Introduction to JShell : The Java Shell

In this article we will be taking a look at the new tool, JShell, which is a part of the Java 9 release.

What is JShell ?

It is an interactive tool or shell also referred to as REPL ( Read- Evaluate-Print loop) that is packaged as part of  Java 9 release. REPL is basically Reading input or data typed by the user, Evaluating the input , Printing the result that was evaluated and then going back to read the next input(Looping).

Why JShell ?

It is a very handy tool for developers both old and new wanting to explore the Java language by trying or experimenting snippets of code.

First time Java developers who wish to get started with the Java language can use JShell to write small pieces of code and later on move to IDE’s like Eclipse, STS, IntelliJ to set up full fledged projects.

For the experienced Java developer who wants to explore a new API or try out short  examples, the JShell can be quite useful. Let us say you are in the midst of fixing a bug or implementing a new functionality in an existing class using an API you have not tried before. Typical way to do this would be to create a new class with a main method in your code repository, type in the sample code for the API, right-click and run. Finally, we would copy the code and paste it somewhere in the existing code. As we age, we tend to forget a few things like deleting the sample file with the main method or sometimes we might even create a main method in an existing class where the new code is needed. While checking in, we might just check in the file with the main method only for your lead to do a code review which will obviously be rejected. This is assuming your lead does a proper code review !

Starting JShell

Open a command prompt, go to your  <Jdk 9  Installation>/bin directory and type jshell. You can also add it to your environment variables so that it can be started from any directory on the command prompt.

Some of the things we can do with JShell

  • Additionaddition

You don’t need JShell to check that 2+3=5. However make note of the variable created above , $1. This is a temporary variable. But, did you realize that we did not write a class with a main method with a System.out.println to print the result of 2+3 ?

  • Exploring Lambdas, the shiny new feature – Wait a minute, these are more like shiny old features introduced in Java 8!Consumer_Lambda

Did you notice the nice lambda created above ?

  • Can’t remember the method in the Consumer interface?Consumer_Lambda_Tab

Type in the name of the variable(s) created above , followed by a dot and press tab ! You get a bunch of methods that can be called on the Consumer interface. For the Consumer interface, it is the accept method that we are interested in.

  • Let’s try something with Streamsstreams

The moment you create a Stream which is referenced by the strings variable above, notice the type of strings. It is a ReferencePipeLine, JShell returns the type of the variable too!

  • Create a class, declare methods and variablesclass

Notice that after typing class Test { and pressing enter, JShell is intelligent enough to figure out that you are not yet done with the current statement and hence it waits for the next line of code.

  • Listing out variables declared so farvars

Get a list of all the variables using the /var command. To get a list of all the methods, use the /methods command.

  • Listing all the code typed in so farlist

Use the /list command. We performed an addition, created a Lambda , a Stream , created a class, then an object and called the getValue method. The /list command, simply lists them.

  • Typed in some code, time for a tea break, worried about machine crash ?save

You can save your code snippets using the /save command. Make sure you have the right permissions to save/create a file. You can follow that up with a /open command which will simply execute the code in the file.

  • Made a mistake, want to edit something ?editTyping the /edit command as shown above opens up a window where you can go and edit the code you typed. Using our knowledge of method reference, we can change the lambda expression from (String s) -> System.out.println(s) to System.out::println. On clicking the accept button, the change is reflected.


Notice that the /vars command now lists the updated reference to the Lambda expression.

  • Create a package

Come on , JShell is not for that. The entire thing is just in a package. Now, don’t whine that JShell does not allow you to create packages. It is not meant to do that !

  • Want to quit JShell ?

Inform JShell by typing  /exit. JShell politely says GoodBye to you. Well, you could be a little rude and press Ctrl-D to exit JShell, in that case don’t expect JShell to say Goodbye!


JShell is a great addition to the JDK 9 release. Use it to experiment snippets of code and get immediate feedback. This article was just a quick introduction. JShell also has an API which can be used to integrate it into an IDE or a tool.

JDK 9 reached GA on 21st September 2017, to take a look at all the features, visit the openjdk site here.

Java 8 map and flatMap

In this post, we will be taking a look at the map and flatMap methods introduced in Java 8. We will be looking at a scenario where the map method does not produce the required output and why we really need the flatMap method. I will be using multiple examples to illustrate the same and also show you imperative and declarative styles of coding.

map: Let us consider the scenario where we have a collection of Person objects. Given a list of person objects, what if we wanted to return only the names of the people who have UK citizenship.

The imperative style of writing code would give us the following:

To get this, we have to initialize an empty list, iterate through the loop, filter the people who have UK citizenship and then add the names to the empty list we create.Let’s try and solve this the  declarative way, using the map method.

The map method basically takes an object of one type and gives us an object of another type.

filter,map and collect – Once the knob is turned on, everything happens !

The signature of the map method:

<R> Stream<R> map(Function<? super T,? extends R> mapper)

The signature looks complicated but it is easy to understand. The R is the output type of the stream and T is the input type.

Remember how the filter method (explained here) took a Predicate as a parameter? The map method takes a Function. This is also a functional interface. The function gets applied to each element. The p -> p.getName is a lambda expression, the function that gets applied to the Person object.  To understand this better, we could write the same thing as follows:

Remember that the map method takes one object and returns exactly one object. This is 1-1.

Few more examples of map API:

1.Given a list of numbers, we want to generate the square of each number:

We have input as a list of numbers of 1 type and we want to transform it:

Input: List<Integer> numbers = Arrays.asList(1,2,3,4,5);


[2, 4, 6, 8, 10]

2. Given a list of string, convert each string to upper case:

Transformation of one type to another, this time String to String – use map function


List<String> strings = Arrays.asList(“abc”,”pqr”,”xyz”);

Output:  [ABC, PQR, XYZ]

3.Given a list of string, find the length of each string:


List<String> strings = Arrays.asList(“abc”,”pqr”,”xyz”);

Input to the map is a string and output is the length of each string.

Output: [3, 3, 3]

FlatMap: To understand the flatMap, let us consider a different example. Let us consider there are 3 systems and each system returns a list of strings. There is an application which combines these lists and sends the data back to us. Our system needs to take this input and generate all the strings as a single output.

List<String> system1 = Arrays.asList(“AB”,”cd”,”EF”);

List<String> system2 = Arrays.asList(“GH”,”ij”);

List<String> system3 = Arrays.asList(“kl”,”MN”,”op”);


List<List<String>> input = Arrays.asList(system1,system2,system3);

Attempt 1: The input type is a List of List<String>.  We want to get all the strings from this input. We know that the map function helps us to transform an object. Will it help us here?  Let us take this step by step.

The call to the  returns a Stream<List<String>>

This gives an output:

[AB, CD, EF]

[GH, ij]

[kl, MN, op]

When we apply the map function, each time we are getting a list. But we need the individual elements in that list as a combined result. How do we get that?

When we have a single list as shown below and we applied the stream() to method to it, what happened?

List<String> strings = Arrays.asList(“A”,”b”,”C”);


This gave us the individual elements in that stream. So will applying the stream method to the list above solve the issue? Let’s try

Attempt 2:  Applying a stream to the list and using a map

This gives a weird output like this:$Head@87aac27$Head@3e3abc88$Head@6ce253f1

This gives us a stream of objects. So the usage of the map method in this scenario is not right. This is because the map method as mentioned earlier takes an input and produces one output. But in this case, the map method takes a list and we want the individual elements of that list to be combined together. This is not what the map function does. We need to use a different function.

Attempt 3: Using a flatMap

This gives us the required output:









Let us break flatMap up into 2 operations:


[ [AB, CD, EF]      [GH, ij]           [kl, MN, op] ]

  Stream 1             Stream 2           Stream 3

flatten it:

AB, cd, EF             GH, ij               kl ,MN ,op

The flatMap() does a map + flat. Flattening here is of the individual streams from each item in the list to a single stream. The flatMap() methods needs a stream and hence the list-> flatMap method takes an input and can give either 0 or more elements.

Let us consider another example to understand this well. Let us consider 3 different football leagues. The English Premier league, the LIGA BBVA or the Spanish League and the Bundesliga. Each league has a list of teams. We can represent this as:

Problem: Given a list of leagues, we need to return the names of the all the teams in the leagues.

Imperative style:

Declarative style using map:

We have a list of leagues. When we call stream() on it, it will operate on a single League object. But a league has multiple teams in it.  If we try solving this using map() then we land up getting this:


We land up getting 3 streams. This means that the map operation is not the right fit here. We need a function that can take these streams and combine each of these elements in these streams to a unified output.

This is the scenario for a flatMap() as we have a collection of collections. So the input is  a collection of leagues and each league has another collection which is team.

When you have a collection of collections and want a unified output, use the flatMap.

I hope you have understood the basics of both map and flatMap methods and the scenarios in which they should be applied.


Using Spock to test JPA entities in a Spring Boot application

In my previous post we saw how to test JPA entities along with the Spring Data repository layer in a Spring Boot based application. We made use of JUnit and the AssertJ library.

In this post we will look at how to use the Spock framework to test the same. In fact, in this example, I will be using a combination of Spock based tests along with JUnit tests.To know more about the Spock framework, view the official site here. Spock is a testing and specification framework for Java and Groovy applications.

Let’s get started…

Setup using maven: ( pom.xml)  

  1. We need to add the spock-spring dependency. This will bring in the dependencies required to run Spock based tests in a Spring boot based application.
  2. Notice the use of <spock.version>1.1-groovy-2.4</spock.version>. We are overriding the spock version. Spring Boot 1.5.4 brings in version 1.0 of Spock, however this needs a @ContextConfiguration to run Spock based tests in a Spring Boot application. Overriding the version to 1.1 removes the need to add this annotation.
  3. In the plugin section , we need to add the dependency for groovy-eclipse-compiler which will compile the groovy code. Spock is based on groovy and hence using Spock to write tests means we write groovy code.

Test classes using Spock

As mentioned in my earlier post, let us consider the same example of 2 JPA entities, SocialMediaSite and Users ( OneToMany). A User has an email which we represented as EmailAddress value object.  The test class for this looks as follows:


  1. The test class extends spock.lang.Specification. This is how you begin writing a Spock based test.
  2. Notice the method names are strings, nice descriptive methods names.
  3. The when/then syntax is for assertions. It’s like saying, “Hey, when this happens then check these things”.
  4. The where section is the first test method above is data driven.Notice the first 2 columns, emailAddress and a blank. This is because data driven tables in Spock need 2 columns. We need just one. The next rows supply data to the same method.Hence this method is run with all the values mentioned in the first column starting from the 2nd row. Now that is awesome compared to writing multiple methods which do the same thing or if you are using TestNG, this is done using a DataProvider.
  5. Notice that we have not used any Assertion library here. In Spock this is done using ==.


Notice the @DataJpaTest annotation on the class. It  spawns an in-memory data base and runs our tests  against it. Along with this, the JPA entities are scanned, Transactions, Hibernate  and Spring Data are also configured. There is no need to add @ContextConfiguration as we are using Spock 1.1.

Running Spock tests and JUnit tests together

I have added the 2 groovy test files in src/test/groovy.  We can have tests written in JUnit too. I have a JUnit based test class in src/test/java. The groovy eclipse compiler dependency we added in the pom.xml compiles and run tests from both the packages.


This is my first experience with Spock framework and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing tests with it ! There is of course a lot more to the Spock framework. I hope you have enjoyed this quick introduction to Spock for testing Spring Data Repository and JPA entities in a Spring Boot application. The synergy between Spock and the testing changes made in Spring Boot since version 1.4 (test slices) is great !

You can find the project on github.

Testing JPA entities in a Spring Boot application

In this blog we will look at how to get started with testing JPA entities and Spring Data Repository in a Spring Boot based application. We will be using JUnit for the same.

I have observed that a good number of projects do not write any tests for JPA entities or the repository layers which make use of the entities to perform CRUD operations. Writing tests for JPA entities and Spring data repositories can be really effective in checking if all the entities are mapped correctly and ensuring that the repository methods implemented by Spring Data along with the custom methods that you write are behaving in the right way. After all , most applications always talk to a database and if your data is not being handled properly, what is the point of having a great user interface or a well designed business layer ?

Since Spring Boot 1.4, testing these layers has become quite easy and more focused. Let us consider a simple One-Many relation between 2 entities, SocialMediaSite and  a User.

A SocialMediaSite can have many users which is mapped using the @OneToMany JPA annotation.

Notice that EmailAddress is  a value object. – This is a Spring Data Repository interface( a proxy instance is created via Spring to back this interface) –  Test the JPA entities.

The setUp method annotated with the @Before annotation above initializes some mock data that we can use for the tests.

The key takeaways from this class:

  1.  @RunWith(SpringRunner .class) – This brings together JUnit and the Spring test  module. The  SpringRunner class extends SpringJUnit4ClassRunner, so it is pretty  much the  same that was used earlier. Shorter class names are always pleasing to  the eye.
  2.  @DataJpaTest   This is the most important annotation for testing JPA entities in a  Spring Boot application. It  spawns an in-memory data base and runs our tests  against it. Along with this, the  JPA entities are scanned, Transactions, Hibernate  and Spring Data are also configured.
  3.  TestEntityManager   The @DataJpaTest also configures a TestEntityManager, this  is an alternative to the EntityManager. It actually makes use of the EntityManager  but has a nice set of methods like persistAndGetId, persistAndFlush etc.
  4.  AssertJ  The code above uses the AssertJ library to perform all the assertions, this  is a nice way to get all the assertions done very fluently ! This is pulled in by the  spring-boot-starter-test dependency.
  5.  Junit – This is also pulled in by the spring-boot-starter-test dependency

On similar lines, the tests for the Repository class can also be written as shown below.

SocialMediaSiteRepositoryTest .java


As you can see, testing JPA entities and the repository layer in a Spring Boot based application is quite simple. We don’t need configuration for the entire application(all layers) to test the database related functionality. Using the @DataJpaTest in Spring boot helps us in configuring and testing just the JPA section in the code.

Writing good tests for the JPA/Hibernate entities and the repository layer against an embedded database can be extremely useful in the long run. Any changes in the database schema or in the entity mapping which might lead to issues at run time can be caught immediately. In addition one can also see the SQL queries being executed which can be extremely useful.

You can find the code on github.

Getting Intimate with Spring Boot and Hibernate

In my previous blog , we looked at how to get started with a simple Spring Boot and Hibernate application. We managed to get our application up and running in a few minutes.

In this article, we will look at how and what Spring Boot does behind the scenes.

Basic requirement

To setup a Spring based application with Hibernate/JPA we usually need the following:

  1. Datasource  which connects to a database and details like the database url, password, username – this is really independent of whether we use Spring, JPA.
  2. JPA EntityManager to perform repository(CRUD) related operations.
  3. Vendor specific (Hibernate) properties
  4. Transaction support.

Let us take a look at how these things get configured.

In case of an in memory H2 database, all of the above was configured automatically by Spring Boot. We did not write a single configuration either using Java configuration or XML. Well, how does Spring Boot do everything for us?  Let’s take a look :

Vanishing (configuration) act explained :

1. The starting point is the spring.factories file. This file has a Auto Configure section which Spring Boot uses to determine what should be auto configured. This file is in the META-INF folder which is part of the spring-boot-autoconfigure-<version>.RELEASE.jar. The SpringFactoriesLoader class loads the spring.factories file.

2. Since we are talking about JPA/Hibernate, the spring.factories contains a (among other autoconfigurations) key value pair: org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.EnableAutoConfiguration=\org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.orm.jpa.HibernateJpaAutoConfiguration

3. The key EnableAutoConfiguration above is triggered using the @SpringBootApplication annotation on the file. This is our starting point in our application.

4. The value part above, HibernatJpaAutoConfiguration class which is part of the Spring framework looks like

One of the important annotations above is on line 4 :

@AutoConfigureAfter({ DataSourceAutoConfiguration.class }).

This indicates that we should perform HibernateJpaAutoConfiguration only after reading the DataSourceAutoConfiguration.class or only if a Datasource is found on the classpath. It would make no sense to configure JPA and Hibernate without a datasource/database !

5. The DataSourceAutoConfiguration looks as follows:

6. This is a normal Spring Configuration class which sets up the DataSource only if all of the above annotations satisfy our criteria. We used an H2 database and hence the DataSource.class and EmbeddedDatabaseType.class satisfies the condition.

7. Now the configuration moves back to step 4 where we needed the presence of  datasource/database at minimum. Now on to the next part where the following is checked :

@ConditionalOnClass({ LocalContainerEntityManagerFactoryBean.class, EntityManager.class })

This is configuration specific to JPA classes and the @ConditionalOnClass checks if these classes are there on the class path. There are present in our case through the Spring Data JPA library.

8.Next comes the @Conditional(HibernateEntityManagerCondition.class) . This checks if the JPA provider is Hibernate, this is done via the In our case it is true since Spring Boot brings in Hibernate as the default provider of JPA and is on the classpath.

9.Once these conditions are satisfied, the HibernateJpaAutoConfiguration extends the JpaBaseConfiguration class.

This is annotated with the @EnableConfigurationProperties(JpaProperties.class).  This JpaProperties.class is annotated with @ConfigurationProperties(prefix = “spring.jpa”) . This gets triggered if we were to add any properties in our file. We would use this if we were to add any jpa specific properties. We did not add any and hence the default is assumed.

10.The JpaBaseConfiguration class contains all the other remaining configurations. It primarily uses the @ConditionalOnMissingBean annotation to configure the EntityManager, JpaVendorAdapter, LocalContainerEntityManagerFactoryBean, JpaTransactionManager if they have already not been configured. The @ConditionalOnMissingBean when applied on a method means – if this bean has not been configured, then execute the method and configure it.

So in this way, datasource, entitymanager, vendor(hibernate) specific properties and transactions get configured. If you have setup a Spring Hibernate application before, we would do the same using Java configuration or an xml and configure the above mentioned properties. You can configure any specific properties and in that case Spring Boot will skip auto configuring that property.


All the Harry Houdini illusions or Spring Boot magic starts from the spring.factories file and then through the usage of some powerful annotations like @ConditionalOnMissingBean, ConditionalOnClass,@AutoConfigureAfter , Jpa/Datasource/Transactions gets configured depending on what is found in the classpath. Spring Boot will not configure a property or a bean if it was already configured.

Complaining is a Habit ?

I have heard people complaining about the so-called magic in Spring Boot. Well, when Spring folks gave us xml configurations, we complained ! They gave us configurations via annotations and Java Configuration to get rid of the xml, we still complained ! Now, things get configured automatically…..and we still complain. Complaining can be good at times, the folks at Pivotal have been listening to our complaints and have been giving us fantastic tools/ frameworks. But let’s not forget that the details are out there, let’s explore a little more before complaining.






Spring Boot and Hibernate – Quick Introduction

It has been a while since I wrote this blog about how I  discovered Spring Boot. A surgery to fix my ACL and meniscus tear has kept me away from a lot of things, more about that in a different blog. But it is time we got a little intimate with Spring Boot.

In this blog we will look at how to setup a simple Spring Boot application with JPA/Hibernate. I remember shying away from writing/experimenting any code whenever I heard – setting up something with Spring. Those were the dark ages ! Well, if you haven’t tried the super cool Spring Initializr yet , it is high time you did. You can setup Spring based projects in an absolute flash !

All I did was enter JPA, H2 in the Search for dependencies  box and imported the project in my IDE.



The pom.xml from the imported project contains the following important dependencies:

We added 2 things in the search box, JPA and H2 and so now the pom.xml contains dependencies corresponding to that:

  1. The spring-boot-started-data-jpa dependency brings in the latest version of the Hibernate, support for transactions, spring-data-jpa etc. Not only does it bring in the latest versions but also compatible versions. Notice that we need not add spring-orm and all the pain to setup the latest and compatible versions of Hibernate, JPA, transactions. This is done automatically for us.
  2. The h2 dependency above is for an embedded database that we will be using. One can easily replace that with the respective database in your project. Since h2 database will be present on the classpath, Spring Boot will configure the h2 database for us. If you add the dependency for Mysql database, Spring Boot will help configuring a MySql database.

JPA Entity

To keep things simple, we are going to create a Project entity which contains id, name and description and persist this  data. We will use Spring Data to persist and fetch the data.

Application starting point

The starting point in our application is the

The output from running the file above: (lines 4 – 8)

Sample Data added via the Initializer

In addition to the, there is a which is run by Spring Boot on startup. It contains initialization code which inserts some Project entities into the H2 database and then fetches one of the project details. This class is run on start up as it implements the CommandLineRunner interface. I am currently using it to persist some data into the H2 database.

The Spring Boot starter data jpa brings in the Spring Data project which we are using to persist and retrieve the data.

Package structure

This is how the package structure looks :



Gotchas – Packages and Spring  component scanning

Since all the classes were in the same package, the @SpringBootApplication annotation simply scanned and picked up all classes which were in the same package. This works as the @SpringBootApplication does Auto Configuration for us via the @EnableAutoConfiguration annotation. This would also work if other Spring beans were in sub or child packages.

If the Repository and the entities were in a different package with respect to the which contains the main method, we need to do slightly more work:


As shown above, and are in a completely different package as compared to the class containing the main method. We need to now inform Spring Boot to enable/scan the repository and entity related classes. This is simply done by modifying the and adding 2 annotations, @EnableJpaRepositories and @EntityScan. The annotations contain the information about packages that need to be scanned to enable the Jpa repository and scan the JPA entity related classes.No other change is needed and everything runs as usual.


So it is really quite simple and super quick to setup a Spring Boot JPA project. The starter projects brings in all the required dependencies and also provides us with default and most importantly right and latest configurations if we don’t specify any. We can always override the default configurations by adding our own and Spring Boot will happily skip that part.

I think in case of Spring Boot, we can really say – Less (no?) Pain, More Gain !

All the code can be found here : Github

Unspecified behavior of the Java Iterator

In this article we will take a look at how the behavior of the Iterator produces some surprising results if not used in the right away.

In my previous article, we saw different ways of  removing elements from an ArrayList. When we used the remove(Object o) method from the ArrayList while we traverse through the ArrayList, we get a ConcurrentModificationException. But is this always the case ?

Well, let’s consider the same example of removing a person below the age of 18 from an ArrayList but with a different data set.

Most of the code remains the same, the only thing that has changed is the data. Notice the Person data on the 2nd last and last elements in the ArrayList.

persons.add(new Person("Kimmo", 17, Gender.MALE, Citizenship.FINLAND));
persons.add(new Person("Simo", 17, Gender.MALE, Citizenship.FINLAND));

Well, anyways, we should get a ConcurrentModificationException! Right ?

On running this the output :

[Rahul, Sally, Ben, Wayne, ShaneYoung, Simo]

Shocked ? No exception ! Not just that , Simo should have been filtered. Well, lucky Simo! He can still have beer even though he is 17.

So what is happening  ?  Why is an exception not thrown and why is the last element returned ?

The 2nd last element satisfies the filtering criteria , it gets deleted. When it gets deleted, the size of the ArrayList is reduced by 1. But, the combination of Iterating and calling remove(Object o) makes the Iterator to behave in a weird way.  When remove(Object o) is called, it makes a call to the fastRemove method which reduces the size of the list. Then there is a call to the hasNext() on the iterator to check if there are more elements to to traversed. The hasNext() looks as follows:

public boolean hasNext() {
    return cursor != size;

The cursor is an index that points to the index of the next element that will be processed. It starts from 0. In our case when we delete the 2nd last element, the cursor value is 6.

Before deleting: (size =7 , cursor =6 at Simo)


After deleting: (size =6 , cursor = 6 at Simo)


Original value of size in our list is 7. When 2nd last element(Kimmo) is deleted, size =6 , cursor = 6. The Iterator thinks all the elements have been visited. So after deleting, when hasNext() is called ( remember that an enhanced for loop still means that the Iterator is used for moving around), the above condition returns false and hence the next() is not called. The last element is completely skipped and included in the output ! Since the hasNext returns false, next() is not called and the exception is not thrown. It is the call to next() which checks for concurrent modification but it is never called.

final void checkForComodification() {
     if (modCount != expectedModCount)
    throw new ConcurrentModificationException();

The Javadoc for Iterator remove method clearly states that the behavior of the iterator is unspecified if the underlying collection is modified while the iteration is in progress in any other way than by calling Iterator remove(). So the above behavior is pretty much unspecified but can catch you by surprise.


Read the Javadocs carefully!  I know you are religiously going to do that 🙂 !

If you are still using Java 7 or any version below that, don’t by pass the gate keeper, “The Iterator “, when simultaneously looping and deleting elements from an ArrayList. Use the remove() method from the Iterator.