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How does one go about and try to find all subclasses of a given class (or all implementors of a given interface) in Java? As of now, I have a method to do this, but I find it quite inefficient (to say the least). The method is:

  1. Get a list of all class names that exist on the class path
  2. Load each class and test to see if it is a subclass or implementor of the desired class or interface

In Eclipse, there is a nice feature called the Type Hierarchy that manages to show this quite efficiently. How does one go about and do it programmatically?

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There is no other way to do it other than what you described. Think about it - how can anyone know what classes extend ClassX without scanning each class on the classpath?

Eclipse can only tell you about the super and subclasses in what seems to be an "efficient" amount of time because it already has all of the type data loaded at the point where you press the "Display in Type Hierarchy" button (since it is constantly compiling your classes, knows about everything on the classpath, etc).

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