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How to avoid NullPointerException in Java

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In this tutorial we are going to understand what is NullPointerException and how to avoid this exception.

If you use (or planning to use) a Java IDE like JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse or Netbeans or a tool like findbugs then you can use annotations to solve this problem.

Basically, you’ve got @Nullable and @NotNull.

You can use in method and parameters, like this:

@NotNull public static String helloWorld() {
    return "Hello World";

@Nullable public static String helloWorld() {
    return "Hello World";

The second example won’t compile (in IntelliJ IDEA).

When you use the first helloWorld() function in another piece of code:

public static void main(String[] args)
    String result = helloWorld();
    if(result != null) {

Now the IntelliJ IDEA compiler will tell you that the check is useless, since the helloWorld() function won’t return null, ever.

Using parameter

void someMethod(@NotNull someParameter) { }

if you write something like:


This won’t compile.

Last example using @Nullable

@Nullable iWantToDestroyEverything() { return null; }

Doing this


And you can be sure that this won’t happen.

It’s a nice way to let the compiler check something more than it usually does and to enforce your contracts to be stronger. Unfortunately, it’s not supported by all the compilers.

In IntelliJ IDEA 10.5 and on, they added support for any other @Nullable @NotNull implementations.