Java Strings - The Data Type Explained with Examples


Strings are sequences of characters. In Java, a String is not a Primitive but rather, it’s called an Object . Strings should not be confused with char as characters are literally a single value rather than a sequence of characters. You can still use a single value within a String; however, it is preferred to use char when you are checking for a single character.

String course = "FreeCodeCamp";
System.out.println(course instanceof Object);



You can create a String Object in the following ways:

  1. String str = "I am a String"; //as a String literal
  2. String str = "I" + " am" + " a" + " String"; //as a constant expression (note that spaces are in the quotes)
  3. String str = new String("I am a String"); //as a String Object using the constructor

You might be thinking: What’s the difference between the three?

Well, using the new keyword guarantees that a new String object will be created and a new memory location will be allocated in the Heap memory (click here to learn more). String literals and constant String expressions are cached at compile time. The compiler puts them in the String Literal Pool to prevent duplicates and improve memory consumption. Object allocation is expensive and this trick increases performance while instantiating Strings. If you use the same literal again, the JVM uses the same object. Using the contructor like above is almost always a worse choice.

In this code snippet, how many String objects are created?

String str = "This is a string";
String str2 = "This is a string";
String str3 = new String("This is a string");

The answer is: 2 String objects are created. str and str2 both refer to the same object. str3 has the same content but using new forced the creation of a new, distinct, object.

When you create a String literal, the JVM internally checks, what is known as the String pool , to see if it can find a similar (content wise) String object. If it finds it, it returns the same reference. Otherwise, it just goes ahead and creates a new String object in the pool so that the same check can be performed in the future.

You can test this using the swallow, fast Object comparison == and the implemented equals() .

System.out.println(str == str2); // This prints 'true'
System.out.println(str == str3); // This prints 'false'
System.out.println(str.equals(str3)); // This prints 'true'

Here’s another example on how to create a string in Java using the different methods:

public class StringExample{  

   public static void main(String args[]) {  
      String s1 = "java";  // creating string by Java string literal  
      char ch[] = {'s','t','r','i','n','g','s'};  
      String s2 = new String(ch);  // converting char array to string  
      String s3 = new String("example");  // creating Java string by new keyword  

      System.out.println("s1: "+s1);  
      System.out.println("s2: "+s2); 
      System.out.println("s3: "+s3); 

If you want to print a string with values in Java it is better to use the following: System.out.printf(“example text with %s”,value); //where value is a parameter

This uses the StringBuilder Class wich is more efficient for memory.


s1: java
s2: strings
s3: example

Comparing Strings

If you want to compare the value of two String variables, you can’t use == . This is due to the fact that this will compare the references of the variables and not the values that are linked to them. To compare the stored values of the Strings you use the .equals() method.

boolean equals(Object obj)

It returns true if two objects are equal and false otherwise.

String str = "Hello world";
String str2 = "Hello world";

System.out.println(str == str2); // This prints true
System.out.println(str.equals(str2)); // This prints true

The first comparison is true because “==” looks at the references and they are the same, because the JVM simply returns a reference to the same "Hello world" object created in the String Pool the first time.

The second comparison is true because the variables store the same values. In this case - "Hello world" .

We have several inbuilt methods in String. The following is an example of the String length() method .

public class StringDemo {

   public static void main(String args[]) {
      String palindrome = "Dot saw I was Tod";
      int len = palindrome.length();
      System.out.println( "String Length is : " + len );

This will result in - String Length is : 17

The answer is: 2 String objects are created. Notes

  1. String methods use zero-based indexes, except for the second argument of substring() .
  2. The String class is final - it’s methods can’t be overridden.
  3. When the String literal is found by JVM, it is added to string literal pool.
  4. String class posses a method name length() , while arrays have an attribute naming length.
  5. In java, string objects are immutable. Immutable simply means unmodifiable or unchangeable. Once string object is created its data or state can’t be changed but a new string object is created.

String Length

The “length” of a string is just the number of chars in it. So “hi” is length 2 and “Hello” is length 5. The length() method on a string returns its length, like this:

String a = "Hello";
int len = a.length();  // len is 5

Other comparison methods which can also be used on the String are :

  1. equalsIgnoreCase() :- compares the string without taking into consideration the case sensitivity.
String a = "HELLO";
String b = "hello";
System.out.println(a.equalsIgnoreCase(b));   // It will print true
  1. compareTo :- compares the value lexicographically and returns an integer.
String a = "Sam";
String b = "Sam";
String c = "Ram";
System.out.println(a.compareTo(b));       // 0
System.out.prinltn(a.compareTo(c));       // 1 since (a>b)
System.out.println(c.compareTo(a));       // -1 since (c<a)

Splitting Strings

If you want to split a string into multiple parts it can easily be done through .split() this creates an array of the split up parts of the string.

Example of using a delimiter (",") to split a string

String text = "Hello, World";
String[] textParts = text.split(",");

The result will be:


We can find the index of a character in a string by using the function called .indexOf() . This function allows us to know the exact index of a character making it easier to split a string with .substring() which you learn in the next example. Example:

String name = "Julie";



You can also use .indexOf() to find mulitple of the same character. Example:

String name = "name;city;state";
int firstSemiColon = name.indexOf(";");
int secondSemiColon = name.indexOf(";", firstSemiColon + 1);
System.out.println(firstSemiColon + " " + secondSemiColon);


4 9

We can also split the string by specifing the start and end index of the characters in the string. We will do this using the Java function called .substring() .

The .substring() method can be used in two ways. One with only the starting index and one with both the start and end index. Take note that the index starts from 0. Example:

String text = "Hello,This is FreeCodeCamp";

Will produce

This is FreeCodeCamp

To use it with an ending index take note that the actual ending index is -1 of the value passed into the method. Now using .substring() with an ending index Example:

String text = "Hello,This is FreeCodeCamp";

The result will be:


String Case Conversion

  1. .toLowerCase() - This method will convert the string into lower case characters. Example:
String text1 = "Welcome99";
String text2 = "WELCOME";
String text3 = "well";

The output will be:-

  1. .toUpperCase() - This method will convert the string into upper case characters. Example:
String text1 = "Welcome99";
String text2 = "WELCOME";
String text3 = "well";

The output will be:-