Java: Why we use Annotations?
of the major goals of any IDE such
is to enhance ease of development. The IDE generally provides the boilerplate
code for many types of applications so that the developer can focus on the core
functionality of the application. However, having source code that does not contain
any boilerplate code makes it easier to maintain and create a bug-free
· Annotations help achieve
this goal by facilitating the tool vendors in generating the boilerplate code.
Besides this, annotations
help in code analysis and checking.
Other uses of annotations
include documenting our code for the benefit of fellow developers and providing
vital runtime information to testing tools.
learn all these benefits as we read this section. Annotations are like meta-tags—a
data about data. One such annotation (meta-tag) we have already come across in
Java’s documentation is @Deprecated.
added many more annotations, as well as added the facility for creating our own
annotations. Annotations (also known as metadata) provide a formalized way to
add information to our code so that we can easily use that data at some later
are partly motivated by a general trend toward combining metadata with
source-code files, instead of keeping it in external documents. They are also a
response to feature pressure from other languages like C#.
annotation is a mechanism in the Java language that allows developers to attach
information to different parts of their code. Two instances of annotations we might
have noticed while surfing through Java’s documentation are
do not become a part of our code in the sense that they do not alter the code behaviour
at runtime. They also do not change the code semantics. They are helpful in
Whether our methods are
dependent on other methods,
Whether our methods are
Whether our classes have
references to other classes, and so on.
simply help tool vendors to assist us in writing error-free code. Deployment
tools such as the EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) deployer can also use annotations to
achieve error-free deployment.
will discuss the annotations relevant to the Java language and not consider the
ones used by deployment tools.
can replace existing systems like XDoclet,
which is an independent doclet tool that is specifically designed for creating
annotation-style doclets. In contrast, annotations are true language constructs
and hence are structured, and are type-checked at compile time. Keeping all the
information in the actual source code and not in comments makes the code neater
and easier to maintain. By using and extending the annotation API and tools, or
with external bytecode manipulation libraries as we will see, we can perform
powerful inspection and manipulation of our source code as well as the bytecode.
will cover the following three built-in annotations:
will learn the use of @Deprecated
annotation in the next posts.