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@Builder Annotation in Java

Java is a versatile and widely used programming language known for its robustness and readability. When it comes to creating objects with multiple attributes, the builder pattern is a popular design choice. It enhances code maintainability and readability, especially when dealing with objects with many optional attributes. In this section, we will delve into the concept of a custom @Builder annotation in Java to simplify the process of creating builder classes for our objects.

Builder Pattern

The builder pattern is a creational design pattern that allows you to create complex objects step by step. It separates the construction of a complex object from its representation, enabling you to create various configurations without having a cluttered constructor with numerous parameters.

Here's a quick overview of the essential components of the builder pattern:

  1. Product: It is the complex object we want to create. It often has numerous optional attributes.
  2. Builder: The builder class contains methods to set the attributes of the product. It follows a fluent interface, allows us to chain method calls.
  3. Director (optional): The director class orchestrates the construction of the product using the builder. It is optional and may not be used in all implementations.

Benefits of Custom @Builder Annotation

The custom @Builder annotation, along with the annotation processor, provides several benefits:

  1. Reduced Boilerplate Code: It reduces the amount of boilerplate code required to create builder classes for complex objects, making code cleaner and more maintainable.
  2. Improved Readability: Using a builder pattern enhances code readability by providing a clear, fluent interface for setting object attributes.
  3. Consistency: The generated builder classes follow a consistent naming and usage pattern, reducing the chances of errors.
  4. Code Generation: It automates the generation of builder classes, saving developers time and effort.
  5. Simplifies Object Construction: It simplifies the construction of complex objects with multiple attributes, especially when many of them are optional.

Creating a Custom @Builder Annotation

To simplify the process of creating builder classes for our objects, we can define a custom @Builder annotation in Java. The annotation will automatically generate a builder class with methods to set attributes for the annotated class. Below, we will walk through creating this custom annotation and using it with an example.

Step 1: Define the @Builder Annotation

In this code, we have created a simple @Builder annotation. We specify that it should only be retained at the source level (not at runtime) and can only be applied to class declarations.

Step 2: Create an Annotated Class

Let's create a class that we want to generate a builder for using our custom @Builder annotation.

By annotating the Person class with @Builder, we indicate that we want to generate a builder for this class.

Step 3: Implement the Annotation Processor

To generate the builder class, we need to implement an annotation processor. In a real project, we would use a tool like JavaPoet to generate source code. However, for simplicity, we will manually create the builder class in this example.

In the generateBuilder method, we would use JavaPoet or other code generation libraries to create the builder class and its methods dynamically.

Step 4: Use the Generated Builder

After the annotation processor generates the builder class, you can use it as follows:

Annotation Processor

An annotation processor is a program that reads annotations in source code and generates new source code, files, or other resources based on those annotations. In our example, the BuilderProcessor class is responsible for processing the @Builder annotation and generating the builder class.

  1. Processing Annotations: The process method is invoked by the Java compiler. It receives a set of annotations to process. In our case, we're interested in annotations of type @Builder.
  2. Generating the Builder Class: For each class annotated with @Builder, we call the generateBuilder method to generate a corresponding builder class. This method constructs the source code for the builder class using a StringBuilder.
  3. Writing to a File: After constructing the source code for the builder class, we use the processingEnv.getFiler() to create a new source file for the builder class. The builder class is placed in the same package as the annotated class.
  4. Builder Class Structure: Inside the generateBuilder method, we iterate over the fields of the annotated class and generate code to create builder methods for each field. For example, for the firstName field, we generate a method like public PersonBuilder firstName(String firstName) { ... }.
  5. Build Method: We also generate a build method that constructs an instance of the annotated class using the values set in the builder.


Custom annotations in Java can significantly improve code maintainability and readability. In this article, we explored the concept of a custom @Builder annotation that generates builder classes for annotated classes automatically. While this example demonstrates the basic idea, real-world implementations would use code generation libraries to create the builder classes dynamically, making your code more concise and maintainable. The builder pattern, along with custom annotations, can be a powerful combination for designing flexible and clean APIs in Java.

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