How do I convert from int to String?


I'm working on a project where all conversions from int to String are done like this:

int i = 5;
String strI = "" + i;

I'm not familiar with Java.

Is this usual practice or is something wrong, as I suppose?

4/19/2020 5:46:12 PM

Accepted Answer

Normal ways would be Integer.toString(i) or String.valueOf(i).

The concatenation will work, but it is unconventional and could be a bad smell as it suggests the author doesn't know about the two methods above (what else might they not know?).

Java has special support for the + operator when used with strings (see the documentation) which translates the code you posted into:

StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
String strI = sb.toString();

at compile-time. It's slightly less efficient (sb.append() ends up calling Integer.getChars(), which is what Integer.toString() would've done anyway), but it works.

To answer Grodriguez's comment: ** No, the compiler doesn't optimise out the empty string in this case - look:

[email protected]:~$ cat
public class TestClass {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    int i = 5;
    String strI = "" + i;
[email protected]:~$ javac && javap -c TestClass
Compiled from ""
public class TestClass extends java.lang.Object{
public TestClass();
   0:    aload_0
   1:    invokespecial    #1; //Method java/lang/Object."<init>":()V
   4:    return

public static void main(java.lang.String[]);
   0:    iconst_5
   1:    istore_1

Initialise the StringBuilder:

   2:    new    #2; //class java/lang/StringBuilder
   5:    dup
   6:    invokespecial    #3; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder."<init>":()V

Append the empty string:

   9:    ldc    #4; //String
   11:    invokevirtual    #5; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:

Append the integer:

   14:    iload_1
   15:    invokevirtual    #6; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:

Extract the final string:

   18:    invokevirtual    #7; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.toString:
   21:    astore_2
   22:    return

There's a proposal and ongoing work to change this behaviour, targetted for JDK 9.

7/3/2016 4:36:15 AM

It's acceptable, but I've never written anything like that. I'd prefer this:

String strI = Integer.toString(i);

It's not a good way.

When doing conversion from int to string, this should be used:

int i = 5;
String strI = String.valueOf(i);

It's not only the optimization1. I don't like

"" + i

because it does not express what I really want to do 2.

I don't want to append an integer to an (empty) string. I want to convert an integer to string:


Or, not my prefered, but still better than concatenation, get a string representation of an object (integer):


1. For code that is called very often, like in loops, optimization sure is also a point for not using concatenation.

2. this is not valid for use of real concatenation like in System.out.println("Index: " + i); or String id = "ID" + i;


A lot of introductory University courses seem to teach this style, for two reasons (in my experience):

  • It doesn’t require understanding of classes or methods. Usually, this is taught way before the word “class” is ever mentioned – nor even method calls. So using something like String.valueOf(…) would confuse students.

  • It is an illustration of “operator overloading” – in fact, this was sold to us as the idiomatic overloaded operator (small wonder here, since Java doesn’t allow custom operator overloading).

So it may either be born out of didactic necessity (although I’d argue that this is just bad teaching) or be used to illustrate a principle that’s otherwise quite hard to demonstrate in Java.


The expression

"" + i

leads to string conversion of i at runtime. The overall type of the expression is String. i is first converted to an Integer object (new Integer(i)), then String.valueOf(Object obj) is called. So it is equivalent to

"" + String.valueOf(new Integer(i));

Obviously, this is slightly less performant than just calling String.valueOf(new Integer(i)) which will produce the very same result.

The advantage of ""+i is that typing is easier/faster and some people might think, that it's easier to read. It is not a code smell as it does not indicate any deeper problem.

(Reference: JLS 15.8.1)


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