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Global unique identifiers in Java, the easy way

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A recent attempt at creating a unique identifier at work was shot down in flames by Findbugs. My naïve attempt wasn’t very thoughtful but seemed to work.


Findbugs indicated there was a possibility that I might end up with a negative value even though I “cleverly” used Math.abs().

RV: Bad attempt to compute absolute value of signed random integer (RV_ABSOLUTE_VALUE_OF_RANDOM_INT)

If the number returned by the random number generator is Integer.MIN_VALUE, then the result will be negative as well

Even though I didn’t need this random id to be perfect — the unintended side-effect wasn’t a technical problem since I used it as a String — I still wanted to fix it. Stackoverflow to the rescue.

A question-and-answer from Stackoverflow pointed the way to the solution: java.util.UUID. Somehow, I missed that Sun had added Java’s own universally unique identifier (UUID) generator in Java 1.5.

In the end, I happily replaced my homemade id generator with Java’s.


The output of which is something like 1c312843-8903-411f-88b2-ff1b92ca80ba.


From http://codeaweso.me/2011/11/global-unique-identifiers-in-java-the-easy-way/

Published at DZone with permission of Mike Christianson, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Leen Toelen replied on Thu, 2011/11/10 - 3:26am

Take into account that UUID.randomUUID().toString() is not Threadsafe. A more scalable apporach is e.g. https://github.com/twitter/snowflake

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Thu, 2011/11/10 - 3:42am

Given the cited limitation of Java UUID, I use this tiny and very fast library:


Aries McRae replied on Thu, 2011/11/10 - 4:15pm

Before Java 5, I used

// Number of milliseconds since 00:00:00 GMT Jan. 1, 1970. 



to generate a unique sequential number.

Cloves Almeida replied on Fri, 2011/11/11 - 7:17pm

You should put at least Thread.sleep(1) to avoid less-then-millisecond calls to the code returning the same number. Better yet, would be using locks and ensure thread-safety.

Peter Karussell replied on Sun, 2011/11/13 - 11:24am in response to: Leen Toelen

Hi Leen, would you mind to explain why this is not thead safe?

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