Jonik Jonik - 4 months ago 10
Java Question

Is there an elegant way to remove nulls while transforming a Collection using Guava?

I have a question about simplifying some Collection handling code, when using Google Collections (update: Guava).

I've got a bunch of "Computer" objects, and I want to end up with a Collection of their "resource id"s. This is done like so:

Collection<Computer> matchingComputers = findComputers();
Collection<String> resourceIds =
Lists.newArrayList(Iterables.transform(matchingComputers, new Function<Computer, String>() {
public String apply(Computer from) {
return from.getResourceId();
}
}));


Now,
getResourceId()
may return null (and changing that is not an option right now), yet in this case I'd like to omit nulls from the resulting String collection.

Here's one way to filter nulls out:

Collections2.filter(resourceIds, new Predicate<String>() {
@Override
public boolean apply(String input) {
return input != null;
}
});


You could put all that together like this:

Collection<String> resourceIds = Collections2.filter(
Lists.newArrayList(Iterables.transform(matchingComputers, new Function<Computer, String>() {
public String apply(Computer from) {
return from.getResourceId();
}
})), new Predicate<String>() {
@Override
public boolean apply(String input) {
return input != null;
}
});


But this is hardly elegant, let alone readable, for such a simple task! In fact, plain old Java code (with no fancy Predicate or Function stuff at all) would arguably be much cleaner:

Collection<String> resourceIds = Lists.newArrayList();
for (Computer computer : matchingComputers) {
String resourceId = computer.getResourceId();
if (resourceId != null) {
resourceIds.add(resourceId);
}
}


Using the above is certainly also an option, but out of curiosity (and desire to learn more of Google Collections), can you do the exact same thing in some shorter or more elegant way using Google Collections?

Answer

There's already a predicate in Predicates that will help you here -- Predicates.notNull() -- and you can use Iterables.filter() and the fact that Lists.newArrayList() can take an Iterable to clean this up a little more.

Collection<String> resourceIds = Lists.newArrayList(
  Iterables.filter(
     Iterables.transform(matchingComputers, yourFunction),
     Predicates.notNull()
  )
);

If you don't actually need a Collection, just an Iterable, then the Lists.newArrayList() call can go away too and you're one step cleaner again!

I suspect you might find that the Function will come in handy again, and will be most useful declared as

public class Computer {
    // ...
    public static Function<Computer, String> TO_ID = ...;
}

which cleans this up even more (and will promote reuse).

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