Session of the day: Java NIO2 in JDK7

Today has been a good day at the JavaOne. I have seen quite a few great and useful talks. For the session of the day I have picked a talk by Alan Bateman and Carl Quinn from Netflix about the new IO API (JSR203) that will be available in JDK7.

In my own private projects I still use the old Java IO API and I guess that's perfectly fine if your application is not IO critical. At work however, we have multiple projects that make use of java.nio and are very much defendant on a good performance when it comes to files and directories. So what can JSR-203 do for us?

First of all there will be a class Path which is an abstraction to a physical file or directory resource. Path is basically what File used to be in plain Java IO. To create a Path instance you have a bunch of options. You can call FileSystems.getDefault().getPath("/foo/bar") or just Paths.get("/foo/bar"). One nice thing is that Path will implement java.lang.Iterable so that you can iterate over a physical path from root to current directory. If you want to know at which depth you currently are from the root just call Path.getNameCount(). Another nice thing, when you iterate over Path using the legacy Iterator idiom and you invoke iterator.remove, then the physical file gets deleted.

In the example code above you already saw something called FileSystem. This is the a of all Paths in NIO2. In JDK7 there will also be something called a Provider which you can leverage to create your own FileSystem. It will be possible to create a memory based FileSystem, a Desktop FS or a Hadoop FileSystem or anything else you can think of. You can even make your FileSystem the default FileSystem so that whenever your application calls FileSystems.getDefault() will return your custom FileSystem.

Another cool thing is the possibility to traverse a directory tree. NIO2 contains a Interface called FileVisitor. The Interface has a bunch of methods like preVisitDirectory, postVisitDirectory, visitFile, visitFileFailed etc. Each of the methods will be invoked at certain stages when traversing a file tree. For convinced JSR-203 ships with a bunch of implementations of FileVisitor like SimpleFileVisitor or InvokeFileVisitor. You can use one of these FileVisitor's and then only overwrite the methods that are interesting for you. To kick off traversal of the file tree you would call Files.walkFileTree(Path path, FileVisitor fileVisitor).

This becomes really handy when you use it in conjunction with another new class in JDK7 called PathMatcher. This is an Interface similar to FileFilter in old Java IO maybe. This is how to create a PathMatcher: FileSystems.getDefault().getPathMatcher("glob:*.log"). In this example it will select all files matching *.log. You can also use regular expressions instead of glob syntax.

If you look at the method signature of visitFile in the FileVisitor Interface you will notice that the second parameter is of type BasicFileAttributes, which are the attributes of the current file that visitFile is invoked with. So let's say you create your FileVisitor with a PathMather that selects *.log files. What you could do in the visitFile method, is to invoke PathMatcher.match and if it is a log file, check the file size attribute using the given BasicFileAttributes. If the file is bigger than a certain size, delete it. Pretty handy or? A piece of very short Java code that traverses a File tree and deleted logfiles of a certain size.

PathMatcher matcher = FileSystems.getDefault().getPathMatcher("glob:*.{java,class}");

Path filename = ...;
if (matcher.matches(filename)) {

A entirely different use case can be covered with WatchService, Watchable, WatchEvent and WatchKey. These guys make it possible to sit, listen and react to changes that occur to Path objects. First you get yourself a WatchService using the default FileSystem. WatchService watcher = FileSystems.getDefault().newWatchService(). The next step is to get the Path like before Paths.get("/foo/bar/old.log"). Then you register the Path with the WatchService to get a WatchKey: WatchKey key = path.register(watcher, ENTRY_CREATE, ENTRY_DELETE, ENTRY_MODIFY). The last parameters in the register method are varargs. In the example you will be watching create, delete and modification events on the specified Path. Finally you need to create an invinite loop that is constantly polling the events out of the WatchKey. Your code can then react to these events.

for (;;) {

//wait for key to be signaled
WatchKey key;
try {
key = watcher.take();
} catch (InterruptedException x) {

for (WatchEvent event: key.pollEvents()) {
WatchEvent.Kind kind = event.kind();

//This key is registered only for ENTRY_CREATE events,
//but an OVERFLOW event can occur regardless if events are
//lost or discarded.
if (kind == OVERFLOW) {

// do your stuff

boolean valid = key.reset();
if (!valid) {

One new feature that is particular interesting for our applications is the new DirectoryStream class. You use it to access the contents of a directory. Well you could do this before but DirectoryStream scales much better and uses less resources. This will not be an issue if you have a couple of hunded files in your directory but make a huge difference if there are hundreds of thousand files in the directory. Here is how to use DirectoryStream.

Path dir = new File("/foo/bar").toPath(); // new method on File in JDK7
DirectoryStream stream = null;
try {
stream = dir.newDirectoryStream();
for (Path file: stream) {
} catch (IOException x) {
} finally {
if (stream != null) stream.close();

Okay this post was maybe a bit too theoretical. You can check out what nio2 feels like with the OpenJDK or this great tutorial.