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Java in a Nutshell

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2.10 Strings

Strings in Java are not null-terminated arrays of characters as they are in C. Instead, they are instances of the java.lang.String class. Java strings are unusual, in that the compiler treats them almost as if they were primitive types--for example, it automatically creates a String object when it encounters a double-quoted constant in the program. And, the language defines an operator that operates on String objects--the + operator for string concatenation.

An important feature of String objects is that they are immutable--i.e., there are no methods defined that allow you to change the contents of a String. If you need to modify the contents of a String, you have to create a StringBuffer object from the String object, modify the contents of the StringBuffer, and then create a new String from the contents of the StringBuffer.

Note that it is moot to ask whether Java strings are terminated with a NUL character (\u0000) or not. Java performs run-time bounds checking on all array and string accesses, so there is no way to examine the value of any internal terminator character that appears after the last character of the string.

Both the String and StringBuffer classes are documented in Chapter 25, The java.lang Package, and you'll find a complete set of methods for string handling and manipulation there. Some of the more important String methods are: length(), charAt(), equals(), compareTo(), indexOf(), lastIndexOf(), and substring().


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