JAVA NIO – FileLock

Locking on File introduced with java.nio package that implemented by FileChannel. A FileLock is two types exclusive and shared. A shared lock allows other concurrently running program to acquire overlapping shared Lock. An Exclusive lock doesn’t allow other program to acquire overlapping lock.

Lock ideally supports shared Lock but it depends OS if OS doesn’t support share lock then it will act as exclusive locking. Locking applied on File not per channel or thread means if channel obtained the exclusive lock then other JVM’ channel will be block till first thread channel resume the lock.

Locks are associated with a file, not with individual file handles or channels Locking applied on File not per channel or thread means if channel obtained the lock before processing the file then other JVM’ channel will be block till first thread channel resume the lock. Since Lock is on File therefore it is not advisable to use lock on a single JVM.

Below is FileLock API in FileChannel class

public abstract class FileChannel extends AbstractInterruptibleChannel implements SeekableByteChannel,
GatheringByteChannel, ScatteringByteChannel {
public abstract FileLock lock(long position, long size, boolean shared) throws IOException;
public final FileLock lock() throws IOException {
return lock(0L, Long.MAX_VALUE, false);
public abstract FileLock tryLock(long position, long size, boolean shared) throws IOException;
public final FileLock tryLock() throws IOException {
return tryLock(0L, Long.MAX_VALUE, false);

The FileLock (long position, long size, boolean shared) acquire lock on specified part of a file. The region of file specified by beginning position and size whereas last argument specified if lock is shared lock (value True) of exclusive (value False). To obtain the shared lock, you need to open file with read permission whereas write permission require exclusive lock.

We can use lock () method to acquire lock on whole file not the specified area on file. File can grow therefore we need to specify the size while obtaining the lock.

Method tryLock on specified area or on full file doesn’t block/hold while acquiring a lock means it immediately return value without going to wait to acquire lock. If other process already acquired lock for specific file then it will immediate return null.

FileLock API specified as below.

public abstract class FileLock {
public final FileChannel channel( )
public final long position( )
public final long size( )
public final boolean isShared( )
public final boolean overlaps (long position, long size)
public abstract boolean isValid( );
public abstract void release( ) throws IOException;

The FileLock encapsulates specific region, which is acquired by FileChannel. FileLock associate with specific FileChannel instance and FileLock keep the reference of FileChannel that could be determining by channel () method in FileLock.

FileLock lifecycle will start when lock method or tryLock invoke from FileChannel and end when release () method called. It FileLock also invalid if JVM shutdown or associated channel closed.

isShared() method return whether lock is shared or exclusive. If shared lock is not supported by operating system then this method always return false.

FileLock objects are thread-safe; multiple threads may access a lock object concurrently.

Finally, overlaps(long position, long size) return if lock overlap the given block range or not.

FileLock object associated with an underlying file which occurred deadlock if you don’t release the lock hence it is advisable to always release lock as mentioned below

FileLock lock = fileChannel.lock( )
try {
} catch (IOException) [
} finally {
lock.release( )

JAVA NIO – Buffer

A Buffer is abstract class of java.nio, which contains fixed amount of data. It can store data and later retrieve those data. Buffer has key three properties:

  • Capacity: A buffer’s capacity is the number of elements it contains. It is constant number that doesn’t change
  • Limit: A buffer limits is the index of the first element that should not be read or written. It always less than buffer’s capacity.
  • Position: A buffer position is the index of next element to be read from the buffer.

There is one subclass of this class for each non-boolean primitive type e.g. CharBuffer, IntBuffer etc. Buffer is abstract class that extended by non-Boolean primitive that provide common behavior across the various Buffers as shown below.


A buffer is a linear, finite sequence of elements of a specific primitive type wrapped inside an object. It constitutes date content and information about the data into single object. Data may transfer in to or out of the buffer by the I/O operations by a channel at the specified position. The I/O operation can read and write at the current position and then increment the position by the number of elements transferred. Buffer throws BufferUnderflowException and BufferOverflowException if position exceed while get operation or put operation respectively. The position field of Buffer specified the position to retrieve or insert the data element inside Buffer. Limit fields of Buffer indicates the end of the buffer which can be set using below operation

public final Buffer limit(int newLimit)

We can also drain the buffer by using flip method as below operation

public final Buffer flip()

Flip method set the limit to the current position and position to 0.The rewind () method is similar to flip () but does not affect the limit. It only sets the position back to 0. You can use rewind () to go back and reread the data in a buffer that has already been flipped.

Byte Buffers:

ByteBuffer is similar to OS ByteBuffer that could be mapped to OS’s ByteBuffer without any translation. ByteBuffer uses Byte core unit to read and write IO data, which is more significant, compare to other primitive data type buffers.

Byte buffers can be created either by allocation, which allocates space for the buffer’s content, or by wrapping an existing byte array into a buffer.

ByteBuffer are two type Direct Buffer and Indirect Buffer.

Direct & Indirect Buffers

ByteBuffer are two types Direct Buffer and Indirect Buffers. The key difference between direct buffer and indirect buffer is that direct buffer could directly access native IO calls whereas indirect buffers could not. Direct buffer access file data directly by using native I/O operation to fill or drain byte buffer. Direct buffer is memory consuming but other side it provided most efficient I/O mechanism. It doesn’t copy the buffer’s content to an intermediate buffer or vice versa.

Indirect buffer could also be used to pass the data but it could not directly uses native I/O operation upon it. Indirect buffer indirectly uses temporary direct buffer to access file IO data.

A direct buffer could be created by allocateDirect factory method, which is more expensive, and therefore it is advisable to use direct buffers only when they yield a measureable gain in program performance.

Whether a byte buffer is direct or non-direct may be determined by invoking its isDirect () method. This method is provided so that explicit buffer management can be done in performance-critical code