Guided Project 1 - Software Development Practices and Tools

Guided Task - Working with the Java Libraries

Guided Task: Working with the Java Libraries

Your skeleton of CourseRecordIO uses classes and interfaces from the package and the Java Collections Framework.

Learning Outcomes

  • Implement code using List and ArrayList.
  • Review file I/O implementation.

Best Practice: Working with Libraries

When programming complex systems, most software engineers don’t start from scratch. Instead, they take advantage of existing libraries of common functionalities when writing their programs. You work with libraries that are part of the Java Development Kit (JDK) all the time when writing programs. For example, any time you print to the console using System.out.println(), you are working with the System class’ PrintStream object named out, which has a method println() that provides the functionality for writing to standard output stream (or the console).

You will be working with two portions of the JDK when implementing CourseRecordIO: the package and the Java Collections Framework.

File Input

When reading from files, you use the Scanner class (which is actually in the java.util package because Scanner can scan other things than files). The CourseRecordIO.readCourseRecords() method will use the Scanner class to read the file. readCourseRecords() receives a parameter specifying the name of the file that will be read.

Scanner has several constructors that accept parameters specifying different resources that Scanner can parse. When working with Files, Scanner requires a parameter of type File or FileInputStream. For CourseRecordIO we will use FileInputStream so that the files are processed as bytes rather than characters. You will use the Scanner as you normally would. Passing in a String type will lead to a logic error because Scanners can also be used to parse Strings!

The Scanner(File) constructor may throw a checked FileNotFoundException if there is a problem reading the file. One way to handle is that to surround the code with a try/catch block. However, that would hide the error within the CourseRecordIO class. Instead, the CourseRecordIO.readCourseRecords() throws a FileNotFoundException out to the client. That means you do not need to check for the FileNotFoundException in CourseRecordIO.

Copy the code below into your CourseRecordIO.readCourseRecords() method. This code should replace the entire method body. Delete the TODO comment. It’s no longer needed because you are implementing the method.

You will have compiler errors under the Scanner and FileInputStream classes. Use Eclipse’s quick fix tool to import those classes (Ctrl+1 or Cmd+1).

Scanner fileReader = new Scanner(new FileInputStream(fileName));

return null;

Conceptual Knowledge: File Resources

When passed a File as a parameter, a Scanner is a wrapper for an operating system resource called a file handle. Every time you create a File Scanner, you use one of the OS’s file handles. File handles are a limited resource, so when you use a file handle, you should make sure it’s released when you’re done. This is done through the Scanner.close() method.

Reminder: Eclipse Quick Fix

If you need help using Eclipse’s Quick Fix to create a method, see Guided Task: Eclipse Quick Fix - Create CourseRecordIO Methods.

File Processing

Scanner has a set of hasNext*() methods that let you check to see if the next value is of the type that you want. Once you know that the next token is the value you want, you can use a next*() method to get the value of the given type. From the requirements for UC 1: Load Course Catalog, you know that the Course records are stored in a text file with one Course record per line. You will want to get each line from the file and then create a Course or skip that line if the record is not a valid Course.

The following code sets up the loop for processing each line. You will use a private helper method, readCourse(), to process each Course. You can use Eclipse’s Quick Fix to create the readCourse() helper method.

Scanner fileReader = new Scanner(new FileInputStream(fileName));
while (fileReader.hasNextLine()) {
    Course course = readCourse(fileReader.nextLine());
return null;

Conceptual Knowledge: private Helper Methods

When writing object-oriented code, you may find that public methods (those that a client may want to use) can quickly grow complex. When that happens, it is useful to put some of the functionality in a private method. By creating smaller methods, the code is easier to maintain. The cost of calling another method is very small compared to readable code in large systems.

File Output

You can use the PrintStream class (the same type as System.out) to write to a File by providing a File object as an actual parameter. CourseRecordIO.writeCourseRecords() writes information about each Course to the file using a PrintStream as shown below.

Like Scanner, PrintStreams should also be closed when they are done. Note that you are also using the Course.toString() method to create the comma-separated output in the same format as the input!

Copy the following code into your CourseRecordsIO.writeCourseRecords() method.

PrintStream fileWriter = new PrintStream(new File(fileName));

for (int i = 0; i < courses.size(); i++) {


Java Collections Framework

The Java Collections Framework (JCF) provides functionality for working with collections of objects. In CSC216, you will focus on the List collection type.

Conceptual Knowledge: ArrayList and Arrays

ArrayList provides List functionality using the underlying storage of an array. That means ArrayList is a class that wraps additional functionality around an array so that it is easier for clients (like us) to work with it.

Like an array, ArrayList provides functionality for adding elements, removing elements, getting elements, finding the size, and several other useful methods. The table below shows the relationship between arrays and ArrayList.

Function Array ArrayList
Constructing String [] array = new String[size] ArrayList<String> array = new ArrayList<String>()
Adding an element array[0] = "apple"; array.add(0, "apple");
Removing an element array[0] = null; array.remove("apple");
Getting an element return array[0]; return array.get(0);
Size array.length array.size()

CourseRecordIO.readCourseRecords() returns an ArrayList of Courses. That means the method should construct an empty ArrayList and add each Course to the ArrayList. You can also plan for the error handling that needs to occur when there’s an invalid Course record. If there’s a problem when constructing a Course object, an IllegalArgumentException is thrown. You can catch the exception and skip adding that line to the courses ArrayList. Additionally, you need to handle the requirement in [UC1, Processing Course Information] where a course record is invalid if the name and section is the same as another course in the list. That means only the first course in an input file with a given name, title, and section is added to the list. Others are ignored.

Copy this code into your CourseRecordsIO.readCourseRecords() method. You should overwrite the code we copied in earlier. The comment provide additional details about what is happening in the class.

public static ArrayList<Course> readCourseRecords(String fileName) throws FileNotFoundException {
    Scanner fileReader = new Scanner(new FileInputStream(fileName));  //Create a file scanner to read the file
    ArrayList<Course> courses = new ArrayList<Course>(); //Create an empty array of Course objects
    while (fileReader.hasNextLine()) { //While we have more lines in the file
        try { //Attempt to do the following
            //Read the line, process it in readCourse, and get the object
            //If trying to construct a Course in readCourse() results in an exception, flow of control will transfer to the catch block, below
            Course course = readCourse(fileReader.nextLine()); 

            //Create a flag to see if the newly created Course is a duplicate of something already in the list  
            boolean duplicate = false;
            //Look at all the courses in our list
            for (int i = 0; i < courses.size(); i++) {
                //Get the course at index i
                Course current = courses.get(i);
                //Check if the name and section are the same
                if (course.getName().equals(current.getName()) &&
                        course.getSection().equals(current.getSection())) {
                    //It's a duplicate!
                    duplicate = true;
                    break; //We can break out of the loop, no need to continue searching
            //If the course is NOT a duplicate
            if (!duplicate) {
                courses.add(course); //Add to the ArrayList!
            } //Otherwise ignore
        } catch (IllegalArgumentException e) {
            //The line is invalid b/c we couldn't create a course, skip it!
    //Close the Scanner b/c we're responsible with our file handles
    //Return the ArrayList with all the courses we read!
    return courses;

Note that in the CourseRecordIO.writeCourseRecords() code in the last section, you already used an ArrayList. for loops are an excellent tool for working with the elements of an ArrayList. Instead of using the array’s length, you get the ArrayList’s size(). You can use the get() method to get the element at index i.

Reference: Staging and Pushing to GitHub

GitHub Resources:

Check Your Progress

You’ve added functionality to CourseRecordIO, but it’s not yet complete. Before moving on to the next portion of the Guided Project, complete the following tasks:

  • Make sure that all fields, methods, and constructors are commented.
  • Resolve all static analysis notifications.
  • Commit and push your code changes with a meaningful commit message. Try writing your own commit message this push. We suggest that you label the commit with the “[Implementation]” tag to describe the type of commit. This will help future you (and the teaching staff or any future teammates) understand what you did in this commit.