Values of public member fields in a Java object can be obtained (and are usually obtained) with the notation<objectName>.<fieldName>. But Java offers another possibility to do that: using the reflection API it is possible to retrieve ajava.lang.reflect.Field object representing a given field and to call specific methods of the Field class to obtain field values. While this process is clearly not necessary in the majority of cases where programmers know a priori the definition of classes they are using in a given program, if such definition is not known (or is only partially known) until when the program is executed the reflection API represents a valuable tool for dealing with unknown classes.
Differently from the usual case where a class definition is available at build time, the fields of a given class accessed through the reflection API can have an arbitrary type, thus the Field class provides a number of methods to retrieve field values of different types; all of these methods take as their unique argument the object from which a field value has to be retrieved. Below are listed the methods that allow retrieving each Java primitive type: