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Java I/O: The Byte-Oriented Stream Classes


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Java I/O: The Byte-Oriented Stream Classes


In the previous posts, we got an introduction to byte-oriented stream classes, where we used the

·         FileInputStream class

·         FileOutputStream class

As we can see from I/O class hierarchy diagram below, there are several more classes in this category. Although it is not possible to cover all these classes all togehter, we will look at how to use some of them in practical situations so that we are able to use the rest in our applications. We begin with the:

·         ByteArrayInputStream/ByteArrayOutputStream classes

·         DataInputStream/DataOutputStream classes.

 As the names suggest, the first two classes operate on a byte array and the latter two operate on object data—rather than primitive data types.

 These are obviously the decorator classes that wrap the InputStream/OutputStream base classes i.e. These classes decorate the InputStream and OutputStream based on the well-known Decorator design pattern.

Let’s discuss the purpose behind having them in the first place. In many situations, we have the data available in byte arrays. For example, when we transmit and receive data over a modem, the data is available in modem buffers, which are basically the byte arrays.

Consider the case of the NYSE and NASDAQ.

·         These stock exchanges stream trade data in real time to brokers.

·         Trade data consists of scrip code, trade time, bid price, offer price, volume, the high, low, and opening prices, as well as a few more fields.

·         This data is transmitted over a socket connection to the client machine.

·         The exchange server writes this data to a modem buffer. The data is sent in raw binary format in order to save bandwidth.

 In this case, we would use a ByteArrayOutputStream class to write the data to its internal buffer. This class deals with only raw binary data. To provide the abstraction to higher data types, we would use the DataOutputStream class, which is a wrapper on the ByteArrayOutputStream class.

The DataOutputStream contains many methods to write the primitive data types. By chaining the data output stream to a byte array output stream, we can write the binary form of the trade data into a byte array and then send the entire array in a single packet to the remote machine.

 At the client end, we would use ByteArrayInputStream to buffer the data retrieved from a socket connection. You would then use the DataInputStream class to convert the raw data to primitive data types.

There is an important point to notice here that, The DataInputStream and DataOutputStream go together. If the data is written using any other output stream class, the read methods of the DataInputStream will not be able to successfully read the data.



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