Sockets form the underpinnings of almost all networking protocols. JDBC, RMI, CORBA, EJB, and the non-Java RPC (Remote Procedure Call) and NFS (Network File System) are all implemented by connecting various types of sockets together. Socket connections can be implemented in many languages, not just Java: C, C++, Perl, and Python are also popular, and many others are possible. A client or server written in any one of these languages can communicate with its opposite written in any of the other languages. Therefore, it's worth taking a quick look at how the ServerSocket behaves, even if you wind up utilizing the higher-level services such as RMI, JDBC, CORBA, or EJB.
The discussion looks first at the ServerSocket itself, then at writing data over a socket in various ways. Finally, we show a complete implementation of a usable network server written in Java: the chat server from the client in the previous chapter.