Item 11 - Override clone judiciously

From Effective Java 2/e by Joshua Bloch

Object's clone() method

protected native Object clone() throws CloneNotSupportedException;

Cloneable interface

public interface Cloneable {

General contract for the clone method

Creates and returns a copy of this object. The precise meaning of “copy” may depend on the class of the object. The general intent is that, for any object x, the expression
x.clone() != x
will be true, and the expression
x.clone().getClass() == x.getClass()
will be true, but these are not absolute requirements. While it is typically the case that x.clone().equals(x)
will be true, this is not an absolute requirement. Copying an object will typically entail creating a new instance of its class, but it may require copying of internal data structures as well. No constructors are called.

  • If you override the clone method in a nonfinal class, you should return an object obtained by invoking super.clone()
    • super.clone() methods copys primitive values automatically
  • In practice, a class that implements Cloneable is expected to provide a properly functioning public clone() method.
  • clone() method functions as another constructor; you must ensure that it does no harm to the original object and that it properly establishes invariants on the clone

Example #1

public class Stack {
   private Object[] elements;
   private int size = 0;

   @Override public Stack clone() {
      try {
         Stack result = (Stack) super.clone();
         result.elements = elements.clone();
         return result;
      } catch (CloneNotSupportedException e) {
         throw new AssertionError();

Example #2

public class HashTable implements Cloneable {
   private Entry[] buckets = ...;
   private static class Entry {
   final Object key;
   Object value;
   Entry  next;

   Entry(Object key, Object value, Entry next) {
      this.key   = key;
      this.value = value;  = next;

   // Recursively copy the linked list headed by this Entry
   Entry deepCopy() {
      return new Entry(key, value, next == null ? null : next.deepCopy());

   // Iteratively copy the linked list headed by this Entry
   Entry deepCopy() {
      Entry result = new Entry(key, value, next);
      for (Entry p = result; != null; p = = new Entry(,,;
      return result;

   @Override public HashTable clone() {
      try {
         HashTable result = (HashTable) super.clone();
         result.buckets = new Entry[buckets.length];
         for (int i = 0; i < buckets.length; i++)
            if (buckets[i] != null)
               result.buckets[i] = buckets[i].deepCopy();
         return result;
      } catch (CloneNotSupportedException e) {
         throw new AssertionError();


  • All classes that implement Cloneable should override clone
  • clone() method should first call super.clone and then fix any fields that need to be fixed
  • Do not make any interface which extends cloneable
  • Do not implement cloneable for any classe designed for inheritance


  • Copy constructor

    public Yum(Yum yum);
  • Copy factory

    public static Yum newInstance(Yum yum);

Posted by The Finest Artist