You use a reader almost exactly as you use an input stream. Rather than reading bytes, you read characters. The basic read( ) method reads a specified number of characters from the underlying input stream into an array starting at a given offset:
public abstract int read(char text, int offset, int length) throws IOException
This read( ) method returns the number of characters actually read. As with input streams reading bytes, there may not be as many characters available as you requested. Also like the read( ) method of an input stream, it returns -1 when it detects the end of the data.
This read( ) method is abstract. Concrete subclasses that read bytes from some source must override this method. An IOException may be thrown if the underlying stream's read( ) method throws an IOException or an encoding error is detected.
You can also fill an array with characters using this method:
public int read(char text) throws IOException
This is equivalent to invoking read(text, 0, text.length). Thus, it also returns the number of characters read and throws an IOException when the underlying stream throws an IOException or when an encoding error is detected. The following method reads a single character and returns it:
public int read( ) throws IOException
Although an int is returned, this int is always between 0 and 65,535 and may be cast to a char without losing information. All three read( ) methods block until some input is available, an I/O error occurs, or the end of the stream is reached.
In Java 5, Reader implements the java.lang.Readable interface which requires the ability to read directly into a CharBuffer starting at the buffer's current position:
public int read(CharBuffer target) // Java 5 throws IOException, NullPointerException, ReadOnlyBufferException
Like the other read( ) methods, this method returns the number of characters read, or -1 on end of stream.
You can skip a certain number of characters. This method also blocks until some characters are available. It returns the number of characters skipped or -1 if the end of stream is reached.
public long skip(long n) throws IOException
The ready( ) method returns TRue if the reader is ready to be read from or false if it isn't. Generally, this means the underlying stream has available data.
public boolean ready( ) throws IOException
This is not quite the same as InputStream's available( ) method. available( ) returns an int specifying how many bytes are available to be read. However, it's not always possible to tell how many characters are available in a stream without actually reading them, particularly with encodings that use characters of different widths (such as UTF-8, where a character may be one, two, three, or four bytes long).
Like input streams, some readers support marking and resetting, and some don't. The markSupported( ) method returns true if the Reader supports marking and resetting or false if it doesn't.
public boolean markSupported( ) public void mark(int readAheadLimit) throws IOException public void reset( ) throws IOException
The close( ) method closes the Reader and releases any resources the reader held:
public abstract void close( ) throws IOException
Streams in Memory
The File System
Working with Files
File Dialogs and Choosers
Character Sets and Unicode
Readers and Writers
Formatted I/O with java.text
The Java Communications API
The J2ME Generic Connection Framework