Data Types

EvalEx supports the following data types:

Data Type Internal Representation
NUMBER java.math.BigDecimal
BOOLEAN java.lang.Boolean
STRING java.lang.String
DATE_TIME java.time.Instant
DURATION java.time.Duration
ARRAY java.util.List
STRUCTURE java.util.Map
EXPRESSION_NODE com.ezylang.evalex.parser.ASTNode
NULL null

Data is stored in an EvaluationValue, which holds the value and the data type.


Numbers are stored as java.math.BigDecimal values and are either passed directly, or will automatically be converted from one of the following Java data types:

  • long
  • int
  • short
  • byte
  • double
  • float

Be careful when passing double or float values, as these have to be converted from their floating-point arithmetic representation to a BigDecimal representation, which stores values a signed decimal number of arbitrary precision with an associated scale.


Booleans can be passed directly as variable values to an expression evaluation, or are the result of a boolean operation or function.

If STRING or NUMBER values are used in boolean expressions, they are converted using the following rules:

  • If the value is a NUMBER, it is false if it equals to zero. All other values evaluate to true.
  • If the value is a STRING, it is true if it equals to “true” (any case), false otherwise.

Consider this example, it will evaluate to true:

Expression expression = new Expression("stringValue && numberValue")
    .with("stringValue", "True")
    .and("numberValue", 42);


Any instance of java.lang.CharSequence or java.lang.Character will automatically be converted to a STRING datatype. Conversion will be done by invoking the toString() method on the input object.

By default, the string literal delimiter is the double quote character (“). You can also use both " and ' as string literal delimiters by changing the configuration. See chapter Configuration for details.


Any instance of java.time.Instant, java.time.LocalDate, java.time.LocalDateTime, java.time.ZoneDateTime, java.time.OffsetDateTime, java.util.Date or java.util.Calendar, will automatically be converted to a DATE_TIME datatype. If the conversion requires a time zone and no time zone is given in the input object, then the configured time zone is used.


Duration are stored as a java.time.Duration. The duration values are useful for calculations with DATE_TIME values.


Arrays are stored internally as a java.util.List<EvaluationValue>. When passed as a variable, the list will be iterated and each entry will be converted using the data type conversion rules. Instances of java.util.List and Java arrays can be passed as parameters. So, for example, a list or array of double values will be converted to a list of EvaluationValue objects of type NUMBER, with an internal BigDecimal representation.

Arrays can hold mixed data types:

List<Object> list = List.of(2.5, "Hello", true);

// prints "true" 
    new Expression("list[2]").with("list", list).evaluate().getStringValue());

Array index starts at 0 with the first array element.

Arrays can hold other arrays as members, which can hold other arrays and so on:

List<Object> list1 = List.of(1, 2, 3);
List<Object> list2 = List.of(4, 5, 6);
List<Object> sublist = List.of(100, 200, 300);
List<Object> list3 = List.of(7, 8, sublist);

List list = List.of(list1, list2, list3);

// prints 200
    new Expression("list[2][2][1]").with("list", list).evaluate().getStringValue());

Arrays can also hold STRUCTURE elements as entries.


Structures are stored internally as a java.util.Map<String, EvaluationValue>. When passed as a variable, the map entries will be iterated and each entry value will be converted using the data type conversion rules.

Structures can hold other structures, which can form a tree like data structure.

Arrays and structures can be combined in any arbitrary way.

Map<String, Object> order = new HashMap<>();
order.put("id", 12345);
order.put("name", "Mary");

Map<String, Object> position = new HashMap<>();
position.put("article", 3114);
position.put("amount", 3);
position.put("price", new BigDecimal("14.95"));

order.put("positions", List.of(position));

Expression expression = new Expression("order.positions[x].amount * order.positions[x].price")
    .with("order", order)
    .and("x", 0);

BigDecimal result = expression.evaluate().getNumberValue();

System.out.println(result); // prints 44.85

Structure elements containing spaces in name

If your structure has element names that contain spaces, you can use double quotes in the expression to access them.

Map<String, Object> data = new HashMap<>();
data.put("property 1", 12345);

Expression expression = new Expression("data.\"property 1\"")
    .with("data", data);

BigDecimal result = expression.evaluate().getNumberValue();

System.out.println(result); // prints 12345

This also works with arrays.

Map<String, Object> data = new HashMap<>();
data.put("property 1", Arrays.asList(1, 2, 3));

Expression expression = new Expression("data.\"property 1\"[1]")
    .with("data", data);

BigDecimal result = expression.evaluate().getNumberValue();

System.out.println(result); // prints 2


A string expression is converted into an abstract syntax tree (AST), which represents the expression structure and evaluation order. When an expression is evaluated, the evaluation starts at the lowest tree (leaf) node and works its way up to the root node, which then gives the expression result value.

The internal object for such a node is the com.ezylang.evalex.parser.ASTNode. It contains the token associated to the node (e.g. a multiplication operator, or a function name) and has zero or more children (the operator or function parameters).

By passing an ASTNode and its substructure as a variable, this will be handled as a subtree and will be evaluated when the node is evaluated.

With this, a lazy evaluation is possible, only evaluating a node when it is desired (see the IF() function for an example. Also, it allows the creation of sub-expressions.

The Expression object has a method to create such sub-expressions, returning the root node of an arbitrary string expression:

Expression expression = new Expression("a*b");

ASTNode subExpression = expression.createExpressionNode("4+3");

EvaluationValue result = expression
    .with("a", 2)
    .and("b", subExpression)

System.out.println(result); // prints 14

Note that the above expression is not evaluated as “2 * 4 + 3”, which would result in 11. Instead, the sub-expression “4 + 3” is calculated first, when it comes to finding the value of the variable b. Resulting in calculation of “2 * 7”, which is 14.


A representation for null objects.

This allows the handling of nulls inside the expression itself (for example using the IF() function), in case it can not be guaranteed that the passed variable values are not null before passing them.

Expression expression = new Expression("if(name == null, "unknown", name)");

EvaluationValue result = expression
    .with("name", null)

System.out.println(result); // prints unknown

Copyright © 2012-2022 Udo Klimaschewski