Using ToStringBuilder to easily write toString() method

Another useful class in Apache’s Commons Lang library is the ToStringBuilder class. I’ve already covered the HashCodeBuilder and the EqualsBuilder classes in previous posts. The ToStringBuilder class provides you methods to easily write the toString() method in your class. The program below explains how to use it:

public class Account implements Comparable {
  private long id;
  private String firstName;
  private String lastName;
  private String emailAddress;
  private Date creationDate;

  public String toString() {
    return new ToStringBuilder(this)
        .append("firstName", this.firstName)
        .append("lastName", this.lastName)
        .append("emailAddress", this.emailAddress)
        .append("creationDate", this.creationDate)

The output is of the form Account@43d1[id=1, firstName=Parambir, lastName=Singh,, creationDate=Mon Feb 22 10:54:29 IST 2010].

First we create an object of the ToStringBuilder class (and pass the ‘this’ reference to the constructor). Then we use the append method to add each field that we want to print in the toString() method. Append method takes two arguments: fieldName and fieldValue. e.g. builder.append("name", If the value of the field “name” was “Param”, it will be printed as “name=Param”. The append method returns an instance of the ToStringBuilder, so the calls to multiple append methods can be chained (as in the example above).

Some other useful methods of the class are:

  • append(value) – No field name is printed in this case, only the value is printed.
  • append(name, value) – The field will be printed in the form “name=value”.
  • appendSuper(String s) – Appends the toString from the super class.

The class also takes care of printing arrays properly!

1 thought on “Using ToStringBuilder to easily write toString() method

  1. Pingback: Implementing equals(), hashCode(), toString() & compareTo() using reflection | Param Gyaan

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