Monday, January 6, 2014

Java Class Loader

Java ClassLoader loads a java class file into java virtual machine. It is as simple as that. It is not a huge complicated concept to learn and every java developer must know about the java class loaders and how it works.
Like NullPointerException, one exception that is very popular is ClassNotFoundException. At least in your beginner stage you might have got umpteen number of ClassNotFoundException. Java class loader is the culprit that is causing this exception.

Types (Hierarchy) of Java Class Loaders

Java class loaders can be broadly classified into below categories:
  • Bootstrap Class Loader
    Bootstrap class loader loads java’s core classes like java.lang, java.util etc. These are classes that are part of java runtime environment. Bootstrap class loader is native implementation and so they may differ across different JVMs.
  • Extensions Class Loader
    JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/ext contains jar packages that are extensions of standard core java classes. Extensions class loader loads classes from this ext folder. Using the system environment propery java.ext.dirs you can add ‘ext’ folders and jar files to be loaded using extensions class loader.
  • System Class Loader
    Java classes that are available in the java classpath are loaded using System class loader.
You can see more class loaders like java.net.URLClassLoader, java.security.SecureClassLoader etc. Those are all extended from java.lang.ClassLoader
These class loaders have a hierarchical relationship among them. Class loader can load classes from one level above its hierarchy. First level is bootstrap class loader, second level is extensions class loader and third level is system class loader.

Class Self Reference

When a java source file is compiled to a binary class, compiler inserts a field into java class file. It is a public static final field named ‘class’ of type java.lang.Class
So for all java classes you can access it as java.lang.Class classObj = ClassName.class;

Significance of this Class object is it contains a method getClassLoader() which returns the class loader for the class. It will return null it it was loaded by bootstrap class loader.

How a Java Class Loader Works?

When a class name is given, class loader first locates the class and then reads a class file of that name from the native file system. Therefore this loading process is platform dependent.
By default java.lang.ClassLoader is registered as a class loader that is capable of loading classes in parallel. But the subclasses needs to register as parallel or not at the time of instantiation.
Classes can also be loaded from network, constructed on runtime and loaded. ClassLoader class has a method name defineClass which takes input as byte array and loads a class.

Class Loader Parent

All class loaders except bootstrap class loader has a parent class loader. This parent is not as in parent-child relationship of inheritance. Every class loader instance is associated with a parent class loader.
When a class loader is entrusted with the responsibility of loading a class, as a first step it delegates this work to the associated parent class loader. Then this parent class loader gets the instruction and sequentially it delegates the call to its parent class loader. In this chain of hierarchy the bootstrap class loader is at the top.
When a class loader instance is created, using its constructor the parent classloader can be associated with it.

Class Loader Rule 1

A class is loaded only once into the JVM.
In this rule, what is “a class”? Uniqueness of a class is identified along with the ClassLoader instance that loaded this class into the JVM. A class is always identified using its fully qualified name (package.classname). So when a class is loaded into JVM, you have an entry as (package, classname, classloader). Therefore the same class can be loaded twice by two different ClassLoader instances.
I will be writing some more articles on custom class loaders, jar hell and internals of class loading like loading-linking.

5 comments:

oakleyses said...

louis vuitton handbags, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, longchamp outlet, nike shoes, louis vuitton outlet stores, chanel handbags, burberry outlet, prada outlet, jordan shoes, tiffany and co, michael kors outlet, tory burch outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp handbags, nike free, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, kate spade outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, tiffany and co, prada handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade handbags, burberry outlet, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin outlet, louboutin, coach factory outlet, air max, air max, coach outlet, gucci outlet, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, coach purses, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, coach outlet store online, true religion jeans, oakley sunglasses cheap

oakleyses said...

ralph lauren, lululemon, air max, hollister, north face, nike air max, polo lacoste, vanessa bruno, timberland, vans pas cher, louboutin, louis vuitton, oakley pas cher, air max pas cher, nike roshe run, air max, true religion outlet, barbour, sac longchamp, air force, hollister, sac louis vuitton, nike free, polo ralph lauren, nike trainers, louis vuitton uk, nike roshe, sac hermes, longchamp, michael kors, sac burberry, sac guess, mulberry, new balance pas cher, converse pas cher, sac louis vuitton, hogan outlet, nike tn, north face, true religion outlet, ray ban pas cher, michael kors, air jordan, nike blazer, nike free pas cher, michael kors pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, ray ban sunglasses

oakleyses said...

mac cosmetics, mont blanc, marc jacobs, canada goose outlet, nike huarache, vans shoes, soccer jerseys, hollister, giuseppe zanotti, beats by dre, abercrombie and fitch, longchamp, insanity workout, celine handbags, bottega veneta, ghd, nfl jerseys, north face outlet, chi flat iron, ugg boots, birkin bag, ugg australia, canada goose, herve leger, ugg pas cher, rolex watches, valentino shoes, canada goose uk, canada goose, ferragamo shoes, canada goose, ugg boots, uggs outlet, north face jackets, soccer shoes, asics running shoes, new balance shoes, p90x, lululemon outlet, canada goose jackets, mcm handbags, instyler, babyliss pro, ugg, wedding dresses, jimmy choo outlet, reebok outlet, nike roshe run

oakleyses said...

parajumpers, karen millen, air max, converse, pandora charms, moncler, louboutin, moncler, links of london, lancel, juicy couture outlet, oakley, hollister, pandora charms, supra shoes, thomas sabo, canada goose, gucci, wedding dresses, timberland boots, swarovski crystal, air max, coach outlet store online, moncler, ray ban, canada goose, moncler, ugg, louis vuitton, swarovski, hollister, montre homme, moncler, hollister clothing store, ralph lauren, rolex watches, moncler outlet, moncler, iphone 6 cases, baseball bats, juicy couture outlet, toms shoes, vans, pandora jewelry, ugg, converse shoes

Anna said...

Great and Useful Article.

Online Java Training

Online Java Course

Java EE course

Java Course in Chennai

Java Training in Chennai

Java Training Institutes in Chennai

Java Interview Questions

Java Interview Questions