fiddlier to use. It is essentially designed for pulling out tokens delimited by fixed substrings. Because of this restriction, it's about twice as fast as String.split(). (See my comparison of String.split() and StringTokenizer.) It also predates the regular expressions API, of which String.split() is a part.

You'll note from my timings that String.split() can still tokenize thousands of strings in a few milliseconds on a typical machine. In addition, it has the advantage over StringTokenizer that it gives you the output as a string array, which is usually what you want. Using an Enumeration, as provided by StringTokenizer, is too "syntactically fussy" most of the time. From this point of view, StringTokenizer is a bit of a waste of space nowadays, and you may as well just use String.split().

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