Thursday, November 26, 2009

K ?

Whisper the terrible words type erasure to any moderately experienced Java programmer and you're likely to see:
  1. fear
  2. loathing
  3. soul-crushing sense of defeat
  4. all of the above
Now if you are a moderately experienced Java programmer, but you're thinking to yourself "what's type erasure ?" my advice is this:

Stop reading now !

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

My own rule of thumb, when confronted by the need to query the identity of K, or V, or T or any of their evil friends, in the innards of a class with generic type parameters, is to run away. Sadly, there are circumstances when that's just not an option. Although I deeply empathise with those who equate Java reflection with incest and folk dancing there are times when it's black magic or nothing. But where to find the magic ?

Enter Richard Gomes and his article: Using TypeTokens to retrieve generic parameters. This demonstrates the seemingly impossible feat of pulling erased rabbits out of Java's hat.

I'm off to try it now... "Nothing up my sleeve..."

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