Re: Very strange behavior with Tertiary op, null and autoboxing

Daniel Pitts <>
Thu, 31 Jan 2008 17:58:49 -0800 (PST)
Please don't top post.
On Jan 31, 5:48 pm, Sideswipe <> wrote:

On Jan 31, 5:02 pm, Daniel Pitts <> wrote:

On Jan 31, 4:44 pm, Sideswipe <> wrote:

I have this code:

public Boolean getValue(ItemAttributeSource source) {
     Currency c = FIXED_SHIPPING_CHARGE.getValue(source);

     return (c != null ? c.compareTo(c.getUnit().ZERO_VALUE) > 0 :


it compiles happy and runs fine on RHEL3 using JDK 1.6.0_03.

This same exact code throws a NullPointerException on Windows XP JDK
1.6.0_02 (same problem happened on 1.5) because of this autoboxing

Boolean a = null;
boolean b = a;

System.out.println(b); // NPE here as expected

So, what's happening is that on linux the Type of the 3rd operand is
determined and the 2nd is boxed to it
On windows, the second operand type is determined (primitive boolean)
and then the 3rd operand is boxed to it which is producing a NPE.

Also, on Linux it compiles fine and figures out the correct boxing
type is Boolean (that is the return type). On Windows it requires an
explicit cast of the second operand to (Boolean) to make this work.

Can someone explain this to me?

Christian Bongiorno


"If one of the second and third operands is of type boolean and the
type of the other is of type Boolean, then the type of the conditional
expression is boolean."

Sounds like it should throw an NPE whenever c==null in this case.

The clearer way to do this is:
if (c== null) { return null; }
return c.compareTo(ZERO) > 0;

Although, I would take it a step further, and replace the Boolean
return value with a "ShippingCharge" value that has the appropriate
handling of true/false/"null". Also, make the ShippingCharge object
returned never be null, but instead create a special value that
handles the business logic of that case. Polymorphism is your friend.

So then the Linux Version is bugged? The behavior should be identical
regardless of platform -- this is a definite portability issue.
As for changing the return type -- you assume I control the code and
can jam that down other peoples throats.

I made no such assumption. I simply gave you a gem of good advice on
how it *should* be done. Whether you have the clout with your
coworkers isn't my problem :-)

I must have read an old version of the spec as the one I read was
silent on this. I did also remove the ternary operator to eliminate

That's a good step in the right direction.

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