RFR(m): 8145468u1 deprecations for java.lang

Steven Schlansker stevenschlansker at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 23:03:00 UTC 2016

> On Apr 18, 2016, at 3:30 PM, Stuart Marks <stuart.marks at oracle.com> wrote:
> On 4/17/16 7:06 AM, Dave Brosius wrote:
>> Along these lines, is there a reason not to deprecate the
>> String(String s)
>> constructor? Now that substring doesn't glom off the original string, i see no
>> reason for this constructor.
> It's a fair point. But I think that historically there's been much greater awareness of Strings' identity than that of boxed primitives.
> At issue is string interning. When you compile a Java program, a string literal like "foo" is unavoidably interned. This is wired deeply into the language, compiler, and JVM, and has been so since 1.0.
> With boxed primitives, there is autoboxing, but it's only been around since Java 5. ("Only" 11 years.) There is a cache, and although this is mandated by the JLS, it's actually maintained only by the library.
> The notion of identity of strings seems stronger, thus there's a greater need for new String(String) if you want to guarantee a string has a unique identity.
> It also seems much more likely for us to be able to turn boxed primitives into values than to turn strings into values. (One issue is that strings can be of all different sizes, whereas all instances/values of a boxed primitive are of the same size.) Thus there appears to be a greater benefit to migrating code away from the box constructors than from the String(String) constructor.
> This is probably something that should be revisited at some point, though. There are probably more misuses of String(String) out there than there are legitimate uses.

As an example of a useful use of the new String(String) constructor, I once wrote (pseudo) code:

WeakHashMap<String, String> memoTable = new WeakHashMap<>();
public String memoTransform(String key) {
    String value = memoTable.get(key);
    if (value != null) return value;
    value = transform(key);  // Might be identity function and return 'key'
    memoTable.put(key, (key == value) ? new String(value) : value);

If you aren't careful to copy your value in this sort of situation, you can end with
never-collectible entries and therefore memory leaks in your weak hash table.

If substring were specified to always return unique objects, that could work as well --
but in my opinion the copy constructor is clearer when object identity is important,
and it looks like String sensibly avoids unnecessary copying:

String.java:1933  return (beginIndex == 0) ? this : new String(value, beginIndex, subLen);

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