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ClassNotFoundException vs. NoClassDefFoundError

This quick tutorial will help you learn to distinguish between two similar, but different problems that can crop up in your code.

ClassNotFoundException and NoClassDefFoundError occur when a particular class is not found at runtime. However, they occur at different scenarios.

ClassNotFoundException is an exception that occurs when you try to load a class at run time using Class.forName() or loadClass() methods and mentioned classes are not found in the classpath.

NoClassDefFoundError is an error that occurs when a particular class is present at compile time, but was missing at run time.

ClassNotFoundException

ClassNotFoundException is a runtime exception that is thrown when an application tries to load a class at runtime using the Class.forName() or loadClass() or findSystemClass() methods ,and the class with specified name are not found in the classpath. For example, you may have come across this exception when you try to connect to MySQL or Oracle databases and you have not updated the classpath with required JAR files. Most of the time, this exception occurs when you try to run an application without updating the classpath with required JAR files.

For example, the below program will throw ClassNotFoundException if the mentioned class “oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver” is not found in the classpath.

public class MainClass
{
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
        try
        {
            Class.forName("oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver");
        }catch (ClassNotFoundException e)
        {
            e.printStackTrace();
        }
    }
}
 

If you run the above program without updating the classpath with required JAR files, you will get an exception akin to:

java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver
at java.net.URLClassLoader.findClass(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source)
at sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.Class.forName0(Native Method)
at java.lang.Class.forName(Unknown Source)
at pack1.MainClass.main(MainClass.java:17)
 

NoClassDefFoundError

NoClassDefFoundError is an error that is thrown when the Java Runtime System tries to load the definition of a class, and that class definition is no longer available. The required class definition was present at compile time, but it was missing at runtime. For example, compile the program below.

class A
{
  // some code
}
public class B
{
    public static void main(String[] args)
 

When you compile the above program, two .class files will be generated. One is A.class and another one is B.class. If you remove the A.class file and run the B.class file, Java Runtime System will throw NoClassDefFoundError like below:

 

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