Pure Danger Tech


Type specific Comparators in JDK 5

22 Nov 2006

Took me a few minutes today to figure out how to implement a type-specific Comparator in JDK 5, so I thought I would blog it. In JDK 5, the Comparator class is parameterized with the type of the object being compared (Comparator).

I wanted to define a ThingComparator that was not paramaterized and was specific to Things, not generic. I don’t think I’ve run across the case of wanted to extend and specialize the generic-ness out of a class before now.

It turns out to be quite easy:

public class ThingComparator implements Comparator<Thing> {
    public int compare(Thing t1, Thing t2) {
        // nifty thing comparison logic

The nice thing here is that the compare() method is defined in terms of the Comparator type (int compare(<strong>T</strong> o1, <strong>T</strong> o2)). Thus, the compare method that you are expected to implement is in terms of Thing, not in terms of Object as it would have been in JDK 1.4. And thus, no casting is necessary as the compiler will enforce that this comparator cannot be used on the wrong type.