Contracts for Java
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README.md

The C4J Contracts Framework for Java is, since version 4.0, using inheritance to provide classes and interfaces with contracts.

So let's start with some easy code-examples:

Let's assume having a class CashTerminal that has to satisfy the contract CashTerminalContract:

@ContractReference(CashTerminalContract.class)
public class CashTerminal {
  public void withdraw(int amount) {
    // withdraw money from customer's bank account
  }
}

Our contract CashTerminalContract could ensure that only a positive amount of money can be withdrawn from a CashTerminal:

import static de.vksi.c4j.Condition.*;

public class CashTerminalContract extends CashTerminal {
  @Override
  public void withdraw(int amount) {
    if (preCondition()) {
      assert amount > 0;
    }
  }
}

Let's look at this code example in more detail, step by step.

Declaring Contracts

A Contract is declared by using the @ContractReference annotation on the Target class or interface, providing the class defining the contract:

@ContractReference(CashTerminalContract.class)
public class CashTerminal {
  // target class body
}
@ContractReference(InterfaceContract.class)
public interface Interface {
  // interface declarations
}

A contract must be satisfied not only by the type for which it is declared, but also by all classes that are extending or implementing this type.

Inheritance rules for C4J Contracts

Defining Contracts

A contract is defined in a Contract Class. This class can extend the Target Class (or implement the Target Interface) for convenience and to allow easy refactoring in modern Java IDEs, but doesn't have to (for final classes, see chapter below).

public class CashTerminalContract extends CashTerminal {
  // contract class body
}
public class InterfaceContract implements Interface {
  // contract class body for an interface
}

Within the contract class, the methods of the target class can be "overridden", and Pre-Conditions and Post-Conditions can be defined for specific methods. Also, Class-Invariants can be defined.

Defining Pre- and Post-Conditions

Pre- and Post-Conditions for a method can be defined within the contract class as follows:

@ContractReference(CashTerminalContract.class)
public class CashTerminal {
  public void withdraw(int amount) {
    // impl
  }
  public int getBalance() {
    // impl
  }
}
import static de.vksi.c4j.Condition.*;

public class CashTerminalContract extends CashTerminal {
  @Target
  private CashTerminal target;

  @Override
  public void withdraw(int amount) {
    if (preCondition()) {
      assert amount > 0;
    }
    if (postCondition()) {
      assert target.getBalance() == old(target.getBalance()) - amount;
    }
  }
}

The Pre-Condition of withdraw(int) requires, that the parameter amount is greater than 0. The Post-Condition ensures, that the balance (after execution of method withdraw(int)) is equal to the old balance (before execution) substracted by the parameter amount.

Each instance of a target class being protected by a contract has its corresponding instance of the contract class. In order to access the target instance from within the contract, a field having the type of the target class can be annotated with the @Target annotation.

old

old, as seen in the example above, can be used to access the value of an expression before the execution of the method in question. There can be no usage of local variables inside the parameter being passed to old.

  @Override
  public void withdraw(int amount) {
    if (postCondition()) {
      assert target.getBalance() == old(target.getBalance()) - amount; // works
      assert target.getBalance() == old(target.getBalance() - amount); // works
      assert target.getBalance() == old(arbitraryObject.arbitraryMethod("123", 456, new BigDecimal("0.01")).getAmount() + SomeClass.staticMethodCall()); // works
      int localVar = 3;
      assert target.getBalance() == old(target.getBalance() - localVar); // doesn't work as a local variable is used within old()
    }
  }

Class-Invariants

Sometimes, a set of conditions can be defined for a class, that always must be satisfied. These conditions can then be defined in a so-called Class-Invariant.

@ContractReference(CashTerminalContract.class)
public class CashTerminal {
  public int getBalance() {
    // impl
  }
}
public class CashTerminalContract extends CashTerminal {
  @Target
  private CashTerminal target;

  @ClassInvariant
  public void invariant() {
    assert target.getBalance() >= 0;
  }
}

The class-invariant is introduced by defining a non-overridden method in the contract class, which is annotated by @ClassInvariant. The class-invariant will be run after the execution of any non-private method or constructor, enforcing the conditions defined in the class-invariant.

Final Classes and Methods

Defining contracts for final classes and methods can be tricky, as the contract class cannot extend a final target class or override a final method an thus, no refactoring-support is available.

@ContractReference(FinalClassContract.class)
public final class FinalClass {
  public final void finalMethod() {
    // impl
  }
}
public class FinalClassContract {
  public void finalMethod() {
    // contract impl
  }
}

In this example, renaming finalMethod() in FinalClass would not rename finalMethod() in FinalClassContract and a warning would be issued on class-loading.

There is one way to avoid the refactoring-trouble: By introducing an interface. Assuming that target and contract class are located within the same package, the interface can even be made package-private and thus can be located within the same source-file as the final class. This avoids confusion and hides the synthetic interface from clients. The contract declaration thus moves from the final class to the interface.

@ContractReference(FinalClassInterfaceContract.class)
interface FinalClassInterface {
  void finalMethod();
}

public final class FinalClass implements FinalClassInterface {
  public final void finalMethod() {
    // impl
  }
}
public class FinalClassInterfaceContract implements FinalClassInterface {
  @Override
  public void finalMethod() {
    // contract impl
  }
}

The concept of Pure Methods.

The following will only work with a custom Configuration which includes PureBehavior.VALIDATE_PURE (details below). This functionality is experimental and has not yet been fully tested.

Setting up a custom Configuration

  • Implement a class implementing Configuration or extending DefaultConfiguration, declaring at least one package in getRootPackages() and adding PureBehavior.VALIDATE_PURE to getPureBehaviors().
  • Add the fully qualified class name of your Configuration as a javaagent-Parameter in the VM Arguments, e.g. -ea -javaagent:/path/to/c4j-[version].jar=package.with.the.CustomConfiguration.

Method purity

There's a very good introduction to method purity for Microsoft's Code Contracts on this blog. In C4J 4.0, all contract methods are implicitly declared pure. If you want to declare methods pure in target classes, you can either use the @Pure annotation on the method directly, or use the @PureTarget annotation on the corresponding contract method (especially handy when using external contracts). When referencing methods outside the root packages, a warning is issued, asking you to declare the method either pure or unpure using Configuration.getPureRegistry().

unchanged

This feature can only be used when PureBehavior.VALIDATE_PURE is turned on, as it's relying on the same implementation as pure methods.

As methods should often only modify a particular set of attributes of a class, many post-conditions ensure that the other attributes stay unchanged.

@ContractReference(TimeOfDayContract.class)
public interface TimeOfDay {
  int getHour();
  int getMinute();
  int getSecond();
  void setHour(int hour);
  void setMinute(int minute);
  void setSecond(int second);
}
import static de.vksi.c4j.Condition.*;

public class TimeOfDayContract implements TimeOfDay {
  @Target
  private TimeOfDay target;

  @Override
  public void setHour(final int hour) {
    if (postCondition()) {
      unchanged(target.getMinute(), target.getSecond());
    }
  }
  // etc.
}

For primitive types, unchanged checks if the value at the end of the method call is the same as in the beginning of the method call. For reference types, it ensures that the object's state is not being modified while the method is running.

In addition to fields and methods without parameters, method parameters can also be used with unchanged. As parameters act as local variables, a redefinition is not being checked and thus unchanged does not have any effect at all, if the method parameter is of primitive type.