Skip to content
Related Articles

Related Articles

When to use Rope over StringBuilder in Java?

Improve Article
Save Article
  • Last Updated : 05 Jul, 2022
Improve Article
Save Article

What are Ropes?

Rope is a binary tree data structure where each node except the leaf contains the number of characters present to the left of the node. 

They are mainly used by text editors to store and manipulate large strings. It provides different string operations such as append, insert and delete in a faster and more efficient way. Ropes work more efficiently on large strings. Ropes do not require any extra memory nor any large contiguous memory areas.

To learn more about Rope check the article on “Rope Data Structure“.

Properties and Advantages of Ropes:


  • In a rope data structure, each leaf (end node) holds a string and a length (weights) of the string. 
  • Further up the tree, each node holds the sum of the lengths of all the leaves in its left subtree. 
  • Therefore, the whole string is divided into two parts by each node with two children where the left subtree holds the first part of the string and the second part of the tree is held by the right part. 
  • The strings stored in the nodes are assumed to be constant immutable objects.


  • There is less memory allocation.
  • Unlike arrays, they do not require O(n) extra memory for copying operations.
  • If the operations are non-destructive, it behaves as a persistent data structure. This is why the text editors give a user multiple levels of undoing.

Operations on Ropes:

1. Insert
2. Concat
3. Split
4. Delete
5. Report, etc.

What are StringBuilders?

StringBuilder is a class in Java that is an alternative to the String class. Usage of the StringBuilder is recommended since it represents a mutable sequence of characters whereas the String class represents an immutable sequence of characters.

StringBuilder can be used when you want to modify a string without creating a new object. So, when there’s a requirement to repeatedly modify a string, it would be an efficient way to use StringBuilder because creating new objects each time for each modification would consume a lot of memory.

To learn more about StringBuilder read the article on “StringBuilder class in Java“.

Properties/Characteristics of StringBuilder:

  • The StringBuilder class is the same as the StringBuffer class. The only difference is that it is non-synchronized.
  • Constructors of StringBuilder class:
    • StringBuilder() – Creates an empty StringBuilder (initial capacity is 16)
    • StringBuilder(String str) – Creates a StringBuilder with the specified string
    • StringBuilder(int length) – Creates an empty StringBuilder with the specified capacity as length
  • Is useful when you have a program that changes a string a lot i.e performs multiple operations such as concatenating a string inside a loop.

When to use Ropes over StringBuilder?

Ropes Vs. StringBuilder in terms of time complexity:




Destructive concatenation O(logN) O(N)
Insert O(logN) O(N)
Append O(logN), words case O(N) O(1)/O(N)
Delete O(logN) O(N)

When you’re working with small strings, it would be more efficient to use the StringBuilder when thread safety is not an issue since StringBuilder is not thread-safe. 

Whereas if you’re working with large strings, it would be more efficient to use Ropes since it handles large strings very well and also consumes less time. StringBuilder will improve performance in cases where you make repeated modifications to a string or concatenate many strings together.

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up
Related Articles

Start Your Coding Journey Now!