Core Java

Java Holder Class

In Java, the Holder class is not part of the standard language itself. What we are referring to here is a custom class named Holder that is used to hold and encapsulate another object, often used in design patterns and various programming scenarios. Let us understand the Java Holder Class.

1. Introduction

A Holder class typically encapsulates an object and provides methods to get or set the encapsulated object. It acts as a container, allowing you to pass objects by reference rather than by value.

The Holder<T> class in Java is a versatile tool that finds applications in various scenarios where you need to encapsulate, modify, or pass objects. Here are some common use cases where the Holder class proves beneficial:

  • Callbacks and Event Handling: When implementing callback mechanisms or event handling systems, Holder<T> can be used to store and pass data between different parts of the application. For example, holding event data and passing it between event listeners.
  • Multithreading Scenarios: In multithreaded environments, when multiple threads need to access and modify shared data, Holder<T> can help in encapsulating the shared data. Proper synchronization techniques can be applied to ensure thread safety while modifying the encapsulated object.
  • Caching: When caching data retrieved from external sources (like databases or APIs), a Holder<T> object can be used to store the cached data. This allows for easy replacement or updating of the cached data without changing the reference to the Holder instance.
  • Recursive Algorithms: In recursive algorithms where a method calls itself with modified parameters, Holder<T> can be used to store intermediate results or states. This way, the method can modify the encapsulated object without having to return it explicitly.
  • Dynamic Configurations: For applications that require dynamic configuration changes during runtime, a Holder<T> object can hold the current configuration settings. By modifying the encapsulated object, the application’s behavior can be adjusted without restarting.
  • Dependency Injection: In dependency injection frameworks, Holder<T> can be used to hold objects that need to be injected into multiple components. This way, the injected objects can be easily modified without changing the reference to the Holder instance.

1.1 The Constraints of Pass-by-Value Semantics

Java is a pass-by-value language, which means that when you pass a variable to a method, you’re passing a copy of the variable’s value, not the variable itself. This concept can lead to some misunderstandings and limitations, especially for developers who are new to the language.

Here are the key limitations of pass-by-value semantics in Java:

  • Immutable Changes: When you pass primitive data types (like int, float, etc.) to a method, any changes made to the parameter inside the method do not affect the original variable outside the method.
  • Object References: When you pass an object to a method, you are passing the reference to the object, not the object itself. However, if you change the state of the object (modify its properties) inside the method, those changes are visible outside the method. But, if you assign a new object to the reference inside the method, it won’t affect the original reference outside the method.
  • Confusion with Pass-by-Reference: Java’s pass-by-value semantics can be confusing, especially for developers coming from languages that support pass-by-reference. In pass-by-reference languages, changes to parameters inside a method are reflected outside the method, which is not the case in Java.
  • Difficulty in Understanding: Understanding pass-by-value is crucial to avoiding bugs and unintended behavior in Java programs. Developers need to be aware of when they are working with a copy of a variable’s value versus the actual variable itself.

1.2 Understanding the Holder<T> Class Concept

In Java, the Holder<T> class is a powerful concept used to create a generic container that can hold any type of object. It is especially useful when you want to pass objects by reference, allowing you to modify the encapsulated object’s state without changing the reference itself.

Let’s break down the conceptualization of Holder<T> in Java:

1.2.1 Generics in Java

Generics were introduced in Java to create classes, interfaces, and methods that operate on objects of various types without sacrificing type safety. The <T> in Holder<T> represents a type parameter. It enables the Holder class to work with different types of objects without the need to create separate classes for each type.

1.2.2 The Holder Class

The Holder<T> class encapsulates an object of type T. It has two fundamental methods:

  • getValue(): T – Retrieves the encapsulated object of type T.
  • setValue(T value) – Sets the encapsulated object to the provided value of type T.

This simple design allows you to store and manipulate objects without knowing their specific types at compile time. Here’s an example of what a simple Holder class might look like:

public class Holder<T> {
    private T value;

    public Holder() {
        // Default constructor

    public Holder(T value) {
        this.value = value;

    public T getValue() {
        return value;

    public void setValue(T value) {
        this.value = value;

In this example, the Holder class uses generics (<T>) to allow it to hold objects of any type. It has two main methods: getValue() to retrieve the encapsulated object and setValue(T value) to set a new object.

Here is how to use the Holder class:

public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Holder<String> stringHolder = new Holder<>("Hello, World!");
        System.out.println("Original Value: " + stringHolder.getValue());

        stringHolder.setValue("Hello, Java!");
        System.out.println("Updated Value: " + stringHolder.getValue());

In this example, a Holder object is created to hold a String value. The value can be easily changed without changing the reference to the Holder object itself.

1.3 Pros of Using Holder<T> Class

  • Generality: The Holder<T> class allows you to work with various types of objects without creating multiple classes, promoting code reuse and simplicity.
  • Flexibility: It provides a flexible way to encapsulate and modify objects. You can easily change the encapsulated object without altering the reference to the Holder instance.
  • Passing by Reference: It emulates a pass-by-reference behavior in Java, allowing you to modify the state of an object passed to methods, unlike primitive types which are passed by value.
  • Readability: When used judiciously, Holder<T> can enhance code readability by clearly indicating the intention of the encapsulated object.

1.4 Cons of Using Holder<T> Class

  • Complexity: Overusing Holder<T> can lead to code that is hard to understand, especially for developers unfamiliar with the pattern. It might obfuscate the actual flow of data.
  • Mutability: Encapsulating objects in a Holder can lead to unexpected changes. If not handled carefully, it might introduce subtle bugs, especially in multithreaded environments.
  • Abstraction Limitation: While Holder<T> provides a generic way to work with objects, it does not handle specific behaviors associated with different types. This can limit the level of abstraction you can achieve.
  • Alternative Patterns: In many cases, using more specialized design patterns like Strategy, Factory, or Command might be a better choice. Over-relying on Holder<T> might indicate a missed opportunity for a more elegant solution.

2. Conclusion

The Holder<T> class in Java represents flexibility and adaptability. Its ability to encapsulate objects of varying types and enable modifications without changing references makes it a valuable tool in a Java developer’s arsenal. In core, the Holder<T> class in Java provides developers with the tools they need to create robust, flexible, and efficient applications. When used thoughtfully, it enhances the language’s already impressive array of features and empowers developers to build software that is both powerful and elegant.


An experience full-stack engineer well versed with Core Java, Spring/Springboot, MVC, Security, AOP, Frontend (Angular & React), and cloud technologies (such as AWS, GCP, Jenkins, Docker, K8).
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