3.1. The Binary Class Format

The binary class format means different things to different people. To an application developer, the binary class is the compiled output of a Java class. Most of the time, you can treat the class format as a black box—a detail that is thankfully hidden by the compiler. The binary class is also the unit of executable code recognized by the virtual machine. Virtual machine developers see the binary class as a data structure that can be loaded, interpreted, and manipulated by virtual machines and by Java development tools. The binary class is also the unit of granularity for dynamic class loading. Authors of custom class loaders take this view and may use their knowledge of the binary class format to generate custom ...

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