How to create ArrayList from an array in Java?

I have an array that is initialized like:

Element[] array = {new Element(1), new Element(2), new Element(3)};

I would like to convert this array into an object of the ArrayList class.

ArrayList<Element> arraylist = ???;

How to create ArrayList from array in Java? Short answer:

Use this code snippet:

new ArrayList<>(Arrays.asList(array));

Answer #2:

Given:

Element[] array = new Element[] { new Element(1), new Element(2), new Element(3) };

The simplest answer is to do:

List<Element> list = Arrays.asList(array);

This will work fine. But some caveats:

  1. The list returned from asList has fixed size. So, if you want to be able to add or remove elements from the returned list in your code, you’ll need to wrap it in a new ArrayList. Otherwise you’ll get an UnsupportedOperationException.
  2. The list returned from asList() is backed by the original array. If you modify the original array, the list will be modified as well. This may be surprising.

Answer #3:

If You Can, Use Guava

It’s worth pointing out the Guava way, which greatly simplifies these shenanigans:

Usage

For an Immutable List

Use the ImmutableList class and its of() and copyOf() factory methods (elements can’t be null):

List<String> il = ImmutableList.of("string", "elements");  // from varargs
List<String> il = ImmutableList.copyOf(aStringArray);      // from array

For A Mutable List

Use the Lists class and its newArrayList() factory methods:

List<String> l1 = Lists.newArrayList(anotherListOrCollection);    // from collection
List<String> l2 = Lists.newArrayList(aStringArray);               // from array
List<String> l3 = Lists.newArrayList("or", "string", "elements"); // from varargs

Please also note the similar methods for other data structures in other classes, for instance in Sets.

Why Guava?

The main attraction could be to reduce the clutter due to generics for type-safety, as the use of the Guava factory methods allow the types to be inferred most of the time. However, this argument holds less water since Java 7 arrived with the new diamond operator.

But it’s not the only reason (and Java 7 isn’t everywhere yet): the shorthand syntax is also very handy, and the methods initializers, as seen above, allow to write more expressive code. You do in one Guava call what takes 2 with the current Java Collections.


If You Can’t…

For an Immutable List

Use the JDK’s Arrays class and its asList() factory method, wrapped with a Collections.unmodifiableList():

List<String> l1 = Collections.unmodifiableList(Arrays.asList(anArrayOfElements));
List<String> l2 = Collections.unmodifiableList(Arrays.asList("element1", "element2"));

Note that the returned type for asList() is a List using a concrete ArrayList implementation, but it is NOT java.util.ArrayList. It’s an inner type, which emulates an ArrayList but actually directly references the passed array and makes it “write through” (modifications are reflected in the array).

It forbids modifications through some of the List API’s methods by way of simply extending an AbstractList (so, adding or removing elements is unsupported), however it allows calls to set() to override elements. Thus this list isn’t truly immutable and a call to asList() should be wrapped with Collections.unmodifiableList().

See the next step if you need a mutable list.

For a Mutable List

Same as above, but wrapped with an actual java.util.ArrayList:

List<String> l1  = new ArrayList<String>(Arrays.asList(array));    // Java 1.5 to 1.6
List<String> l1b = new ArrayList<>(Arrays.asList(array));          // Java 1.7+
List<String> l2  = new ArrayList<String>(Arrays.asList("a", "b")); // Java 1.5 to 1.6
List<String> l2b = new ArrayList<>(Arrays.asList("a", "b"));       // Java 1.7+

For Educational Purposes: The Good ol’ Manual Way

// for Java 1.5+
static <T> List<T> arrayToList(final T[] array) {
  final List<T> l = new ArrayList<T>(array.length);

  for (final T s : array) {
    l.add(s);
  }
  return (l);
}

// for Java < 1.5 (no generics, no compile-time type-safety, boo!)
static List arrayToList(final Object[] array) {
  final List l = new ArrayList(array.length);

  for (int i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
    l.add(array[i]);
  }
  return (l);
}

Answer #4:

Since this question is pretty old, it surprises me that nobody suggested the simplest form yet:

List<Element> arraylist = Arrays.asList(new Element(1), new Element(2), new Element(3));

As of Java 5, Arrays.asList() takes a varargs parameter and you don’t have to construct the array explicitly.

OR

You probably just need a List, not an ArrayList. In that case you can just do:

List<Element> arraylist = Arrays.asList(array);

How to convert an array to ArrayList in Java? Answer #5:

new ArrayList<T>(Arrays.asList(myArray));

Make sure that myArray is the same type as T. You’ll get a compiler error if you try to create a List<Integer> from an array of int, for example.

Another way (although essentially equivalent to the new ArrayList(Arrays.asList(array)) solution performance-wise:

Collections.addAll(arraylist, array);

Java 9

In Java 9, you can use List.of static factory method in order to create a List literal. Something like the following:

List<Element> elements = List.of(new Element(1), new Element(2), new Element(3));

This would return an immutable list containing three elements. If you want a mutable list, pass that list to the ArrayList constructor:

new ArrayList<>(List.of(// elements vararg))

JEP 269: Convenience Factory Methods for Collections

JEP 269 provides some convenient factory methods for Java Collections API. These immutable static factory methods are built into the ListSet, and Map interfaces in Java 9 and later.

If you use :

new ArrayList<T>(Arrays.asList(myArray));

you may create and fill two lists ! Filling twice a big list is exactly what you don’t want to do because it will create another Object[] array each time the capacity needs to be extended.

Fortunately the JDK implementation is fast and Arrays.asList(a[]) is very well done. It create a kind of ArrayList named Arrays.ArrayList where the Object[] data points directly to the array.

// in Arrays
@SafeVarargs
public static <T> List<T> asList(T... a) {
    return new ArrayList<>(a);
}
//still in Arrays, creating a private unseen class
private static class ArrayList<E>

    private final E[] a;    
    ArrayList(E[] array) {
        a = array; // you point to the previous array
    }
    ....
}

The dangerous side is that if you change the initial array, you change the List! Are you sure you want that? Maybe yes, maybe not.

If not, the most understandable way is to do this :

ArrayList<Element> list = new ArrayList<Element>(myArray.length); // you know the initial capacity
for (Element element : myArray) {
    list.add(element);
}

Or you can create another independent ArrayList with :

new ArrayList<T>(Arrays.asList(myArray));

I love to use CollectionsArrays, or Guava. But if it don’t fit, or you don’t feel it, just write another inelegant line instead.

Answer #6:

According with the question the answer using java 1.7 is:

ArrayList<Element> arraylist = new ArrayList<Element>(Arrays.<Element>asList(array));

However it’s better always use the interface:

List<Element> arraylist = Arrays.<Element>asList(array);

Hope you learned something from this post.

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