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Java Language Reference

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Statements and Control Structures
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6.12 The try Statement

A try statement provides a way to catch exceptions and execute clean-up code for a block:

[Graphic: Figure from the text]

[Graphic: Figure from the text]

A try statement contains a block of code to be executed. A try statement can have any number of optional catch clauses; these clauses act as exception handlers for the try block. A try statement can also have a finally clause. If present, the finally block is always executed before control leaves the try statement, so it is a good place to supply clean-up code for the try block. Note that a try statement must have either a catch clause or a finally clause.

Here is an example of a try statement that includes a catch clause and a finally clause:

try {
    out.write(b);
} catch (IOException e) {
    System.out.println("Output Error");
} finally {
    out.close();
}

If out.write() throws an IOException, the exception is caught by the catch clause. Regardless of whether out.write() returns normally or throws an exception, the finally block is executed, which ensures that out.close() is always called.

A try statement begins by executing the block that follows the keyword try. If an exception is thrown from within the try block and the try statement has any catch clauses, those clauses are searched in order for one that can handle the exception. A catch clause can handle an exception if the ClassOrInterfaceName specified in the clause is the same class as or a superclass of the object specified in the throw statement that caused the exception. The ClassOrInterfaceName specified in a catch clause must be Throwable or be one of its subclasses. If a catch clause handles an exception, that catch block is executed.

If an exception is thrown from within the try block and the try statement does not have any catch clauses that can handle the exception, the exception propagates up to the next enclosing try statement. An exception also propagates up if it is thrown from within a catchblock in a try statement.

The identifier specified in parentheses for the catch clause is defined as a local variable within the catch block. The local variable is initialized to refer to the thrown object, in a manner that is similar to the way it which formal parameters for a method are handled. This means that an identifier in a catch clause cannot have the same name as a local variable or formal parameter that is defined in an enclosing block. If the catch parameter is declared as final, any assignment to that parameter in the catch block generates an error. The syntax for specifying final catch parameters is not supported prior to Java 1.1.

Any catch clauses in a try statement are checked in sequence to see if they can handle a given exception. Thus, the order in which catch clauses appear is important. In essence, more specific catch clauses should appear before more general catch clauses. Figure 6.1 shows the inheritance hierarchy for a few of the classes of objects that can be thrown in Java.

Based on the classes shown in Figure 6.1, consider the following example:

try {
    System.out.write(b);
} catch (InterruptedIOException e) { ...
} catch (IOException e) { ...
} catch (Exception e) { ...
}

The catch clauses in this example appear in order from most specific to least specific. That means that if an InterruptedIOException were thrown, it would be caught by the first catch clause. Similarly, an IOException would be caught by the second catch clause and an Exception would be caught by the third clause. If, however, the catch clause for Exception appeared first, neither of the other catch clauses would ever be executed because the catch clause for Exception would catch all of the exceptions.

If a try statement includes a finally clause, the finally block is always executed before control leaves the try statement. There are two different ways that control can leave a try statement:

  • The try statement completes normally. Normal completion occurs when all of the statements in the try block have been executed, so that control falls out of the bottom of the try block. Normal completion can also occur when an exception is thrown in the try block, as long as the exception is handled by a catch clause in the try statement.

  • The try statement completes abruptly, due to an attempted control transfer out of the try block. A break, continue, or return statement in the try block causes an abrupt completion. In addition, abrupt completion can occur when an exception occurs and is not handled by a catch clause in the try statement, since the exception propagates out of the try block.

If a try statement completes normally and it does not have a finally clause, the statement following the try statement is the next statement to be executed. However, if the try statement does have a finally clause, the finally block is executed first, before control can be transferred to the statement following the try statement. If the finally block contains a break, continue, return, or throw statement, the pending control transfer is forgotten and control is instead transferred to the target of the break, continue, return, or throw statement in the finally block.

If a try statement completes abruptly and it does not have a finally clause, the control transfer out of the try block takes place immediately. However, if the try statement does have a finally clause, the finally block is executed first, before the control transfer can take place. If the finally block contains a break, continue, return, or throw statement, the pending control transfer is forgotten and control is instead transferred to the target of the break, continue, return, or throw statement in the finally block.

References Blocks; Exception Handling 9; Expression 4; Identifiers; The break Statement; The continue Statement; The return Statement; The throw Statement; Throwable Type 3;


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