Stephen Stephen - 16 days ago 5
Java Question

Non-public top-level class vs static nested class

It seems to me that non-public top-level classes and static nested classes essentially perform the same tasks when creating a helper class.




A.java






public class A
{
public static main (String[] args)
{
AHelper helper = new AHelper();
}
}
class AHelper {}





A.java






public class A
{
public static main (String[] args)
{
A.AHelper helper = new A.AHelper();
}

static class AHelper {}
}





Aside from how they are referenced, there seems to me very little difference between the two ways of creating a helper class. It probably comes down mostly to preference; does anyone see anything I'm missing? I suppose some people would argue that it's better to have one class per source file, but from my perspective it seems cleaner and more organized to have a non-public top-level class in the same source file.

Answer

In neither example do you have one class per source file. But generally, you use a static nested class to signify that it is only intended to be used within its enclosing class (forcing it to be referenced as A.AHelper). That is not so clear if you move that class to the top level.

From the Sun tutorial:

Logical grouping of classes—If a class is useful to only one other class, then it is logical to embed it in that class and keep the two together. Nesting such "helper classes" makes their package more streamlined.

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