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Ternary Operator

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Definition:

The ternary operator "?:" earns its name because it's the only operator to take three operands. It is a conditional operator that provides a shorter syntax for the if..then..else statement. The first operand is a boolean expression; if the expression is true then the value of the second operand is returned otherwise the value of the third operand is returned:

 boolean expression ? value1 : value2 

Examples:

The following if..then..else statement:

 boolean isHappy = true;
 String mood = "";
 if (isHappy == true)
 {
 mood = "I'm Happy!";
 }
 else
 {
 mood = "I'm Sad!";
 }
 

can be reduced to one line using the ternary operator:

 boolean isHappy = true;
 String mood = (isHappy == true)?"I'm Happy!":"I'm Sad!"; 

Generally the code is easier to read when the if..then..else statement is written in full but sometimes the ternary operator can be a handy syntax shortcut.

Glossary:

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