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madhead
madhead

Posted on • Originally published at madhead.me

How I blundered with enum's hashCode

I was implementing an HTTP caching for one of our APIs, based on "ETag" and "If-None-Match" headers. The entity I was trying to cache — Feed — was simple:

data class Feed(
    val deviceId: String,
    val platform: Platform,
    val items: List<FeedItem>
)

enum class Platform {
    IOS, ANDROID
}

data class FeedItem(
    val id: Int
    // Integers and strings
)
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I decided to use hashCode() for ETags.

I knew that both Integer and String have a well-defined and stable hash code: Integer#hashCode() is equal to the primitive value represented by that Integer object, and String#hashCode() uses a known formula. List#hashCode() is stable as well as long as it’s elements have stable hash codes.

yeah, we happy

Of course not, we’re not happy! I forgot to check the details about Enum#hashCode() method.

And here be dragons: enum’s hash code is not stable across different JVM instances. I assumed wrongly that it is calculated as value’s ordinal(), which is Integer, which, we know, has a stable hash code, equal to itself. But it’s not. Enum’s hash code is defined in Java (Kotlin is virtually the same) as:

public final int hashCode() {
    return super.hashCode();
}
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Here, super is an Object, and, as we know, Object's hash code is stable unless the object itself is changed. It’s generally the case with enums: there is only one instance of each of enum’s values per JVM and they are stable. But it’s important to emphasize, that it applies to a single JVM. Enum’s on different JVMs will have different hash codes.

And that’s how our ETags were broken: every time the request landed on a new server, the ETag was different, even if the objects stored in the database were the same. The situation was worsened by the fact that we were using short-lived JVMs (AWS Lambda functions), so the caching was completely broken for a while until I tracked down this issue.

RTFM!

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