Java Language Property files caveat: trailing whitespace


Example

Take a close look at these two property files which are seemingly completely identical:

enter image description here

except they are really not identical:

enter image description here

(screenshots are from Notepad++)

Since trailing whitespace is preserved the value of lastName would be "Smith" in the first case and "Smith " in the second case.

Very rarely this is what users expect and one and can only speculate why this is the default behavior of Properties class. It is however easy to create an enhanced version of Properties that fixes this problem. The following class, TrimmedProperties, does just that. It is a drop-in replacement for standard Properties class.

import java.io.FileInputStream;
import java.io.FileReader;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.io.InputStream;
import java.io.Reader;
import java.util.Map.Entry;
import java.util.Properties;

/**
 * Properties class where values are trimmed for trailing whitespace if the
 * properties are loaded from a file.
 *
 * <p>
 * In the standard {@link java.util.Properties Properties} class trailing
 * whitespace is always preserved. When loading properties from a file such
 * trailing whitespace is almost always <i>unintentional</i>. This class fixes
 * this problem. The trimming of trailing whitespace only takes place if the
 * source of input is a file and only where the input is line oriented (meaning
 * that for example loading from XML file is <i>not</i> changed by this class).
 * For this reason this class is almost in all cases a safe drop-in replacement
 * for the standard <tt>Properties</tt>
 * class.
 *
 * <p>
 * Whitespace is defined here as any of space (U+0020) or tab (U+0009).
 * * 
 */
public class TrimmedProperties extends Properties {

    /**
     * Reads a property list (key and element pairs) from the input byte stream.
     * 
     * <p>Behaves exactly as {@link java.util.Properties#load(java.io.InputStream) }
     * with the exception that trailing whitespace is trimmed from property values
     * if <tt>inStream</tt> is an instance of <tt>FileInputStream</tt>.
     * 
     * @see java.util.Properties#load(java.io.InputStream) 
     * @param inStream the input stream.
     * @throws IOException if an error occurred when reading from the input stream.
     */
    @Override
    public void load(InputStream inStream) throws IOException {
        if (inStream instanceof FileInputStream) {
            // First read into temporary props using the standard way
            Properties tempProps = new Properties();
            tempProps.load(inStream);
            // Now trim and put into target
            trimAndLoad(tempProps);
        } else {
            super.load(inStream);
        }
    }

    /**
     * Reads a property list (key and element pairs) from the input character stream in a simple line-oriented format. 
     * 
     * <p>Behaves exactly as {@link java.util.Properties#load(java.io.Reader)}
     * with the exception that trailing whitespace is trimmed on property values
     * if <tt>reader</tt> is an instance of <tt>FileReader</tt>.
     * 
     * @see java.util.Properties#load(java.io.Reader) }
     * @param reader the input character stream.
     * @throws IOException if an error occurred when reading from the input stream.
     */
    @Override
    public void load(Reader reader) throws IOException {
        if (reader instanceof FileReader) {
            // First read into temporary props using the standard way
            Properties tempProps = new Properties();
            tempProps.load(reader);
            // Now trim and put into target
            trimAndLoad(tempProps);
        } else {
            super.load(reader);
        }
    }

    private void trimAndLoad(Properties p) {
        for (Entry<Object, Object> entry : p.entrySet()) {
            if (entry.getValue() instanceof String) {
                put(entry.getKey(), trimTrailing((String) entry.getValue()));
            } else {
                put(entry.getKey(), entry.getValue());
            }
        }
    }

    /**
     * Trims trailing space or tabs from a string.
     *
     * @param str
     * @return
     */
    public static String trimTrailing(String str) {
        if (str != null) {
            // read str from tail until char is no longer whitespace
            for (int i = str.length() - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
                if ((str.charAt(i) != ' ') && (str.charAt(i) != '\t')) {
                    return str.substring(0, i + 1);
                }
            }
        }
        return str;
    }
}