Summary of Creating and Using Classes and Objects
Trail: Learning the Java Language
Lesson: Classes and Objects
Section: More on Classes

Summary of Creating and Using Classes and Objects

A class declaration names the class and encloses the class body between braces. The class name can be preceded by modifiers. The class body contains fields, methods, and constructors for the class. A class uses fields to contain state information and uses methods to implement behavior. Constructors that initialize a new instance of a class use the name of the class and look like methods without a return type.

You control access to classes and members in the same way: by using an access modifier such as public in their declaration.

You specify a class variable or a class method by using the static keyword in the member's declaration. A member that is not declared as static is implicitly an instance member. Class variables are shared by all instances of a class and can be accessed through the class name as well as an instance reference. Instances of a class get their own copy of each instance variable, which must be accessed through an instance reference.

You create an object from a class by using the new operator and a constructor. The new operator returns a reference to the object that was created. You can assign the reference to a variable or use it directly.

Instance variables and methods that are accessible to code outside of the class that they are declared in can be referred to by using a qualified name. The qualified name of an instance variable looks like this:


The qualified name of a method looks like this:




The garbage collector automatically cleans up unused objects. An object is unused if the program holds no more references to it. You can explicitly drop a reference by setting the variable holding the reference to null.

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