Visibility (controlling access to members of a class)

Private Visibility

private visibility allows a variable to only be accessed by its class. They are often used in conjunction with public getters and setters.

class SomeClass {
     private int variable;

    public int getVariable() {
        return variable;
    }
    public void setVariable(int variable) {
        this.variable = variable;
    }
}
public class SomeOtherClass {
   public static void main(String[] args) {
      SomeClass sc = new SomeClass();

     // These statement won't compile because SomeClass#variable is private:
     sc.variable = 7;
     System.out.println(sc.variable);

    // Instead, you should use the public getter and setter:
    sc.setVariable(7);
    System.out.println(sc.getVariable());
    }
}

Package Visibility

With no modifier, the default is package visibility. From the Java Documentation, “[package visibility] indicates whether classes in the same package as the class (regardless of their parentage) have access to the member.” In this example from javax.swing,

package javax.swing;
public abstract class JComponent extends Container … {
      …
      static boolean DEBUG_GRAPHICS_LOADED;
      …
}

DebugGraphics is in the same package, so DEBUG_GRAPHICS_LOADED is accessible.

package javax.swing;
public class DebugGraphics extends Graphics {
      …
      static {
           JComponent.DEBUG_GRAPHICS_LOADED = true;
      }
      …
}

Protected Visibility

Protected visibility causes means that this member is visible to its package, along with any of its subclasses.

As an example:

package com.stackexchange.docs;
public class MyClass{
        protected int variable; //This is the variable that we are trying to access
       public MyClass(){
           variable = 2;
       };
}

Now we’ll extend this class and try to access one of its protected members.

package some.other.pack;
import com.stackexchange.docs.MyClass;
public class SubClass extends MyClass{
      public SubClass(){
           super();
           System.out.println(super.variable);
      }
}

You would be also able to access a protected member without extending it if you are accessing it from the same
package.

Note that this modifier only works on members of a class, not on the class itself.

Summary of Class Member Access Modifiers

Access ModifierVisibilityInheritance
PrivateClass onlyCan’t be inherited
No modifier / PackageIn packageAvailable if subclass in package
ProtectedIn packageAvailable in subclass
PublicEverywhereAvailable in subclass
Available in subclass

There was once a private protected (both keywords at once) modifier that could be applied to methods or variables to make them accessible from a subclass outside the package, but make them private to the classes in
that package.

Interface members
public interface MyInterface {
      public void foo();
      int bar();
      public String TEXT = "Hello";
      int ANSWER = 42;
      public class X {
      }
      class Y {
     }
}

Interface members always have public visibility, even if the public keyword is omitted. So both foo(), bar(), TEXT, ANSWER, X, and Y have public visibility. However, access may still be limited by the containing interface – since MyInterface has public visibility, its members may be accessed from anywhere, but if MyInterface had had package visibility, its members would only have been accessible from within the same package.

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