jTnks jTnks - 4 months ago 17
Java Question

Difference between Package and Directory in Java

In a Java Project, does keeping all the .java files in the same folder mean they are in the same package?

What is the difference in making a Package for our project compared to keeping all the project files in one folder?

This thread doesn't really address my question.

Answer

There is a relationship between package and directory, but it's one that you must maintain. If you have a class that's in "mypackage1.mypackage2", that means that the java command is going to expect to find it in a directory structure named "mypackage1\mypackage2" (assuming "backwards" Windows notation), with that directory structure further embedded in a directory (let's call it "myjava") whose name is in the classpath (or else is directly in the "current directory").

So your Java class (which internally says package mypackage1.mypackage2;) is in, say, "\Users\myName\myjava\mypackage1\mypackage2\", and you place "\Users\myName\myjava" in the class path, or else you have your current directory set to "\Users\myName\myjava".

If you mix this up, either the class will not be found at all, or you will get an error something like the ever-nebulous "NoClassDefFoundError".

As to why one would use packages (and directories), the reason has to do with "name space" and "separation of concerns" (look those up). Java would be much harder to keep straight if there were no packages and all the "java.lang", "java.io", "sun.misc", et al classes were together. First off, one would have to use name "prefixes" to keep them straight and avoiding name conflicts. And much of the logical grouping would be lost.

With your own projects you don't need to use packages for simple little programs you write for yourself, but if you write something you might give to someone else it's polite to use a package such as "myname.myproject" (substituting your name and project of course), so the person you give it to can combine it with others without name conflicts.

In large applications you'll find using further levels of separation helps you keep the functions straight, so you know where everything is. It also discourages you from "crossing the boundary" between different functional areas, so you don't get unrelated logic entertwined.

Eclipse (if you use that) kind of muddles the issue a bit because it "wants" to provide directory and package names and will sometimes (but not always) keep them in sync.

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