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Exception Handling In Java

An exception (or exceptional event) is a problem that arises during the execution of a program. When an Exception occurs the normal flow of the program is disrupted and the program/Application terminates abnormally, which is not recommended, therefore these exceptions are to be handled.

Exception can occur at runtime (known as runtime exceptions) as well as at compile-time (known Compile-time exceptions).

An exception can occur for many different reasons, below given are some scenarios where exception occurs.

  • A user has entered invalid data.
  • A file that needs to be opened cannot be found.
  • A network connection has been lost in the middle of communications or the JVM has run out of memory.

Difference between error and exception

Errors indicate serious problems and abnormal conditions that most applications should not try to handle. Error defines problems that are not expected to be caught under normal circumstances by our program. For example memory error, hardware error, JVM error etc.
Exceptions are conditions within the code. A developer can handle such conditions and take necessary corrective actions. Few examples –

  • DivideByZero exception
  • NullPointerException
  • ArithmeticException
  • ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException

Advantage of Exception Handling

The core advantage of exception handling is to maintain the normal flow of the application. Exception normally disrupts the normal flow of the application that is why we use exception handling.

Types of Exception

There are mainly two types of exceptions: checked and unchecked where error is considered as unchecked exception. The sun microsystem says there are three types of exceptions:

  1. Checked Exception
  2. Unchecked Exception
  3. Error

Checked exceptions: A checked exception is an exception that occurs at the compile time, these are also called as compile time exceptions. These exceptions cannot simply be ignored at the time of compilation, the Programmer should take care of (handle) these exceptions.

For example, if you use FileReader class in your program to read data from a file, if the file specified in its constructor doesn’t exist, then an FileNotFoundException occurs, and compiler prompts the programmer to handle the exception.

Unchecked exceptions: An Unchecked exception is an exception that occurs at the time of execution, these are also called as Runtime Exceptions, these include programming bugs, such as logic errors or improper use of an API. runtime exceptions are ignored at the time of compilation.

For example, if you have declared an array of size 5 in your program, and trying to call the 6th element of the array then an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsExceptionexception occurs.

Errors: These are not exceptions at all, but problems that arise beyond the control of the user or the programmer. Errors are typically ignored in your code because you can rarely do anything about an error. For example, if a stack overflow occurs, an error will arise. They are also ignored at the time of compilation.

Exception Hierarchy:

All exception classes are subtypes of the java.lang.Exception class. The exception class is a subclass of the Throwable class. Other than the exception class there is another subclass called Error which is derived from the Throwable class.


Java Exception Handling Keywords

There are 5 keywords used in java exception handling.

  1. try
  2. catch
  3. finally
  4. throw
  5. throws

Exception handling in Java

Catching Exceptions:
A method catches an exception using a combination of the try and catch keywords. A try/catch block is placed around the code that might generate an exception. Code within a try/catch block is referred to as protected code, and the syntax for using try/catch looks like the following:

The code which is prone to exceptions is placed in the try block, when an exception occurs, that exception occurred is handled by catch block associated with it. Every try block should be immediately followed either by a catch block or finally block.

A catch statement involves declaring the type of exception you are trying to catch. If an exception occurs in protected code, the catch block (or blocks) that follows the try is checked. If the type of exception that occurred is listed in a catch block, the exception is passed to the catch block much as an argument is passed into a method parameter.

The following is an array is declared with 2 elements. Then the code tries to access the 3rd element of the array which throws an exception.

// File Name :

This would produce the following result:

Exception thrown :java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: 3
Out of the block

Multiple catch Blocks:

A try block can be followed by multiple catch blocks. The syntax for multiple catch blocks looks like the following:

The previous statements demonstrate three catch blocks, but you can have any number of them after a single try. If an exception occurs in the protected code, the exception is thrown to the first catch block in the list. If the data type of the exception thrown matches ExceptionType1, it gets caught there. If not, the exception passes down to the second catch statement. This continues until the exception either is caught or falls through all catches, in which case the current method stops execution and the exception is thrown down to the previous method on the call stack.

Here is code segment showing how to use multiple try/catch statements.

Catching multiple type of exceptions

Since Java 7 you can handle more than one exceptions using a single catch block, this feature simplifies the code. Below given is the syntax of writing

The throws/throw Keywords:

If a method does not handle a checked exception, the method must declare it using the throws keyword. The throws keyword appears at the end of a method’s signature.
You can throw an exception, either a newly instantiated one or an exception that you just caught, by using the throw keyword.

Try to understand the difference between throws and throw keywords, throws is used to postpone the handling of a checked exception and throw is used to invoke an exception explicitly.
The following method declares that it throws a RemoteException:

A method can declare that it throws more than one exception, in which case the exceptions are declared in a list separated by commas. For example, the following method declares that it throws a RemoteException and an InsufficientFundsException:

The finally block

The finally block follows a try block or a catch block. A finally block of code always executes, irrespective of occurrence of an Exception.
Using a finally block allows you to run any cleanup-type statements that you want to execute, no matter what happens in the protected code.

A finally block appears at the end of the catch blocks and has the following syntax:


This would produce the following result:

Exception thrown :java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: 3

First element value: 6
The finally statement is executed

Note the following:

  • A catch clause cannot exist without a try statement.
  • It is not compulsory to have finally clauses when ever a try/catch block is present.
  • The try block cannot be present without either catch clause or finally clause.
  • Any code cannot be present in between the try, catch, finally blocks.

The try-with-resources

Generally when we use any resources like streams, connections etc.. we have to close them explicitly using finally block. In the program given below we are reading data from a file using FileReader and we are closing it using finally block.


try-with-resources, also referred as automatic resource management. is a new exception handling mechanism that was introduced in Java7, which automatically closes the resources used within the try catch block.

To use this statement you simply need to declare the required resources within the parenthesis, the created resource will be closed automatically at the end of the block, below given is the syntax of try-with-resources statement.

Below given is the program that reads the data in a file using try-with-resources statement.

Following points are to be kept in mind while working with try-with resources statement.

  • To use a class with try-with-resources statement it should implement AutoCloseable interface and the close() method of it gets invoked automatically at runtime.
  • You can declare more than one class in try-with-resources statement.
  • while you declare multiple classes in the try block of try-with-resources statement these classes are closed in reverse order.
  • Except the deceleration of resources within the parenthesis every thing is same as normal try/catch block of a try block.
  • The resource declared in try gets instantiated just before the start of the try-block.
  • The resource declared at the try block is implicitly declared as final.

User-defined Exceptions:

You can create your own exceptions in Java. Keep the following points in mind when writing your own exception classes:

  • All exceptions must be a child of Throwable.
  • If you want to write a checked exception that is automatically enforced by the Handle or Declare Rule, you need to extend the Exception class.
  • If you want to write a runtime exception, you need to extend the RuntimeException class.
  • We can define our own Exception class as below:

class MyException extends Exception{
You just need to extend the predefined Exception class to create your own Exception. These are considered to be checked exceptions. The following InsufficientFundsException class is a user-defined exception that extends the Exception class, making it a checked exception. An exception class is like any other class, containing useful fields and methods.

// File Name

To demonstrate using our user-defined exception, the following CheckingAccount class contains a withdraw() method that throws an InsufficientFundsException.

// File Name

The following BankDemo program demonstrates invoking the deposit() and withdraw() methods of CheckingAccount.

// File Name

Compile all the above three files and run BankDemo, this would produce the following result:

Depositing $500…

Withdrawing $100…

Withdrawing $600…
Sorry, but you are short $200.0
at CheckingAccount.withdraw(
at BankDemo.main(

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