A list is an ordered collection of elements that are distinguished by their indices. List elements can be of any data type—primitive types, collections, sObjects, user-defined types, and built-in Apex types. For example, the following table is a visual representation of a list of Strings:

Index 0 Index 1 Index 2 Index 3 Index 4 Index 5
'Red' 'Orange' 'Yellow' 'Green' 'Blue' 'Purple'

The index position of the first element in a list is always 0.

Lists can contain any collection and can be nested within one another and become multidimensional. For example, you can have a list of lists of sets of Integers. A list can contain up to four levels of nested collections inside it, that is, a total of five levels overall.

To declare a list, use the List keyword followed by the primitive data, sObject, nested list, map, or set type within <> characters. For example:

// Create an empty list of String
List<String> my_list = new List<String>();
// Create a nested list
List<List<Set<Integer>>> my_list_2 = new List<List<Set<Integer>>>();

To access elements in a list, use the List methods provided by Apex. For example:

List<Integer> myList = new List<Integer>(); // Define a new list
myList.add(47);                    // Adds a second element of value 47 to the end 
                                       // of the list
Integer i = myList.get(0); // Retrieves the element at index 0 myList.set(0, 1); // Adds the integer 1 to the list at index 0 myList.clear(); // Removes all elements from the list

For more information, including a complete list of all supported methods, see List Class.

Using Array Notation for One-Dimensional Lists

When using one-dimensional lists of primitives or objects, you can also use more traditional array notation to declare and reference list elements. For example, you can declare a one-dimensional list of primitives or objects by following the data type name with the [] characters:

String[] colors = new List<String>();

These two statements are equivalent to the previous:

List<String> colors = new String[1];
String[] colors = new String[1];

To reference an element of a one-dimensional list, you can also follow the name of the list with the element's index position in square brackets. For example:

colors[0] = 'Green';

Even though the size of the previous String array is defined as one element (the number between the brackets in new String[1]), lists are elastic and can grow as needed provided that you use the Listadd method to add new elements. For example, you can add two or more elements to the colors list. But if you’re using square brackets to add an element to a list, the list behaves like an array and isn’t elastic, that is, you won’t be allowed to add more elements than the declared array size.

All lists are initialized to null. Lists can be assigned values and allocated memory using literal notation. For example:

Example Description
List<Integer> ints = new Integer[0];
Defines an Integer list of size zero with no elements
List<Integer> ints = new Integer[6];
Defines an Integer list with memory allocated for six Integers
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