John Humphreys - w00te John Humphreys - w00te - 7 months ago 150
Java Question

UnmodifiableMap (Java Collections) vs ImmutableMap (Google)


I need to return a reference to a map that I'm using for a data cache, and I'd like to make sure nobody can modify their reference.


I've seen lots of references to UnmodifiableMap and ImmutableMap online, but I don't see anything comparing/contrasting them. I figure there is a good reason that Google/Guava created their own version - can someone tell me what it is?


An unmodifiable map may still change. It is only a view on a modifiable map, and changes in the backing map will be visible through the unmodifiable map. The unmodifiable map only prevents modifications for those who only have the reference to the unmodifiable view:

Map<String, String> realMap = new HashMap<String, String>();
realMap.put("A", "B");

Map<String, String> unmodifiableMap = Collections.unmodifiableMap(realMap);

// This is not possible: It would throw an 
// UnsupportedOperationException
//unmodifiableMap.put("C", "D");

// This is still possible:
realMap.put("E", "F");

// The change in the "realMap" is now also visible
// in the "unmodifiableMap". So the unmodifiableMap
// has changed after it has been created.
unmodifiableMap.get("E"); // Will return "F". 

In contrast to that, the ImmutableMap of Guava is really immutable: It is a true copy of a given map, and nobody may modify this ImmutableMap in any way.