skiphoppy skiphoppy - 6 months ago 68
Java Question

How do I address unchecked cast warnings?

Eclipse is giving me a warning of the following form:

Type safety: Unchecked cast from Object to HashMap<String, String>


This is from a call to an API that I have no control over which returns Object:

HashMap<String, String> getItems(javax.servlet.http.HttpSession session) {
HashMap<String, String> theHash = (HashMap<String, String>)session.getAttribute("attributeKey");
return theHash;
}


I'd like to avoid Eclipse warnings, if possible, since theoretically they indicate at least a potential code problem. I haven't found a good way to eliminate this one yet, though. I can extract the single line involved out to a method by itself and add @SuppressWarnings("unchecked") to that method, thus limiting the impact of having a block of code where I ignore warnings. Any better options? I don't want to turn these warnings off in Eclipse.

Before I came to the code, it was simpler, but still provoked warnings:

HashMap getItems(javax.servlet.http.HttpSession session) {
HashMap theHash = (HashMap)session.getAttribute("attributeKey");
return theHash;
}


Problem was elsewhere when you tried to use the hash you'd get warnings:

HashMap items = getItems(session);
items.put("this", "that");

Type safety: The method put(Object, Object) belongs to the raw type HashMap. References to generic type HashMap<K,V> should be parameterized.

Answer

Wow; I think I figured out the answer to my own question. I'm just not sure it's worth it! :)

The problem is the cast isn't checked. So, you have to check it yourself. You can't just check a parameterized type with instanceof, because the parameterized type information is unavailable at runtime, having been erased at compile time.

But, you can perform a check on each and every item in the hash, with instanceof, and in doing so, you can construct a new hash that is type-safe. And you won't provoke any warnings.

Thanks to mmyers and Esko Luontola, I've parameterized the code I originally wrote here, so it can be wrapped up in a utility class somewhere and used for any parameterized HashMap. If you want to understand it better and aren't very familiar with generics, I encourage viewing the edit history of this answer.

public static <K, V> HashMap<K, V> castHash(HashMap input,
                                            Class<K> keyClass,
                                            Class<V> valueClass) {
  HashMap<K, V> output = new HashMap<K, V>();
  if (input == null)
      return output;
  for (Object key: input.keySet().toArray()) {
    if ((key == null) || (keyClass.isAssignableFrom(key.getClass()))) {
        Object value = input.get(key);
        if ((value == null) || (valueClass.isAssignableFrom(value.getClass()))) {
            K k = keyClass.cast(key);
            V v = valueClass.cast(value);
            output.put(k, v);
        } else {
            throw new AssertionError(
                "Cannot cast to HashMap<"+ keyClass.getSimpleName()
                +", "+ valueClass.getSimpleName() +">"
                +", value "+ value +" is not a "+ valueClass.getSimpleName()
            );
        }
    } else {
        throw new AssertionError(
            "Cannot cast to HashMap<"+ keyClass.getSimpleName()
            +", "+ valueClass.getSimpleName() +">"
            +", key "+ key +" is not a " + keyClass.getSimpleName()
        );
    }
  }
  return output;
}

That's a lot of work, possibly for very little reward... I'm not sure if I'll use it or not. I'd appreciate any comments as to whether people think it's worth it or not. Also, I'd appreciate improvement suggestions: is there something better I can do besides throw AssertionErrors? Is there something better I could throw? Should I make it a checked Exception?

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