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Q: Why does my Properties object ignore the defaults when I do a get?

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Q: Why does my Properties object ignore the defaults when I do a get?

Answer: You shouldn't do a get on a Properties object; you should do a getProperty instead. Many people assume that the only difference is that getProperty has a declared return type of String, while get is declared to return an Object. But actually there is a bigger difference: getProperty looks at the defaults. get is inherited from Hashtable, and it ignores the default, thereby doing exactly what is documented in the Hashtable class, but probably not what you expect. Other methods that are inherited from Hashtable (like isEmpty and toString) will also ignore defaults. Example code:

Properties defaults = new Properties();
defaults.put("color", "black");

Properties props = new Properties(defaults);

System.out.println(props.get("color") + ", " + 
// This prints "null, black"

Is this justified by the documentation? Maybe. The documentation in Hashtable talks about entries in the table, and the behavior of Properties is consistent if you assume that defauls are not entries in the table. If for some reason you thought defaults were entries (as you might be led to believe by the behavior of getProperty) then you will be confused.

This tip is reprinted on JavaFAQ.nu by by courtesy of Peter Norvig I am thankful for his important contributions to my site - 21 Infrequently Answered Java Questions. Alexandre Patchine

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