Saturday, 8 October 2011

Java: Exceptions: Kinds of Errors

Whoa, this is late, I overslept like crazy! And yes, I suppose with my new found knowledge I could do android apps Y'know, when I'm done with these last 3 chapters. I'll make a whole segment about it, where you vote for what you want made etc. But that's for the (near?) future, not now! :D

So basically, we're on the chapter dealing with exceptions now, and the basic idea is that an exception is an error, and occurs when shit goes bad. I paraphrase, but its much better to "throw" an exception, that is, to stop a program running when it encounters an error, than just simply leave a message and continue as if nothing went wrong. Primarily, this is because we would, without throwing the exception, be covering up the fact that a problem occurred. Further, without throwing an error, you're more than likely going to be forced to return a valid value that will cause problems elsewhere!

For instance, back to our Stack<Car>. Say we popped a value off the stack, but the stack is empty. Normally, in a fully functional program, we'd have safeguards stopping this from being possible, but then again, ideally, no errors would occur either. So we pop a value off an empty stack, using that value to perform some other piece of functionality. We'd get a "null" returned, most likely.
Now, if the stack was to say, create a setup of Cars, like, you only want 8 cars in a room, you're going to end up with an infinite amount of cars that have no object type. The room will never be created, because, while putting in "null", which is basically nothing, takes basically no time, values are going to keep popping off this empty stack, and it'll be such a goddamn mess. BUT, if you had error throwing in place, you'd be fine. The program would stop and tell you to fix your shit. Ideally, it wouldn't end the program unexpectedly, though, but first save all current data and whatnot so as to not lose current progress.

Convinced? Good.

Errors themselves can be put into a few different categories:


Let's go through them briefly, shall we?

Syntax Errors
These are easiest to deal with, I think. They are caused by the non-conformity of your source code with Java rules and regulations. A little order is a good thing in code! Missing brackets or a semicolon could cause this, or keywords in a wrong place etc. Your IDE should spot these as you type, so it's rarely an issue beyond figuring out why you're getting the error.

Type Errors
These tend to be caused by mismatching, you guessed it, types. For example, assigning the value "a" to something initialized as an integer. Or perhaps calling a method that the class of a certain object just doesn't have (calling pop() on a Car).

Logic Errors
These are very different to the first 2. These are errors in your algorithms or implementations of the algorithms in your code. These, unfortunately, cannot be detected by the Java compiler, since they only manifest when the program is running, and noticed when it doesn't end., for instance. Or computes the wrong value. Popping off an empty stack, as above, for instance. Or an infinite loop (while 1 is greater than 0, do...)
This is pretty much up to the programmer to find and deal with. Normally through exceptions, and just generally checking your loops etc.

Run-time Errors
Similar to logic errors, except not caused by the program being constructed poorly. Instead, this is caused by an event that occurred either totally unexpectedly (Why would you divide by 0?) or outside the range of conditions the program was designed to deal with (Write us a program that will give all the Fibonacci sequence until a maximum of the 15th term. User asks for a sequence 16 long). This is normally a question of handling user input well, since your users are idiots, probably, and can't be trusted at all, with anything.

The last 2 are normally the source of exceptions. Unexpected events that suck. Exceptions that aren't handled are the bane of everyone's existence. These normally end up in a not-fun termination of the program. Nothing saved, nothing completed, just all around bad mojo. Very annoying. Ideally, we'll want to recover the situation and soldier on. Failing that, save data before safely terminating.

Now that we got the basic concept, I think I'll get to work, so that's it for now..Questions welcome! Comment, follow, subscribe, share etc, and see you on Monday!

And as part of a shameless plug for a friend, if you're interested in classic movies/books/music, visit his site here (fixed), and feel free to throw loads of criticism at us. 


  1. Reading syntax error reminded me the times when i screwed up with my calculator and that damned syntax error would pop up :@

  2. Syntax errors are the ones I encounter the most. :\

  3. aargh, I've seen all of these so many times in the learning process...