Marking and Resetting

It's often useful to be able to read a few bytes and then back up and reread them. For example, in a Java compiler, you don't know for sure whether you're reading the token <, <<, or <<= until you've read one too many characters. It would be useful to be able to back up and reread the token once you know which token you've read.

Some (but not all) input streams allow you to mark a particular position in the stream and then return to it. Three methods in the java.io.InputStream class handle marking and resetting:

public void mark(int readLimit)
public void reset( ) 
 throws IOException
public boolean markSupported( ) 

The markSupported( ) method returns true if this stream supports marking and false if it doesn't. If marking is not supported, reset( ) throws an IOException and mark( ) does nothing. Assuming the stream does support marking, the mark( ) method places a bookmark at the current position in the stream. You can rewind the stream to this position later with reset( ) as long as you haven't read more than readLimit bytes. There can be only one mark in the stream at any given time. Marking a second location erases the first mark.

The only two input stream classes in java.io that always support marking are BufferedInputStream (of which System.in is an instance) and ByteArrayInputStream.

However, other input streams such as DataInputStream may support marking if they're chained to a buffered input stream first.

This is a truly bizarre design. It's almost always a bad idea to put methods in a superclass that aren't applicable to all subclasses. The proper solution to this problem would be to define a Resettable interface that declares these three methods and then have subclasses implement that interface or not as they choose. You could then tell whether marking and resetting were supported with a simple instanceof Resettable test. All I can offer by way of explanation here is that this design was invented ten years ago in Java 1.0, when not all the people working on Java were fully adept at object-oriented design.


Basic I/O

Introducing I/O

Output Streams

Input Streams

Data Sources

File Streams

Network Streams

Filter Streams

Filter Streams

Print Streams

Data Streams

Streams in Memory

Compressing Streams

JAR Archives

Cryptographic Streams

Object Serialization

New I/O

Buffers

Channels

Nonblocking I/O

The File System

Working with Files

File Dialogs and Choosers

Text

Character Sets and Unicode

Readers and Writers

Formatted I/O with java.text

Devices

The Java Communications API

USB

The J2ME Generic Connection Framework

Bluetooth

Character Sets

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Java I/O
Java I/O
ISBN: 0596527500
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 244
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