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  • Reflection is commonly used by programs which require the ability to examine or modify the runtime behavior of applications running in the Java virtual machine. This is a relatively advanced feature and should be used only by developers who have a strong grasp of the fundamentals of the language. With that caveat in mind, reflection is a powerful technique and can enable applications to perform operations which would otherwise be impossible.

Reflection can be used to get information about

  • Class: The getClass() method is used to get the name of the class to which an object belongs.
  • Constructors: The getConstructors() method is used to get the public constructors of the class to which an object belongs.
  • Methods: The getMethods() method is used to get the public methods of the class to which an objects belongs.
package com.example.java.programming;

Output:

The name of class is: com.example.java.programming.Demo
The name of constructor is: com.example.java.programming.Demo
The public methods of class are:
- method2
- method1
- wait
- wait
- wait
- equals
- toString
- hashCode
- getClass
- notify
- notifyAll
The number is: 34
The string is: CODE
Private method invoked

Uses of Reflection

  • Extensibility Features: An application may make use of external, user-defined classes by creating instances of extensibility objects using their fully-qualified names.
  • Class Browsers and Visual Development Environments: A class browser needs to be able to enumerate the members of classes. Visual development environments can benefit from making use of type information available in reflection to aid the developer in writing correct code.
  • Debuggers and Test Tools: Debuggers need to be able to examine private members on classes. Test harnesses can make use of reflection to systematically call a discoverable set APIs defined on a class, to insure a high level of code coverage in a test suite.

Drawbacks of Reflection

Reflection is powerful, but should not be used indiscriminately. If it is possible to perform an operation without using reflection, then it is preferable to avoid using it. The following concerns should be kept in mind when accessing code via reflection.

  • Performance Overhead: Because reflection involves types that are dynamically resolved, certain Java virtual machine optimizations can not be performed. Consequently, reflective operations have slower performance than their non-reflective counterparts, and should be avoided in sections of code which are called frequently in performance-sensitive applications.
  • Security Restrictions: Reflection requires a runtime permission which may not be present when running under a security manager. This is in an important consideration for code which has to run in a restricted security context, such as in an Applet.
  • Exposure of Internals: Since reflection allows code to perform operations that would be illegal in non-reflective code, such as accessing private fields and methods, the use of reflection can result in unexpected side-effects, which may render code dysfunctional and may destroy portability. Reflective code breaks abstractions and therefore may change behavior with upgrades of the platform.

Reference:

https://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/reflect/index.html