Core Java

New Features in Java 8

Java 8, released in 2014, revolutionized the programming landscape with its powerful features and functional programming capabilities. A major milestone for the Java platform, it introduced lambda expressions, enabling concise and expressive code. The Stream API facilitated the seamless manipulation of data, promoting parallel processing for enhanced performance. Additionally, Java 8 introduced the java.time package, addressing shortcomings in date and time handling. With these advancements, developers gained a more efficient and flexible toolset for building scalable and modern applications. Java 8’s impact extends beyond its initial release, shaping the way developers approach software design and development in the ever-evolving programming ecosystem. Let us delve to understand the Java 8 new features.

1. Features of Java 8

  • Lambda Expressions: Introduces concise syntax for writing anonymous functions, enhancing code readability, and promoting functional programming practices.
  • Stream API: Enables efficient processing of collections by introducing functional-style operations, supporting parallelism for enhanced performance and simplified data manipulation.
  • java.time Package: Addresses date and time handling issues with a comprehensive and immutable API, resolving previous challenges and providing a modern approach to date manipulation.
  • Default Methods: Allows interfaces to have methods with a default implementation, facilitating backward compatibility and reducing the need for boilerplate code when evolving interfaces.
  • Nashorn JavaScript Engine: Replaces the old Rhino JavaScript engine, providing a more modern and efficient way to run JavaScript code within Java applications.

1.1 Advantages of Java 8

  • Improved Readability: Lambda expressions and functional programming constructs lead to more expressive and concise code, enhancing the overall readability of Java programs.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Stream API simplifies data processing, reducing boilerplate code and making developers more productive by allowing them to focus on the logic rather than the mechanics of iteration.
  • Modern Date and Time Handling: The java.time package addresses issues with the previous Date and Calendar classes, providing a robust and comprehensive API for handling date and time, improving code correctness and maintainability.
  • Backward Compatibility: Default methods in interfaces enable the addition of new methods to interfaces without breaking existing implementations, ensuring backward compatibility in evolving codebases.
  • Efficient JavaScript Integration: The Nashorn JavaScript engine allows seamless integration of JavaScript code into Java applications, fostering interoperability between the two languages.

2. Interface Default and Static Methods

Java 8 brought about significant enhancements to interfaces with the introduction of default methods and static methods. These features were designed to improve the flexibility and extensibility of interfaces without breaking existing implementations. Below, we explore the concepts and use cases of default and static methods in Java interfaces.

2.1 Default Methods

Default methods allow interfaces to have method implementations. These methods are marked with the default keyword and provide a default behavior that can be overridden by implementing classes.

  • Backward Compatibility: Existing interfaces can be extended with default methods without breaking classes that implement the interface. This allows for the addition of new methods to interfaces without requiring modifications in implementing classes.
  • API Evolution: Libraries and frameworks can evolve by adding new methods to interfaces without impacting the existing codebase. This is especially useful for maintaining compatibility in large codebases.

2.1.1 Example

interface Vehicle {
  void start();

  default void honk() {
    System.out.println("Honking the horn");

class Car implements Vehicle {
  public void start() {
    System.out.println("Car starting");

class Bike implements Vehicle {
  public void start() {
    System.out.println("Bike starting");

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    Car car = new Car();
    car.honk(); // Uses the default implementation

    Bike bike = new Bike();
    bike.honk(); // Uses the default implementation

This code snippet illustrates the use of default methods in Java interfaces, specifically in the context of a Vehicle interface. The Vehicle interface declares a mandatory method, start(), that any implementing class must provide. Additionally, it includes a default method, honk(), with a predefined behavior—printing “Honking the horn” to the console. Two classes, Car and Bike, implement the Vehicle interface by providing their specific implementations for the start() method. The Main class serves as the entry point, creating instances of both Car and Bike and demonstrating polymorphism by invoking their start() methods. Furthermore, the code showcases the use of the default honk() method from the Vehicle interface, emphasizing its ability to supply a common behavior to implementing classes. Overall, this example highlights how default methods enhance interface flexibility, enabling the addition of new methods without disrupting existing code.

2.2 Static Methods

Static methods in interfaces are methods marked with the static keyword. These methods are associated with the interface itself rather than any instance of the interface.

  • Utility Methods: Static methods in interfaces allow the inclusion of utility methods directly related to the interface. These methods can be invoked using the interface name.
  • Grouping Related Functionality: Static methods can be used to group related functionality that doesn’t depend on instance-specific data.

2.2.1 Example

interface MathOperations {
  static int add(int a, int b) {
    return a + b;

  static int subtract(int a, int b) {
    return a - b;

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    int resultAdd = MathOperations.add(5, 3); // Using static method
    int resultSubtract = MathOperations.subtract(8, 3); // Using static method

    System.out.println("Addition result: " + resultAdd);
    System.out.println("Subtraction result: " + resultSubtract);

This code snippet demonstrates the use of static methods in a Java interface, specifically within the MathOperations interface. The interface defines two static methods, add and subtract, each performing a basic arithmetic operation. These methods are associated with the interface itself and can be invoked directly using the interface name, as shown in the Main class. The main method creates instances of the Main class, showcasing how to call the static methods for addition and subtraction. The results are then printed to the console. This example highlights how static methods in interfaces provide a convenient way to include utility functions related to the interface, promoting code organization and ease of use for developers.

3. Method References

Method references in Java 8 provide a shorthand notation to refer to methods or constructors using the double colon (::) operator. They make the code more concise and readable, especially when working with functional interfaces or lambda expressions. There are four types of method references in Java:

3.1 Reference to a static method

// Lambda expression
Function<String, Integer> parseInt = s -> Integer.parseInt(s);

// Method reference
Function<String, Integer> parseIntRef = Integer::parseInt;

Here, Integer::parseInt is a method reference to the static method parseInt of the Integer class. The lambda expression s -> Integer.parseInt(s) is equivalent to the method reference Integer::parseInt. This is commonly used when a lambda expression simply calls a static method.

3.2 Reference to an instance method of a particular object

// Lambda expression
BiPredicate<String, String> startsWith = (s1, s2) -> s1.startsWith(s2);

// Method reference
BiPredicate<String, String> startsWithRef = String::startsWith;

In this case, String::startsWith is a method reference to the startsWith method of a specific instance of the String class. The lambda expression (s1, s2) -> s1.startsWith(s2) is equivalent to the method reference String::startsWith. This is useful when a lambda expression calls a method on one of its parameters.

3.3 Reference to an instance method of an arbitrary object of a particular type

// Lambda expression
BiFunction<String, String, Boolean> equalsIgnoreCase = (s1, s2) -> s1.equalsIgnoreCase(s2);

// Method reference
BiFunction<String, String, Boolean> equalsIgnoreCaseRef = String::equalsIgnoreCase;

Here, String::equalsIgnoreCase is a method reference to the equalsIgnoreCase method of any instance of the String class. The lambda expression (s1, s2) -> s1.equalsIgnoreCase(s2) is equivalent to the method reference String::equalsIgnoreCase. This is commonly used when a lambda expression takes two parameters of the same type and calls a method on one of them.

3.4 Reference to a constructor

// Lambda expression
Function<String, StringBuilder> stringBuilderConstructor = s -> new StringBuilder(s);

// Method reference
Function<String, StringBuilder> stringBuilderConstructorRef = StringBuilder::new;

In this example, StringBuilder::new is a method reference to the constructor of the StringBuilder class that takes a single String parameter. The lambda expression s -> new StringBuilder(s) is equivalent to the method reference StringBuilder::new. This is commonly used when a lambda expression is essentially creating a new instance of a class.

Method references are particularly useful when working with functional interfaces, such as those used in the context of streams, lambda expressions, or other places where single abstract method interfaces (SAM interfaces) are used.

4. Optional<T>

Optional<T> is a class introduced in Java 8 as part of the java.util package. It is designed to address the problem of dealing with potentially null values and to avoid null pointer exceptions. Optional is a container object that may or may not contain a non-null value.

You can create an Optional instance using its static factory methods:

Optional<String> optionalString = Optional.of("Hello, World!"); // Non-null value
Optional<String> emptyOptional = Optional.empty(); // Empty Optional

The of method is used when you are sure that the value you are wrapping is non-null. If there’s a chance that the value might be null, you can use Optional.empty() or Optional.ofNullable(value).

Along with this, there are some additional methods in Java 8 Optional:

  • get(): Retrieves the value if present, otherwise throws NoSuchElementException.
  • orElse(T other): Returns the value if present, otherwise returns the specified default value.
  • orElseGet(Supplier<? extends T> other): Returns the value if present, otherwise returns the result of the given Supplier.
  • orElseThrow(Supplier<? extends X> exceptionSupplier): Returns the value if present, otherwise throws an exception produced by the provided Supplier.
  • ifPresent(Consumer<? super T> consumer): Performs the given action if a value is present.
  • ifPresentOrElse(Consumer<? super T> action, Runnable emptyAction): Performs the given action if a value is present, otherwise performs the given empty-based action.
  • filter(Predicate<? super T> predicate): If a value is present and the value matches the given predicate, returns an Optional describing the value, otherwise returns an empty Optional.
  • map(Function<? super T, ? extends U> mapper): If a value is present, apply the given mapping function to it, and if the result is non-null, returns an Optional describing the result.
  • flatMap(Function<? super T, ? extends Optional<? extends U>> mapper): If a value is present, apply the given flat-mapping function to it, and if the result is non-null, returns the result.

3.1 Difference between Optional.of() and Optional.ofNullable()

MethodDescriptionBehavior on Null
Optional.of(T value)Creates an Optional with a non-null value.Throws NullPointerException if the provided value is null.
Optional.ofNullable(T value)Creates an Optional with a value that can be null.If the provided value is null, it returns an Optional with no value (empty).

5. Conclusion

In summary, Java’s evolution has been marked by the introduction of features that enhance its expressiveness and flexibility. Interface Default and Static Methods provide a powerful mechanism for adding methods to interfaces, promoting code reuse and modularity. Method References contribute to code readability by offering a concise syntax for invoking methods, aligning with functional programming principles. The Optional<T> class addresses null-related challenges, encouraging explicit handling of potential null values and reducing the risk of null pointer exceptions. Together, these features empower developers to write cleaner, more maintainable code, fostering the development of robust and scalable Java applications.


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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