Java – Setting an exception cause in Java


I can see on catching an exception that I can print e.getCause(), though it is always null.

Do I need to set it somewhere, or is something missing which is setting the cause to null?

Best Solution

An Exception has the attributes message and cause. The message is a description, telling a human reader more or less exactly, what went wrong. The cause is something different: it is, if available, another (nested) Throwable.

The concept is often used if we use custom exceptions like this:

catch(IOException e) {
  throw new ApplicationException("Failed on reading file soandso", e);
  //                              ^ Message                        ^ Cause

In response to djangofan's comment:

The standard is that the nested expression (the cause) is printed with its stack trace too.

Running this little application

public class Exceptions {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Exception r = new RuntimeException("Some message");
        throw new RuntimeException("Some other message", r);

will output

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.RuntimeException: Some other message
    at Exceptions.main(
    at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method)
    at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(
    at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(
    at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(
    at com.intellij.rt.execution.application.AppMain.main(
Caused by: java.lang.RuntimeException: Some message
    at Exceptions.main(
    ... 5 more

Both messages are included.