Over a million developers have joined DZone.

Playing with Java 8 Lambdas in the JDT

DZone's Guide to

Playing with Java 8 Lambdas in the JDT

· DevOps Zone ·
Free Resource

Download the blueprint that can take a company of any maturity level all the way up to enterprise-scale continuous delivery using a combination of Automic Release Automation, Automic’s 20+ years of business automation experience, and the proven tools and practices the company is already leveraging.

I’ve been playing with the language a bit while tinkering with the Java 8 support under development by the Eclipse Java development tools (JDT) project.

I’ll admit that I’m a little underwhelmed by lambdas in Java 8. This, of course, comes from an Old Dude Who Knows Smalltalk (and LISP/Scheme).

Old Curmudgeon Dude Who Knows Smalltalk

Old  Curmudgeon  Dude Who Knows Smalltalk

Like any good Smalltalk curmudgeon, when I set about learning how to use lambdas, I naturally decided to implement the known and loved collections.

Starting from something like this:

OrderedCollection employees = new OrderedCollection();
employees.add(new Employee("Wayne", 10));
employees.add(new Employee("Joel", 9));
employees.add(new Employee("Jon", 6));
employees.add(new Employee("Anthony", 8));
employees.add(new Employee("Mary", 2));
employees.add(new Employee("Sue", 3));
employees.add(new Employee("Joanne", 7));
employees.add(new Employee("Shridar", 1));

In classic Java, you’d do something like this to find employees with more than five years of experience:

List longTerm = new ArrayList();
for(Employee employee : employees) 
	if (employee.years > 5) longTerm.add(employee);

Using lambdas, you might do something like this:

OrderedCollection longTerm = 
	employees.select(employee -> employee.years > 5);

It’s a little tighter than classic Java, and I personally find it very readable and understandable; readers with different experiences may have a different option. I believe that it is way better than the equivalent implementation with an anonymous class:

OrderedCollection longTerm = employees.select(new SelectBlock() {
	public boolean value(Employee employee) {
		return employee.years > 5;

Anonymous classes make babies cry.

Of course, babies aren’t particularly happy about the implementation of select() either:

public class OrderedCollection<T> extends ArrayList<T> {
	public OrderedCollection<T> select(SelectBlock<T> block) {
		OrderedCollection<T> select = new OrderedCollection<T>();
		for(T value : this) {
			if (block.value(value)) select.add(value);
		return select;

Lambdas are syntactic sugar for anonymous classes, and do arguably make some code easier to read. For my rather simplistic example, the benefit over the direct use of a for-loop is marginal from a readability point-of-view, but it’s far easier to understand than the anonymous class example. From a performance point-of-view, I expect that using lambdas or anonymous classes in this context would be something like an order of magnitude worse than just using a for-loop.

One of the cooler things that we do in Smalltalk is create our own control structures. Instead of creating a whole new collection, you could create custom iterators, e.g.:

payroll.longTermEmployeesDo(employee -> payroll.giveEmployeeARaise(employee));

Or something like that. I’m not sure if this makes it better or not.

Simple collections might not be the best use of lambdas. Lambdas are not quite as useful (or, I believe, as efficient) as blocks in Smalltalk. I’ll need to spend a little more time tinkering with examples where the use of anonymous classes is more natural in Java (Runnables and listeners seem like an obvious place to start).

Unfortunately, I think that trying to implement Smalltalk-like collections using lambdas in Java 8 will also make babies cry.

As a parting shot… try to wrap your brain around this:

double average = (double)employees.inject(0, 
	(sum, employee) -> sum + employee.years) / employees.size();

Totally readable. Totally.

Download the ‘Practical Blueprint to Continuous Delivery’ to learn how Automic Release Automation can help you begin or continue your company’s digital transformation.


Published at DZone with permission of

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}