How to directly initialize a HashMap (in a literal way)?


Is there some way of initializing a Java HashMap like this?:

Map<String,String> test = 
    new HashMap<String, String>{"test":"test","test":"test"};

What would be the correct syntax? I have not found anything regarding this. Is this possible? I am looking for the shortest/fastest way to put some "final/static" values in a map that never change and are known in advance when creating the Map.

4/2/2018 6:51:13 PM

Accepted Answer

All Versions

In case you happen to need just a single entry: There is Collections.singletonMap("key", "value").

For Java Version 9 or higher:

Yes, this is possible now. In Java 9 a couple of factory methods have been added that simplify the creation of maps :

// this works for up to 10 elements:
Map<String, String> test1 = Map.of(
    "a", "b",
    "c", "d"

// this works for any number of elements:
import static java.util.Map.entry;    
Map<String, String> test2 = Map.ofEntries(
    entry("a", "b"),
    entry("c", "d")

In the example above both test and test2 will be the same, just with different ways of expressing the Map. The Map.of method is defined for up to ten elements in the map, while the Map.ofEntries method will have no such limit.

Note that in this case the resulting map will be an immutable map. If you want the map to be mutable, you could copy it again, e.g. using mutableMap = new HashMap<>(Map.of("a", "b"));

(See also JEP 269 and the Javadoc)

For up to Java Version 8:

No, you will have to add all the elements manually. You can use an initializer in an anonymous subclass to make the syntax a little bit shorter:

Map<String, String> myMap = new HashMap<String, String>() {{
        put("a", "b");
        put("c", "d");

However, the anonymous subclass might introduce unwanted behavior in some cases. This includes for example:

  • It generates an additional class which increases memory consumption, disk space consumption and startup-time
  • In case of a non-static method: It holds a reference to the object the creating method was called upon. That means the object of the outer class cannot be garbage collected while the created map object is still referenced, thus blocking additional memory

Using a function for initialization will also enable you to generate a map in an initializer, but avoids nasty side-effects:

Map<String, String> myMap = createMap();

private static Map<String, String> createMap() {
    Map<String,String> myMap = new HashMap<String,String>();
    myMap.put("a", "b");
    myMap.put("c", "d");
    return myMap;
2/21/2020 6:45:42 PM

If you allow 3rd party libs, you can use Guava's ImmutableMap to achieve literal-like brevity:

Map<String, String> test = ImmutableMap.of("k1", "v1", "k2", "v2");

This works for up to 5 key/value pairs, otherwise you can use its builder:

Map<String, String> test = ImmutableMap.<String, String>builder()
    .put("k1", "v1")
    .put("k2", "v2")

  • note that Guava's ImmutableMap implementation differs from Java's HashMap implementation (most notably it is immutable and does not permit null keys/values)
  • for more info, see Guava's user guide article on its immutable collection types

There is no direct way to do this - Java has no Map literals (yet - I think they were proposed for Java 8).

Some people like this:

Map<String,String> test = new HashMap<String, String>(){{
       put("test","test"); put("test","test");}};

This creates an anonymous subclass of HashMap, whose instance initializer puts these values. (By the way, a map can't contain twice the same value, your second put will overwrite the first one. I'll use different values for the next examples.)

The normal way would be this (for a local variable):

Map<String,String> test = new HashMap<String, String>();

If your test map is an instance variable, put the initialization in a constructor or instance initializer:

Map<String,String> test = new HashMap<String, String>();

If your test map is a class variable, put the initialization in a static initializer:

static Map<String,String> test = new HashMap<String, String>();
static {

If you want your map to never change, you should after the initialization wrap your map by Collections.unmodifiableMap(...). You can do this in a static initializer too:

static Map<String,String> test;
    Map<String,String> temp = new HashMap<String, String>();
    test = Collections.unmodifiableMap(temp);

(I'm not sure if you can now make test final ... try it out and report here.)


Map<String,String> test = new HashMap<String, String>()
        put(key1, value1);
        put(key2, value2);

An alternative, using plain Java 7 classes and varargs: create a class HashMapBuilder with this method:

public static HashMap<String, String> build(String... data){
    HashMap<String, String> result = new HashMap<String, String>();

    if(data.length % 2 != 0) 
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("Odd number of arguments");      

    String key = null;
    Integer step = -1;

    for(String value : data){
        switch(step % 2){
        case 0: 
            if(value == null)
                throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null key value"); 
            key = value;
        case 1:             
            result.put(key, value);

    return result;

Use the method like this:

HashMap<String,String> data ="key1","value1","key2","value2");


Use Map.of… methods in Java 9 and later.

Map< String , String > animalSounds =
        "dog"  , "bark" ,   // key , value
        "cat"  , "meow" ,   // key , value
        "bird" , "chirp"    // key , value


Java 9 added a series of Map.of static methods to do just what you want: Instantiate an immutable Map using literal syntax.

The map (a collection of entries) is immutable, so you cannot add or remove entries after instantiating. Also, the key and the value of each entry is immutable, cannot be changed. See the Javadoc for other rules, such as no NULLs allowed, no duplicate keys allowed, and the iteration order of mappings is arbitrary.

Let's look at these methods, using some sample data for a map of day-of-week to a person who we expect will work on that day.

Person alice = new Person( "Alice" );
Person bob = new Person( "Bob" );
Person carol = new Person( "Carol" );


Map.of creates an empty Map. Unmodifiable, so you cannot add entries. Here is an example of such a map, empty with no entries.

Map < DayOfWeek, Person > dailyWorkerEmpty = Map.of();

dailyWorkerEmpty.toString(): {}

Map.of( … )

Map.of( k , v , k , v , …) are several methods that take 1 to 10 key-value pairs. Here is an example of two entries.

Map < DayOfWeek, Person > weekendWorker = 
            DayOfWeek.SATURDAY , alice ,     // key , value
            DayOfWeek.SUNDAY , bob           // key , value

weekendWorker.toString(): {SUNDAY=Person{ name='Bob' }, SATURDAY=Person{ name='Alice' }}

Map.ofEntries( … )

Map.ofEntries( Map.Entry , … ) takes any number of objects implementing the Map.Entry interface. Java bundles two classes implementing that interface, one mutable, the other immutable: AbstractMap.SimpleEntry, AbstractMap.SimpleImmutableEntry. But we need not specify a concrete class. We merely need to call Map.entry( k , v ) method, pass our key and our value, and we get back an object of a some class implementing Map.Entry interface.

Map < DayOfWeek, Person > weekdayWorker = Map.ofEntries(
        Map.entry( DayOfWeek.MONDAY , alice ) ,            // Call to `Map.entry` method returns an object implementing `Map.Entry`. 
        Map.entry( DayOfWeek.TUESDAY , bob ) ,
        Map.entry( DayOfWeek.WEDNESDAY , bob ) ,
        Map.entry( DayOfWeek.THURSDAY , carol ) ,
        Map.entry( DayOfWeek.FRIDAY , carol )

weekdayWorker.toString(): {WEDNESDAY=Person{ name='Bob' }, TUESDAY=Person{ name='Bob' }, THURSDAY=Person{ name='Carol' }, FRIDAY=Person{ name='Carol' }, MONDAY=Person{ name='Alice' }}


Java 10 added the method Map.copyOf. Pass an existing map, get back an immutable copy of that map.


Notice that the iterator order of maps produced via Map.of are not guaranteed. The entries have an arbitrary order. Do not write code based on the order seen, as the documentation warns the order is subject to change.

Note that all of these Map.of… methods return a Map of an unspecified class. The underlying concrete class may even vary from one version of Java to another. This anonymity enables Java to choose from various implementations, whatever optimally fits your particular data. For example, if your keys come from an enum, Java might use an EnumMap under the covers.


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