Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Updates to the Spanish-English glossary

Various new entries have been added to the Javamex site's Spanish-English glossary of computing terms. For those not familiar with the glossary, it contains English translations of various Spanish computing terms, covering various IT topics such as programming, networking, the Internet, software and hardware, GUIs etc.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Information on memory usage of objects

The section on Java memory usage now contains the following additional articles:
  • information on how to calculate the memory usage of a Java object in general, considering the memory used for "housekeeping" by the JVM
  • calculating the memory usage of Strings, which can often the type of object to use up the biggest proportion of space in a Java application: this section actually considers the memory use of string-related objects such as StringBuffers and StringBuilders
A section on reducing the memory taken up by Strings looks at string canonicalisation, a fairly standard approach (but one which requires certain caveats), plus introduces the example of a CompactCharSequence class, that stores strings as 1 byte per character, thus taking up around half othe memory taken up by a regular Java String (at the expense of not supporting Unicode).

Comments on these articles welcome as usual.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Beta: Classmexer agent

The beta version of a simple instrumentation tool is available for download from the Javamex site. The Classmexer jar provides various calls for querying the memory usage of Java objects. Via the provided MemoryUtil class.deepMemoryUsageOf() method, it is possible to get an estimate from the JVM of the number of bytes taken up by an object and its "subobjects" (objects referred to by a non-public reference, or by references with other visibility criteria). The memory usage of subobjects is combined recursively (so subobjects of subobjects are considered etc), but without counting the same object more than once.

A variant of the call is also provided which gives the total memory usage of several objects at a time, without counting as duplicates objects referenced by more than one of the objects.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Updates to profiling section

Firstly, some minor corrections and additions to the Java profiling section. The corrections mainly concern a couple of typos that crept into the variable names of the examples. Readers should be reassured that the code, like that of the site in general, is copied and pasted from working, live profiling code. But things such as variable names are occasionally changed or shortened for the purposes of making it clearer on the site, and that seems to be where the errors crept in. I've also taken the opportunity to add a few links to other sections of the site (such as the section on threading, sleep() and yield()) that were added since the profiling tutorial was written.

Readers interested in Java profiling may also be interested in the first page of an upcoming section on Java and memory. This first page looks at how to find out the memory usage of a Java object. The technique involves using the Java Instrumentation framework introduced in version 5 of the language to query the JVM directly for the size of an object. Although slightly fiddly to set up, the technique has the advantage that there's less guesswork involved than if we were to just estimate an object's size (although future pages in the section will nonetheless look at estimation).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

RSS feeds of Java tutorials

The Javamex web site now publishes various RSS feeds containing links to articles published recently or on particular topics of frequent interest. The available feeds are as follows:
Suggestions are welcome if you think there's a feed on another theme that you think would be useful.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New section: using threads in Java

The first articles in this new section look primarily at how to use "raw" threads in Java. As well as the basics such as how to create a thread and stop or interrupt it, the section looks at more advanced threading topics such as:

How threads work

A look at threads "under the hood": an examination of some of the details of thread scheduling, and the implications of different scheduling algorithms for Java threads and the methods that control them.

Thread priorities

How they work (or rather, how they don't work...) on specific operating systems. Did you know, for example:
  • on Linux, setPriority() has no effect pre Java 6, and that even then you need to run as rootand use a special command-line flag?
  • on Windows, the implementation of setPriority() changed between Sun's Java 5 and Java 6 implementations?
  • on Windows, thread priorities have little effect on threads competing for CPU?
See the article for more information.

sleep() and yield()

Information on the limitations and behaviour of sleep() under different load, sleep granularity, and bugs in the Windows implementation. And finally, find out what yield() actually does...!

Suggestions welcome!

As with all sections of the Javamex site, suggestions are very welcome here for new topics or specific questions you'd like to see answered. Updates and additions will be added periodically. Corrections are also very welcome since, particularly in the case of the some of the threading topics, I have tried to pull together information which is elusive or described in contradictory ways in different sources!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is the Java equivalent of...?

If you're a C/C++ programmer who has more recently moved into Java, you may welcome a new section of the Javamex site loosely entitled What is the Java equivalent of...?

The section aims to examine Java equivalents of some of those awkward little features of C/C++ that people tend to miss or not know how to achieve when they migrate to Java. For example:

What is the Java equivalent of unsigned? In C/C++, you can tell the compiler to treat an integer variable as unsigned by adding the unsigned modifier to its declaration. In Java, integer primitives are generally unsigned. But as we see, bitwise operations generally only require the right shift operator to be modified (so that Java uses >>> where C/C++ uses >> to operate on unsigned values). And for arithmetic operations, judicious use of the AND operator can often get us round the problem.

What is the Java equivalent of const?
In C/C++, this operator tells the compiler not to allow the variable in question (or the value it points to) to be modified. We discuss the nearest Java equivalents, which actually depend on the circumstances.

The section on memory management in Java vs C/C++ looks at equivalents of operators such as new and malloc(), and their opposites. We see that in general, C/C++ puts more burden on the programmer to deal with memory management issues. Possible C/C++ bugs relating to memory management include allocating memory on the stack and then letting it "escape" the function; such bugs are not possible in Java. But there are issues that do crop up in Java that we sometimes need to be aware of, such as how garbage collection object finalization works, or how to deal with a "raw" block of memory (one typical use of malloc() in C/C++).

If you have a suggestion for a new topic in the Java equivalents section, please leave an appropriate comment on this blog. Corrections or suggestions for the existing articles are always welcome too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Section on Java Servlets

The newly updated section on writing Java Servlets, looks at issues such as the following:
  • some of the "mechanics" of getting start with Servlets, such as getting the appropriate version of the JDK and some Servlet hosting tips such as the features and quotas that you should be looking out for in a Servlet hosting package
  • the anatomy of an example Servlet
  • dealing with HTTP sessions, and why you should use the Java Session API to handle them;
  • dealing with "raw" cookies when you need them;
  • deciding if you need to modify your Servlet to work with keep-alive connections: in some configurations, you may be beneficial to add some code to set the Content-Length header; we discuss how to find out if this is necessary.
Web programmers may also be interested in the section on Java AJAX programming currently in development.

Comments and suggestions for extra material are always welcome, of course!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Improvements to section on 'volatile'

The site's section on the Java volatile keyword has been expanded to include information such as:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New section on sorting

A new section on sorting has been added to the Java Collections section of the web site. The section currently contains information on:
The latter section shows that, if your application makes repeated sorts of very small data sets, an alternative sort algorithm may be beneficial.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Advanced use of hash codes

For many purposes, the plain old HashMap and related collections serve their purpose well and you don't need to worry too much about their gory details.

But in some cases, some more advanced hashing-related techniques can help us save memory. In a new section on advanced hashing techniques, we discuss using a BitSet to perform duplicate elimination with a certain degree of error but a significant memory saving. Knowing a little about the statistics of hash codes helps us work out the degree of error involved. For example, with a BitSet taking up around 120K, we can perform duplicate elimination on tens of thousands of strings with a 'false positive' rate of around 2%. This is a technique that I use, for example, in gathering web site statistics, and in similar cases where I want the functionality of a hash map or hash set but can accept a certain degree of error. The technique allows what would otherwise be quite a large amount of data to be 'held in memory', thus significantly reducing database hits, for example.

Have you been using hash codes in an interesting way that I haven't mentioned? If so, I'd be interested to hear.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The wait/notify mechanism in Java

One of the most commonly viewed articles on the Javamex site is our discussion of the wait/notify mechanism. It appears that this is a particular topic of doubt among developers.

The wait/notify mechanism is essentially used for one thread to "signal" or pass information to another thread. As of Java 5, the new concurrency classes provide more convenient alternatives to many common uses of wait() and notify(). See in particular:
Suggested additions to these discussions are welcome (on this blog), as well as feedback on how well these articles helped you solve your problem.


Welcome to the news and development blog for the Javamex web site. The site contains various resources for new and experienced Java developers.

Announcements about new and upcoming content will be posted to this blog. The blog also serves as a placeholder for comments about particular pages on the site.