10.3. Channels

Channels were introduced in the 1.4 release of Java to provide a faster capability for input and output operations with files, network sockets, and piped I/O operations between programs than the methods provided by the stream classes. I will be discussing channels only in the context of files, not because the other uses for channels are difficult, but just to keep the book focused on the essentials so that the potential for a hernia is minimized. The channel mechanism can take advantage of buffering and other capabilities of the underlying operating system and therefore is considerably more efficient than using the operations provided directly within the file stream classes. As I said earlier, a channel transfers data between a file and one or more buffers. I'll first introduce the overall relationships between the various classes that define channels and buffers, and then look into the details of how you use channels with file streams.

A considerable number of classes and interfaces define both channels and buffers. They also have similar names such as ByteBuffer and ByteChannel. Of course, File and file stream objects are also involved in file I/O operations, so you will be using at least four different types of objects working together when you read from or write to files. Just to clarify what they all do, here's a summary of the essential role of each of them in file operations:

  • A File object encapsulates a path to a file or a directory, and such an object encapsulating ...

Get Ivor Horton's Beginning Java™ 2, JDK™ 5th Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.