This week's book giveaway is in the OCAJP 8 forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide and have Edward Finegan & Robert Liguori on-line! See this thread for details.
If you'd like a more specific answer, ask a more specific question. Anytime you return a List, you are returning a Collection, as List implements Collection. [ November 11, 2004: Message edited by: Nick George ]
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I think most introductory Java texts dedicate at least a whole chapter to the Collections framework. This should give you an idea of how broad the topic is. The link Nick gave to the API docs is good for reference, but probably doesn't help you understand how to use it. As Nick mentioned, you need to be more specific about which type of Collection you want to use. In this case, List sounds appropriate. Now you need to decide, what type of List to use. There are basically two kinds of lists: linear and random access. If you only need to access the elements in order, a linear LinkedList is appropriate. However, a random access list is more popular since it is more like an array (i.e. you can efficiently access any element by a given index). In this case, you can use either ArrayList or Vector. ArrayList is the usual choice. The major difference is that Vector is designed to be thread safe. So unless you are writing a threaded program, you should avoid the overhead in Vector and just use ArrayList instead.
Well, this is only a general overview. Please feel free to ask more specific questions that pertain to your particular problem.