“Protected” and “Default” JAVA Access Modifiers
I guess that these two are the most confusing and misunderstood access modifiers amongst all other JAVA access modifiers for most of the average java programmers till date . I would like to take one by one. Lets start with “default first”
Default: Default access modifier is no-modifier. i.e when you do not specify any access modifier explicitly for a method, a variable or a class ( FYI : a top-level class can only be default or public access modifiers) it gets the default access. Default access also means “package-level” access. That means a default member can be accessed only inside the same package in which the member is declared.
Protected: Protected access modifier is the a little tricky and you can say is a superset of the default access modifier. Protected members are same as the default members as far as the access in the same package is concerned. The difference is that, the protected members are also accessible to the subclasses of the class in which the member is declared which are outside the package in which the parent class is present. But these protected members are “accessible outside the package only through inheritance“. i.e you can access a protected member of a class in its subclass present in some other package directly as if the member is present in the subclass itself. But that protected member will not be accessible in the subclass outside the package by using parent class’s reference. Confused with language ? Take an example. Say there is class “Super” in package A containing a protected integer variable “protected int x” and it’s subclass “Sub” in package B. The following would be a legal statement in a class B:
System.out.println(x); // valid
Whereas following would be an illegal statement:
// invalid, as you cannot use parent class reference to access the protected member outside the package.
Once the child gets access to the parent class’s protected member, it becomes private (or rather I would say a special private member which can be inherited by the subclasses of the subclass) member of the subclass.
I hope that clarifies the difference between the private and default access modifiers. But if you have a question still about it, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.