I'm a python programmer trying to get to grips with Java's inflexibility; I'm trying to parse a date from a string into a Calendar object

private Calendar parsedDate ( String dateString ) throws Exception {
  Calendar calendar = Calendar.getInstance();
  DateFormat format;
  Date date;
  try {
    format = new SimpleDateFormat("dd/MM/yyyy");
    date = format.parse(dateString);
  } catch (ParseException e) {
        System.out.print("wrong date format");
        calendar = null;
  return calendar;

Main method

Calendar pd;
try {
  pd = parsedDate("01/01/2016");
  if(pd != null) {
    // do stuff
  } else {
    System.out.println("A problem");
} catch (Exception e) {

I was hoping I could make the main method code snippet more succinct by taking out the try/catch - since I'm already testing if it's null, but if I do that then Java (well, eclipse) complains about Unhandled exception type Exception - do I really need both sets of try/catch, or is there a better way of achieving what I want?

  • Your try/catch there at the bottom has a different purpose, doesn't it? The ParseException try/catch is all that's needed in that parsedDate function. Apr 20, 2016 at 14:59
  • @RobertHarvey hmm, what will exception catch additionally?
    – ChrisW
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:10
  • 2
    The method's name should be a verb like parseDate(String dateString) or parseCalendar(String dateString); . Apr 20, 2016 at 15:22
  • main can be declared to throw exceptions. They'll be caught by the VM's uncaught exception handler and their stack traces will be printed. Apr 27, 2016 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


Your parsedDate method doesn't need the throws Exception clause because the exception is already being caught.

The compiler looks at the method signature when a method is called and sees throws Exception, so it expects you to handle it.

  • Ah, right. One more reason to not bother with checked exceptions. Apr 20, 2016 at 15:13
  • 1
    The simple solution is not to declare that your code may throw exceptions, when it won't. In general "throws Exception" is a bad code smell in anything but throwaway code you don't intend to maintain. If you're using a good IDE, such as Eclipse, then make use of its ability to warn you of un-caught exceptions. If it doesn't flag any, there's no need to add any new "throws" or "catch" clauses.
    – Simon B
    Apr 20, 2016 at 16:02
  • Anyways. If null is not a processable result, don't return null. Let ParseException be thrown. In this example looks like null Calendar means the end of the process. Just keep the catch and remove the if
    – Laiv
    Apr 20, 2016 at 18:29

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