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Object Input Interfaces


The ObjectInputStream Class

Class ObjectInputStream implements object deserialization. It maintains the state of the stream including the set of objects already deserialized. Its methods allow primitive types and objects to be read from a stream written by ObjectOutputStream. It manages restoration of the object and the objects that it refers to from the stream.

package java.io;

public class ObjectInputStream
	extends InputStream
	implements ObjectInput, ObjectStreamConstants
	public ObjectInputStream(InputStream in)
		throws StreamCorruptedException, IOException;

	public final Object readObject()
		throws OptionalDataException, ClassNotFoundException, 

	public final void defaultReadObject()
		throws IOException, ClassNotFoundException,

	public synchronized void registerValidation(
		ObjectInputValidation obj, int prio)
		throws NotActiveException, InvalidObjectException;

	protected Class resolveClass(ObjectStreamClass v)
		throws IOException, ClassNotFoundException;

	protected Object resolveObject(Object obj)
	    	throws IOException;

	protected final boolean enableResolveObject(boolean enable)
		throws SecurityException;

	protected void readStreamHeader()
		throws IOException, StreamCorruptedException;

	public int read() throws IOException;

	public int read(byte[] data, int offset, int length)
		throws IOException

	public int available() throws IOException;

	public void close() throws IOException;

	public boolean readBoolean() throws IOException;

	public byte readByte() throws IOException;

	public int readUnsignedByte()  throws IOException;

	public short readShort()  throws IOException;

	public int readUnsignedShort() throws IOException;

	public char readChar()  throws IOException;

	public int readInt()  throws IOException;

	public long readLong()  throws IOException;

	public float readFloat() throws IOException;

	public double readDouble() throws IOException;

	public void readFully(byte[] data) throws IOException;

	public void readFully(byte[] data, int offset, int size)
		throws IOException;

	public int skipBytes(int len) throws IOException;

	public String readLine() throws IOException;

	public String readUTF() throws IOException;
The ObjectInputStream constructor requires an InputStream. The constructor calls readStreamHeader to read and verifies the header and version written by the corresponding ObjectOutputStream.writeStreamHeader method.

The readObject method is used to deserialize an object from the stream. It reads from the stream to reconstruct an object.

  1. If a block data record occurs in the stream, throw a BlockDataException with the number of available bytes.
  2. If the object in the stream is null, return null.
  3. If the object in the stream is a handle to a previous object, return the object.
  4. If the object in the stream is a String, read its UTF encoding, add it and its handle to the set of known objects, and return the String.
  5. If the object in the stream is a Class, read its ObjectStreamClass descriptor, add it and its handle to the set of known objects, and return the corresponding Class object.
  6. If the object in the stream is an ObjectStreamClass, read its name, serialVersionUID, and fields. Add it and its handle to the set of known objects. Call the resolveClass method on the stream to get the local class for this descriptor, and throw an exception if the class cannot be found. Return the ObjectStreamClass object.
  7. If the object in the stream is an array, read its ObjectStreamClass and the length of the array. Allocate the array, and add it and its handle in the set of known objects. Read each element using the appropriate method for its type, assign it to the array, and return the array.
  8. For all other objects, the ObjectStreamClass of the object is read from the stream. The local class for that ObjectStreamClass is retrieved. The class must be serializable or externalizable.
  9. An instance of the class is allocated. The instance and its handle are added to the set of known objects. The contents restored appropriately:
  10. If previously enabled by enableResolveObject, the resolveObject method is called just before the object is returned. This allows subclasses to replace it if desired. The value of the call to resolveObject is returned from readObject.
All of the methods for reading primitives types only consume bytes from the block data records in the stream. If a read for primitive data occurs when the next item in the stream is an object, the read methods return -1 or the EOFException as appropriate. The value of a primitive type is read by a DataInputStream from the block data record.

The exceptions thrown reflect errors during the traversal or exceptions that occur on the underlying stream. If any exception is thrown, the underlying stream is left in an unknown and unusable state.

When the reset token occurs in the stream, all of the state of the stream is discarded. The set of known objects is cleared.

When the exception token occurs in the stream, the exception is read and a new WriteAbortedException is thrown with the terminating exception as an argument. The stream context is reset as described earlier.

The defaultReadObject method is used to read the fields of an object from the stream. It uses the class descriptor in the stream to read the fields by name and type from the stream. The values are assigned to the matching fields by name in the current class. Details of the versioning mechanism can be found in Compatible Java Type Evolution. Any field of the object that does not appear in the stream is set to its default value. Values that appear in the stream, but not in the object, are discarded. This occurs primarily when a later version of a class has written additional fields that do not occur in the earlier version. This method may only be called from the readObject method while restoring the fields of a class. When called at any other time, the NotActiveException is thrown.

The registerValidation method can be called to request a callback when the entire graph has been restored but before the object is returned to the original caller of readObject. The order of validate callbacks can be controlled using the priority. Callbacks registered with higher values are called before those with lower values. The object to be validated must support the ObjectInputValidation interface and implement the validateObject method. It is only correct to register validations during a call to a class's readObject method. Otherwise, a NotActiveException is thrown. If the callback object supplied to registerValidation is null, an InvalidObjectException is thrown.

The resolveClass method is called while a class is being deserialized, and after the class descriptor has been read. Subclasses may extend this method to read other information about the class written by the corresponding subclass of ObjectOutputStream. The method must find and return the class with the given name and serialVersionUID. The default implementation locates the class by calling the class loader of the closest caller of readObject that has a class loader. If the class cannot be found ClassNotFoundException should be thrown.

The resolveObject method is used by trusted subclasses to enable the monitoring or substitution of one object for another during deserialization. Resolving objects must be enabled explicitly by calling enableResolveObject before calling readObject for the first object to be resolved. Once enabled resolveObject is called once for each serializable object just prior to the first time it is being returned from readObject. A subclass's implementation may return a substitute object that will be assigned or returned instead of the original. The object returned must be of a type that is consistent and assignable to every reference to the original object or else a ClassCastException is thrown. All assignments are type-checked. All references in the stream to the original object will be replaced by references to the substitute object.

The enableResolveObject method is used by trusted subclasses of ObjectOutputStream to enable the monitoring or substitution of one object for another during deserialization. Replacing objects is disabled until enableResolveObject is called with a true value. It may thereafter be disabled by setting it to false. The previous setting is returned. The enableResolveObject method checks that the stream requesting to do replacement can be trusted. Every reference to deserialized objects is passed to the resolveObject method. To ensure that the private state of objects is not unintentionally exposed, only trusted streams may use resolveObject. Trusted classes are those classes with a class loader equals null.

The readStreamHeader method reads and verifies the magic number and version of the stream. If they do not match, the StreamCorruptedMismatch is thrown.

The ObjectInputValidation Interface

This interface allows an object to be called when a complete graph of objects has been deserialized. If the object cannot be made valid, it should throw the ObjectInvalidException. Any exception that occurs during a call to validateObject will terminate the validation process, and the InvalidObjectException will be thrown.

package java.io;

public interface ObjectInputValidation
	public void validateObject()
		throws InvalidObjectException;

The readObject Method

For Serializable objects, the readObject method allows a class to control the deserialization of its own fields. Here is its signature:

	private void readObject(ObjectInputStream stream)
		throws IOException;
Each subclass of a Serializable object may define its own readObject method. If a class does not implement the method, the default serialization provided by defaultReadObject will be used. When implemented, the class is only responsible for restoring its own fields, not those of its supertypes or subtypes.

The class's readObject method, if implemented, is responsible for restoring the state of the class. The defaultReadObject method should be called before reading any optional data written by the corresponding writeObject method. If an attempt is made to read more data than is present in the optional part of the stream for this class, the stream will throw an EOFException. The responsibility for the format, structure, and versioning of the optional data lies completely with the class.

If the class being restored is not present in the stream being read, its fields are initialized to the appropriate default values.

The readExternal Method

Objects implementing java.io.Externalizable must implement the readExternal method to restore the entire state of the object. It must coordinate with its superclasses to restore their state. All of the methods of ObjectInput are available to restore the object's primitive typed fields and object fields.

	public void readExternal(ObjectInput stream)
		throws IOException;
The readExternal method is public, and it raises the risk of a client being able to overwrite an existing object from a stream.

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