Learning Resources

Input Output

Basic I/O

This lesson covers the Java platform classes used for basic I/O. It first focuses on I/O Streams, a powerful concept that greatly simplifies I/O operations. The lesson also looks at serialization, which lets a program write whole objects out to streams and read them back again. Then the lesson looks at file I/O and file system operations, including random access files.

Most of the classes covered in the I/O Streams section are in the java.io package. Most of the classes covered in the File I/O section are in the java.nio.file package.
I/O Streams

  • Byte Streams handle I/O of raw binary data.
  • Character Streams handle I/O of character data, automatically handling translation to and from the local character set.
  • Buffered Streams optimize input and output by reducing the number of calls to the native API.
  • Scanning and Formatting allows a program to read and write formatted text.
  • I/O from the Command Line describes the Standard Streams and the Console object.
  • Data Streams handle binary I/O of primitive data type and String values.
  • Object Streams handle binary I/O of objects.

I/O Streams

An I/O Stream represents an input source or an output destination. A stream can represent many different kinds of sources and destinations, including disk files, devices, other programs, and memory arrays.

Streams support many different kinds of data, including simple bytes, primitive data types, localized characters, and objects. Some streams simply pass on data; others manipulate and transform the data in useful ways.

No matter how they work internally, all streams present the same simple model to programs that use them: A stream is a sequence of data. A program uses an input stream to read data from a source, one item at a time:

Reading information into a program.

Reading information into a program.

A program uses an output stream to write data to a destination, one item at time:

Writing information from a program.

Writing information from a program.

In this lesson, we'll see streams that can handle all kinds of data, from primitive values to advanced objects.

The data source and data destination pictured above can be anything that holds, generates, or consumes data. Obviously this includes disk files, but a source or destination can also be another program, a peripheral device, a network socket, or an array.

In the next section, we'll use the most basic kind of streams, byte streams, to demonstrate the common operations of Stream I/O. For sample input, we'll use the example file xanadu.txt, which contains the following verse:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.