Java Exception Subclasses

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Even though the Java's built-in exceptions handle the most common errors, you will probably want to create your own exception types to manage the situations specific to your applications. This is quite easy to do:
just define a subclass of Exception (a subclass of Throwable). Your subclasses do not need to actually implement anything, it is their existence in the type system which allows you to use them as exceptions.

Java Exception Class

The Exception class does not define any methods of its own. It does, inherit those methods provided by the Throwable. Thus, all the exceptions, including those that you create, have the methods that defined by the Throwable available to them. They are shown in the upcoming table. You may also like to override one or more of these methods in exception classes that you create.

Exception defines the four public constructors, in which, the two constructors support the chained exceptions (you will learn about chained exceptions in the next chapter), and the other two constructors are shown here :

Exception(String msg)

The first form creates an exception which has no description. And the second form lets you to specify a description of the exception.

Even though specifying a description when an exception is created is often useful, sometimes it is better to override the method toString(). As the version of the toString() method defined by the Throwable (and inherited by Exception) is first displays the name of the exception followed by colon, which is then followed by your description. By overriding the method toString(), you can prevent the exception name and colon from being displayed. This makes for the cleaner output, which is desirable in some of the cases.

Methods Defined by Throwable

Here, the following table lists the methods defined by Throwable:

Method Description
final void addSuppressed(Throwable exc) Adds exc to the list of suppressed exceptions associated with the invoking exception. Primarily for use by the try-with-resources statement
Throwable fillInStackTrace() Returns a Throwable object that contains a complete stack trace. This object can be re-thrown
Throwable getCause() Returns the exception that underlies the current exception. If there is no underlying exception, null is returned
String getLocalizedMessage() Returns a localized description of the exception
String getMessage() Returns a description of the exception
StackTraceElement[] getStackTrace Returns an array that contains the stack trace, one element at a time, as an array of the StackTraceElement. The method at the top of the stack is the last method called before the exception was thrown. This method is found in the first element of the array. The StackTraceElement class gives your program access to information about each element in the trace, such as its method name
final Throwable[] getSuppressed() Obtains the suppressed exceptions associated with the invoking exception and returns an array that contains the result. Suppressed exceptions are primarily generated by the try-with-resources statement
Throwable initCause(Throwable causeExc) Associates causeExc with invoking exception as a cause of invoking exception. Returns a reference to the exception
void printStackTrace() Displays the stack trace
void printStackTrace(PrintStream stream) Sends the stack trace to the specified stream
void printStackTrace(PrintWriter stream) Sends the stack trace to the specified stream
void setStackTrace(StackTraceElement elements[]) Sets the stack trace to the elements passed in elements. This method is for the specialized applications, not normal use
String toString() Returns a String object containing a description of the exception. This method is called by println() when outputting a Throwable object

Java Exception Subclass Example

Here this example program declares a new subclass of Exception and then uses the subclass to signal an error condition in a method. It overrides the method toString(), allowing a carefully plain and simple description of the exception to be displayed.

/* Java Program Example - Java Create Exception Subclasses
 * This program creates a custom exception type 
 class MyException extends Exception {
     private int detail;
     MyException(int x) {
         detail = x;
     public String toString() {
         return "MyException[" + detail + "]";

 class JavaProgram
     static void calculate(int x) throws MyException {
         System.out.println("Called calculate(" + x + ")");
            throw new MyException(x);
         System.out.println("Normal exit");
     public static void main(String args[])
         try {
         } catch(MyException e) {
             System.out.println("Caught " + e);

This example program defines a subclass of Exception named MyException. This subclass is preferably simple. As it has only a constructor plus an overridden the method toString() that displays the value of the exception. The class JavaProgram defines a calculate() method which throws MyException object. The exception is thrown when the calculate() method's integer parameter is greater than 10. The method main() sets up an exception handler for the MyException and, then calls the method calculate() with a valid value (less than 10) and an illegal one to show both paths by the code. Here is the output/result :

java create exception subclasses

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