Magic Number in Java: Everything You Need to Know

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Marketing Team

Tuesday Apr 25, 2023 ยท

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If you're a Java developer, you might have heard the term "magic number" in your daily work. A magic number is a numerical value used in programming that has a special meaning. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about magic numbers in Java. Magic numbers are values in computer programming that are often used without explanation and are hard to understand. They can be numbers, strings or any other data type that is not explained in the code. They are considered bad practice because they can make the code difficult to maintain and debug. If a programmer comes across a magic number in the code, they might not know what it means or how it was calculated. This can lead to confusion and errors in the code.


What is a Magic Number?

A magic number is a hardcoded numerical value that has a special meaning in a program. Magic numbers are used to represent various types of information, such as the size of a buffer or the number of iterations in a loop. They can be integers, floats, or any other numerical data type.


Why are Magic Numbers Bad?

Magic numbers are considered bad practice because they make the code harder to read and maintain. They can also cause errors if they are used incorrectly. For example, if a magic number is changed in one part of the code but not in another, it can lead to unexpected behavior.


How to Avoid Magic Numbers?

To avoid magic numbers, you can define constants in your code that represent the values of the magic numbers. This makes the code easier to read and maintain. For example, instead of using the value 10 in your code, you can define a constant with a descriptive name like MAXIMUM_NUMBER_OF_ITERATIONS. Moreover, magic numbers lack descriptive context, making it arduous for other developers (including yourself in the future) to grasp their purpose without further investigation. This lack of clarity can impede the overall readability and maintainability of the codebase.


Strategies to Mitigate Magic Numbers

To mitigate the drawbacks associated with magic numbers, it is crucial to follow best practices and adopt alternative approaches. The most effective technique is to replace magic numbers with constants, which convey meaning and enhance code clarity. By defining constants that represent the values of magic numbers, the code becomes easier to understand, modify, and debug.


How to Define Constants in Java?

A constant is a value that cannot be changed after assigning it. Java does not directly support the constants. There is an alternative way to define the constants in Java by using the non-access modifiers static and final.

In Java, you can define constants using the final keyword. Here's an example:

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final int MAXIMUM_NUMBER_OF_ITERATIONS = 10;

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Best Practices for Using Constants

Here are some best practices for using constants in Java:

  • Use descriptive names for your constants.
  • Define your constants at the top of your code file.
  • Use uppercase letters for your constant names.
  • Make your constants public if they need to be accessed from other classes.
  • Use enums for related constants.

Magic Numbers in Java Libraries

Java libraries also use magic numbers. For example, the java.awt. Color class has magic numbers for common colors like black and white. If you're using a Java library that defines magic numbers, make sure to use the constants provided by the library instead of hardcoding the values.

Conclusion

It is important to make the code as clear and easy to understand as possible for other programmers who may need to work on it in the future. Therefore, it is best to avoid using magic numbers, or at least to use them sparingly and with proper documentation. If you do use magic numbers, make sure to document them properly with comments or other documentation tools.

In conclusion, magic numbers are a common programming practice that can cause problems if used incorrectly. To avoid magic numbers, define constants in your code and follow best practices for using them. By doing so, you'll make your code easier to read and maintain and reduce the risk of errors in your program.`

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a grey symbol with curved linesWe at Plover bring you a weekly newsletter with the best new remote jobs, stories and ideas from the remote work community, and occasional offbeat pieces to feed your curiosity. a grey symbol with curved lines

by Marketing Team

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