Call a method when object state changes

I am providing an annotation @validateName which anyone can include in their code. Suppose some one coded

class Person {
    private String name;

Then they can call NameValidator.validate(personObject) or some similar method to validate the field.

I want to make sure that the name field is always in a valid state i.e. I want to call the validate() method automatically whenever an annotated variable changes (no matter where it changes whether inside or outside the class). I am willing to write a plugin that hooks into Eclipse and gets invoked during compilation phase. Please provide some pointers where I can start looking for solutions. (I guess I have to implement some sort of AOP or should modify the bytecode using BCEL or something. I am not sure as I haven't tried both.)


With AspectJ you can do this:



import java.lang.annotation.Retention;
import java.lang.annotation.RetentionPolicy;

public @interface ValidateName {}

Driver class


public class Application {
    private int id;
    private String firstName;
    private String lastName;
    private String placeOfBirth;

    public Application(int id, String firstName, String lastName, String placeOfBirth) { = id;
        this.firstName = firstName;
        this.lastName = lastName;
        this.placeOfBirth = placeOfBirth;

    public String toString() {
        return "Application [id=" + id + ", firstName=" + firstName
                + ", lastName=" + lastName + ", placeOfBirth=" + placeOfBirth
                + "]";

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println(new Application(1, "Galileo", "Galilei", "Pisa, Italy"));
        System.out.println(new Application(2, "Isaac", "Newton", "Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom"));
        System.out.println(new Application(3, "Albert", "Einstein", "Ulm, Germany"));
        System.out.println(new Application(4, "Werner", "Heisenberg", "Würzburg, Germany"));

Validator aspect

package de.scrum_master.aop.aspect;

import java.util.Random;

public aspect NameValidator {
    void validate(String name) {
        if (new Random().nextBoolean())
            throw new RuntimeException("Invalid name " + name);

    void around(String name) : set(@ValidateName * *.*) && args(name) {
        System.out.print("Validating name " + name);
        try {
            System.out.println(" -> OK");
        catch (Exception e) {
            name = name.toUpperCase();
            System.out.println(" -> " + e.getMessage() + " -> replaced by " + name);

As you can see, my validator just randomly fails in ca. 50% of all cases based on a pseudo-random value. When it does, it just replaces the "invalid" name by a capitalised version. The output looks like a variation of this:

Validating name Galileo -> OK
Validating name Galilei -> Invalid name Galilei -> replaced by GALILEI
Application [id=1, firstName=Galileo, lastName=GALILEI, placeOfBirth=Pisa, Italy]
Validating name Isaac -> Invalid name Isaac -> replaced by ISAAC
Validating name Newton -> Invalid name Newton -> replaced by NEWTON
Application [id=2, firstName=ISAAC, lastName=NEWTON, placeOfBirth=Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom]
Validating name Albert -> OK
Validating name Einstein -> Invalid name Einstein -> replaced by EINSTEIN
Application [id=3, firstName=Albert, lastName=EINSTEIN, placeOfBirth=Ulm, Germany]
Validating name Werner -> OK
Validating name Heisenberg -> Invalid name Heisenberg -> replaced by HEISENBERG
Application [id=4, firstName=Werner, lastName=HEISENBERG, placeOfBirth=Würzburg, Germany]

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