spring mvc – What is a callback method in Java? (Term seems to be used loosely)

spring mvc – What is a callback method in Java? (Term seems to be used loosely)

A callback is a piece of code that you pass as an argument to some other code so that it executes it. Since Java doesnt yet support function pointers, they are implemented as Command objects. Something like

public class Test {
    public static void main(String[] args) throws  Exception {
        new Test().doWork(new Callback() { // implementing class            
            @Override
            public void call() {
                System.out.println(callback called);
            }
        });
    }

    public void doWork(Callback callback) {
        System.out.println(doing work);
        callback.call();
    }

    public interface Callback {
        void call();
    }
}

A callback will usually hold reference to some state to actually be useful.

By making the callback implementation have all the dependencies to your code, you gain indirection between your code and the code that is executing the callback.

A callback method in java is a method that gets called when an event (call it E) occurs. Usually you can implement that by passing an implementation of a certain interface to the system that is responsible for triggering the event E (see example 1).

Also in bigger and more complex systems you simply can annotate a method and the system will identify all annotated methods and will call them when the event occurs (see example 2). Of course the system defines what parameters the method should receive and other constraints.

Example 1:

public interface Callback {
    //parameters can be of any types, depending on the event defined
    void callbackMethod(String aParameter);
}


public class CallbackImpl implements Callback {
    void callbackMethod(String aParameter) {
     //here you do your logic with the received paratemers
     //System.out.println(Parameter received:  + aParameter);

    }
}

//.... and then somewhere you have to tell the system to add the callback method
//e.g. systemInstance.addCallback(new CallbackImpl());

Example 2:

//by annotating a method with this annotation, the system will know which method it should call. 
@Retention(RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
@Target(ElementType.METHOD)
public @interface CallbackAnnotation {}


public class AClass {

    @CallbackAnnotation
    void callbackMethod(String aParameter) {
     //here you do your logic with the received paratemers
     //System.out.println(Parameter received:  + aParameter);

    }
}

//.... and then somewhere you have to tell the system to add the callback class
//and the system will create an instance of the callback class
//e.g. systemInstance.addCallbackClass(AClass.class);

spring mvc – What is a callback method in Java? (Term seems to be used loosely)

In simple terms, callback mechanism refers to calling a function with another function as an argument. In languages like C,C++ this is done by passing function pointers as arguments but java doesnt have the concept of pointers. The workaround is interfaces. We pass reference to interfaces instead of pointers. Your understanding will be crystal clear after understanding the code below.
To also show the real world applications, imagine purchasing a mouse and a mouse pad. The mouse pad price is fixed but mouse price differs by brand.

interface mouse
{
    double mousePrice();
}
class BrandA implements mouse
{
    public double mousePrice()          //note that public access modifier is needed as all methods of interface are public are by default and when you override them
    //you cannot use any access modifier more restrictive
    {
        return 100;
    }

}

class BrandB implements mouse
{
    public double mousePrice()
    {
        return 200;
    }

}

class Simple
{
    static void total(mouse t)
    {
        double mousepad = 20;
        double mousep = t.mousePrice();
        System.out.println(mousepad + mousep);
    }
    public static void main(String args[])
    {
        mouse ob = new BrandA();        //upcasting. 
        total(ob);
    }
}

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