Steve Chambers Steve Chambers - 1 month ago 11
Java Question

How to recursively list all properties exposed by a Java class and its ancestors?

Given a single Java class I'd like to be able to list all properties that are exposed in all ancestors and recursively traverse all their exposed properties (i.e.

or with getters/setters) in the same way.

Easier to explain with a simple example:

public class BaseClass1 {
private int intProperty; // has getter and setter (not shown)
public class SubClass1 extends BaseClass1 {
private int privateSoNotListed;
public SubClass2 subClass2Property;
public class BaseClass2 {
public String stringProperty;
public class SubClass2 extends BaseClass2 {
private long longProperty; // has getter and setter (not shown)

above as input, the output would be something like this:

intProperty - int [from BaseClass1]
subClass2Property.stringProperty - String [from BaseClass2]
subClass2Property.longProperty - long [from SubClass2]

It should be possible to write something like this using a bit of clever reflection but I'd rather not reinvent the wheel - is there an existing tool that can do this (perhaps an Eclipse plugin?)

EDIT: Eclipse's Type Hierarchy does a nice job of displaying properties for a single class - the ideal solution in my mind would be if this were a tree view (similar to Package Explorer) with the ability to expand properties that are themselves classes.


See also the duplicate Recursive BeanUtils.describe(), which works also recursively. The following is a custom version we are using (logs in a log4j logger):

import java.beans.BeanInfo;
import java.beans.IntrospectionException;
import java.beans.Introspector;
import java.beans.PropertyDescriptor;
import java.lang.reflect.Field;
import java.lang.reflect.Method;
import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.Collection;
import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.HashMap;
import java.util.HashSet;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.Set;
import java.util.TreeMap;

import org.apache.commons.beanutils.BeanUtilsBean;
import org.apache.commons.beanutils.ConvertUtilsBean;
import org.apache.log4j.Logger;

 * See the original version:
public class Inspector  {

    public static void recursivelyDescribeAndLog(Object ob, Logger log){;
        try {
            Map<String, String> props = recursiveDescribe(ob);
            for (Map.Entry<String, String> p : props.entrySet()) {
      " -> " + p.getKey() + "="+p.getValue());

        } catch (Throwable e) {
            log.error(e.getMessage(), e);

    public static Map<String, String> recursiveDescribe(Object object) {
        Set cache = new HashSet();
        return recursiveDescribe(object, null, cache);

    private static Map<String, String> recursiveDescribe(Object object, String prefix, Set cache) {
        if (object == null || cache.contains(object)) return Collections.EMPTY_MAP;
        prefix = (prefix != null) ? prefix + "." : "";

        Map<String, String> beanMap = new TreeMap<String, String>();

        Map<String, Object> properties = getProperties(object);
        for (String property : properties.keySet()) {
            Object value = properties.get(property);
            try {
                if (value == null) {
                    //ignore nulls
                } else if (Collection.class.isAssignableFrom(value.getClass())) {
                    beanMap.putAll(convertAll((Collection) value, prefix + property, cache));
                } else if (value.getClass().isArray()) {
                    beanMap.putAll(convertAll(Arrays.asList((Object[]) value), prefix + property, cache));
                } else if (Map.class.isAssignableFrom(value.getClass())) {
                    beanMap.putAll(convertMap((Map) value, prefix + property, cache));
                } else {
                    beanMap.putAll(convertObject(value, prefix + property, cache));
            } catch (Exception e) {
        return beanMap;

    private static Map<String, Object> getProperties(Object object) {
        Map<String, Object> propertyMap = getFields(object);
        //getters take precedence in case of any name collisions
        return propertyMap;

    private static Map<String, Object> getGetterMethods(Object object) {
        Map<String, Object> result = new HashMap<String, Object>();
        BeanInfo info;
        try {
            info = Introspector.getBeanInfo(object.getClass());
            for (PropertyDescriptor pd : info.getPropertyDescriptors()) {
                Method reader = pd.getReadMethod();
                if (reader != null) {
                    String name = pd.getName();
                    if (!"class".equals(name)) {
                        try {
                            Object value = reader.invoke(object);
                            result.put(name, value);
                        } catch (Exception e) {
                            //you can choose to do something here
        } catch (IntrospectionException e) {
            //you can choose to do something here
        } finally {
            return result;


    private static Map<String, Object> getFields(Object object) {
        return getFields(object, object.getClass());

    private static Map<String, Object> getFields(Object object, Class<?> classType) {
        Map<String, Object> result = new HashMap<String, Object>();

        Class superClass = classType.getSuperclass();
        if (superClass != null) result.putAll(getFields(object, superClass));

        //get public fields only
        Field[] fields = classType.getFields();
        for (Field field : fields) {
            try {
                result.put(field.getName(), field.get(object));
            } catch (IllegalAccessException e) {
                //you can choose to do something here
        return result;

    private static Map<String, String> convertAll(Collection<Object> values, String key, Set cache) {
        Map<String, String> valuesMap = new HashMap<String, String>();
        Object[] valArray = values.toArray();
        for (int i = 0; i < valArray.length; i++) {
            Object value = valArray[i];
            if (value != null) valuesMap.putAll(convertObject(value, key + "[" + i + "]", cache));
        return valuesMap;

    private static Map<String, String> convertMap(Map<Object, Object> values, String key, Set cache) {
        Map<String, String> valuesMap = new HashMap<String, String>();
        for (Object thisKey : values.keySet()) {
            Object value = values.get(thisKey);
            if (value != null) valuesMap.putAll(convertObject(value, key + "[" + thisKey + "]", cache));
        return valuesMap;

    private static ConvertUtilsBean converter = BeanUtilsBean.getInstance().getConvertUtils();

    private static Map<String, String> convertObject(Object value, String key, Set cache) {
        //if this type has a registered converted, then get the string and return
        if (converter.lookup(value.getClass()) != null) {
            String stringValue = converter.convert(value);
            Map<String, String> valueMap = new HashMap<String, String>();
            valueMap.put(key, stringValue);
            return valueMap;
        } else {
            //otherwise, treat it as a nested bean that needs to be described itself
            return recursiveDescribe(value, key, cache);