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How do I invoke a Java method when given the method name as a string?


Question

If I have two variables:

Object obj;
String methodName = "getName";

Without knowing the class of obj, how can I call the method identified by methodName on it?

The method being called has no parameters, and a String return value. It's a getter for a Java bean.

2013/01/24
1
689
1/24/2013 8:20:50 AM

Accepted Answer

Coding from the hip, it would be something like:

java.lang.reflect.Method method;
try {
  method = obj.getClass().getMethod(methodName, param1.class, param2.class, ..);
} catch (SecurityException e) { ... }
  catch (NoSuchMethodException e) { ... }

The parameters identify the very specific method you need (if there are several overloaded available, if the method has no arguments, only give methodName).

Then you invoke that method by calling

try {
  method.invoke(obj, arg1, arg2,...);
} catch (IllegalArgumentException e) { ... }
  catch (IllegalAccessException e) { ... }
  catch (InvocationTargetException e) { ... }

Again, leave out the arguments in .invoke, if you don't have any. But yeah. Read about Java Reflection

2016/09/29
983
9/29/2016 2:13:34 PM

Use method invocation from reflection:

Class<?> c = Class.forName("class name");
Method method = c.getDeclaredMethod("method name", parameterTypes);
method.invoke(objectToInvokeOn, params);

Where:

  • "class name" is the name of the class
  • objectToInvokeOn is of type Object and is the object you want to invoke the method on
  • "method name" is the name of the method you want to call
  • parameterTypes is of type Class[] and declares the parameters the method takes
  • params is of type Object[] and declares the parameters to be passed to the method
2018/04/20

For those who want a straight-forward code example in Java 7:

Dog class:

package com.mypackage.bean;

public class Dog {
    private String name;
    private int age;

    public Dog() {
        // empty constructor
    }

    public Dog(String name, int age) {
        this.name = name;
        this.age = age;
    }

    public String getName() {
        return name;
    }

    public void setName(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    }

    public int getAge() {
        return age;
    }

    public void setAge(int age) {
        this.age = age;
    }

    public void printDog(String name, int age) {
        System.out.println(name + " is " + age + " year(s) old.");
    }
}

ReflectionDemo class:

package com.mypackage.demo;

import java.lang.reflect.*;

public class ReflectionDemo {

    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
        String dogClassName = "com.mypackage.bean.Dog";
        Class<?> dogClass = Class.forName(dogClassName); // convert string classname to class
        Object dog = dogClass.newInstance(); // invoke empty constructor

        String methodName = "";

        // with single parameter, return void
        methodName = "setName";
        Method setNameMethod = dog.getClass().getMethod(methodName, String.class);
        setNameMethod.invoke(dog, "Mishka"); // pass arg

        // without parameters, return string
        methodName = "getName";
        Method getNameMethod = dog.getClass().getMethod(methodName);
        String name = (String) getNameMethod.invoke(dog); // explicit cast

        // with multiple parameters
        methodName = "printDog";
        Class<?>[] paramTypes = {String.class, int.class};
        Method printDogMethod = dog.getClass().getMethod(methodName, paramTypes);
        printDogMethod.invoke(dog, name, 3); // pass args
    }
}

Output: Mishka is 3 year(s) old.


You can invoke the constructor with parameters this way:

Constructor<?> dogConstructor = dogClass.getConstructor(String.class, int.class);
Object dog = dogConstructor.newInstance("Hachiko", 10);

Alternatively, you can remove

String dogClassName = "com.mypackage.bean.Dog";
Class<?> dogClass = Class.forName(dogClassName);
Object dog = dogClass.newInstance();

and do

Dog dog = new Dog();

Method method = Dog.class.getMethod(methodName, ...);
method.invoke(dog, ...);

Suggested reading: Creating New Class Instances

2015/10/31

The method can be invoked like this. There are also more possibilities (check the reflection api), but this is the simplest one:

import java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException;
import java.lang.reflect.Method;

import org.junit.Assert;
import org.junit.Test;

public class ReflectionTest {

    private String methodName = "length";
    private String valueObject = "Some object";

    @Test
    public void testGetMethod() throws SecurityException, NoSuchMethodException, IllegalArgumentException,
            IllegalAccessException, InvocationTargetException {
        Method m = valueObject.getClass().getMethod(methodName, new Class[] {});
        Object ret = m.invoke(valueObject, new Object[] {});
        Assert.assertEquals(11, ret);
    }



}
2008/10/02

First, don't. Avoid this sort of code. It tends to be really bad code and insecure too (see section 6 of Secure Coding Guidelines for the Java Programming Language, version 2.0).

If you must do it, prefer java.beans to reflection. Beans wraps reflection allowing relatively safe and conventional access.


To complete my colleague's answers, You might want to pay close attention to:

  • static or instance calls (in one case, you do not need an instance of the class, in the other, you might need to rely on an existing default constructor that may or may not be there)
  • public or non-public method call (for the latter,you need to call setAccessible on the method within an doPrivileged block, other findbugs won't be happy)
  • encapsulating into one more manageable applicative exception if you want to throw back the numerous java system exceptions (hence the CCException in the code below)

Here is an old java1.4 code which takes into account those points:

/**
 * Allow for instance call, avoiding certain class circular dependencies. <br />
 * Calls even private method if java Security allows it.
 * @param aninstance instance on which method is invoked (if null, static call)
 * @param classname name of the class containing the method 
 * (can be null - ignored, actually - if instance if provided, must be provided if static call)
 * @param amethodname name of the method to invoke
 * @param parameterTypes array of Classes
 * @param parameters array of Object
 * @return resulting Object
 * @throws CCException if any problem
 */
public static Object reflectionCall(final Object aninstance, final String classname, final String amethodname, final Class[] parameterTypes, final Object[] parameters) throws CCException
{
    Object res;// = null;
    try {
        Class aclass;// = null;
        if(aninstance == null)
        {
            aclass = Class.forName(classname);
        }
        else
        {
            aclass = aninstance.getClass();
        }
        //Class[] parameterTypes = new Class[]{String[].class};
    final Method amethod = aclass.getDeclaredMethod(amethodname, parameterTypes);
        AccessController.doPrivileged(new PrivilegedAction() {
    public Object run() {
                amethod.setAccessible(true);
                return null; // nothing to return
            }
        });
        res = amethod.invoke(aninstance, parameters);
    } catch (final ClassNotFoundException e) {
        throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+CLASS, e);
    } catch (final SecurityException e) {
        throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+GenericConstants.HASH_DIESE+ amethodname + METHOD_SECURITY_ISSUE, e);
    } catch (final NoSuchMethodException e) {
        throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+GenericConstants.HASH_DIESE+ amethodname + METHOD_NOT_FOUND, e);
    } catch (final IllegalArgumentException e) {
        throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+GenericConstants.HASH_DIESE+ amethodname + METHOD_ILLEGAL_ARGUMENTS+String.valueOf(parameters)+GenericConstants.CLOSING_ROUND_BRACKET, e);
    } catch (final IllegalAccessException e) {
        throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+GenericConstants.HASH_DIESE+ amethodname + METHOD_ACCESS_RESTRICTION, e);
    } catch (final InvocationTargetException e) {
    throw new CCException.Error(PROBLEM_TO_ACCESS+classname+GenericConstants.HASH_DIESE+ amethodname + METHOD_INVOCATION_ISSUE, e);
    } 
    return res;
}
2008/10/02