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Chapter 7. Methods > Item 39: Make defensive copies when needed

Item 39: Make defensive copies when needed

One thing that makes Java such a pleasure to use is that it is a safe language. This means that in the absence of native methods it is immune to buffer overruns, array overruns, wild pointers, and other memory corruption errors that plague unsafe languages such as C and C++. In a safe language, it is possible to write classes and to know with certainty that their invariants will remain true, no matter what happens in any other part of the system. This is not possible in languages that treat all of memory as one giant array.

Even in a safe language, you aren’t insulated from other classes without some effort on your part. You must program defensively, with the assumption that clients of your class will do their best to destroy its invariants. This may actually be true if someone tries to break the security of your system, but more likely your class will have to cope with unexpected behavior resulting from honest mistakes on the part of programmers using your API. Either way, it is worth taking the time to write classes that are robust in the face of ill-behaved clients.


  

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