Chapter 4. The class File Format

This chapter describes the Java Virtual Machine class file format. Each class file contains the definition of a single class or interface. Although a class or interface need not have an external representation literally contained in a file (for instance, because the class is generated by a class loader), we will colloquially refer to any valid representation of a class or interface as being in the class file format.

A class file consists of a stream of 8-bit bytes. All 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit quantities are constructed by reading in two, four, and eight consecutive 8-bit bytes, respectively. Multibyte data items are always stored in big-endian order, where the high bytes come first. In the Java SE platform, ...

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