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Difference Between Serializable and Externalizable in Java Serialization

  • Last Updated : 09 Jun, 2021

The process of writing the state of an object to a file is called serialization, but strictly speaking, it is the process of converting an object from java supported form into a file supported form or network supported form. By using fileOutputStream and objectOutputStream  classes we can implement serialization. 

But we can serialize only serializable objects. An object is said to be serializable if and only if the corresponding class implements a Serializable interface. Serializable interface present in java.io package, and it doesn’t contain any method and hence it is a marked interface. If we are trying to serializable a non-serializable object then we will get Runtime Exception saying notSerializableException

Example:

Java




// Java Program to illustrate Serializable
 
// Importing utility classes
// Importing input output classes
import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;
 
// Main Class
// Class implementing serializable interface
class serializableDemo implements Serializable {
    // Member variables of this class
    String name;
    int age;
    int jobId;
 
    // Default constructor
    public serializableDemo(String name, int age, int jobId)
    {
        // This keyword is used to refer
        // current object instance
        this.name = name;
        this.age = age;
        this.jobId = jobId;
    }
 
    // Method 2
    // Main driver method
    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception
    {
 
        // Creating an object of class in main() method
        serializableDemo t1
            = new serializableDemo("Ram", 34, 2364);
 
        // Serialization
 
        // Saving of object in a file
        FileOutputStream fos
            = new FileOutputStream("abc1.ser");
        ObjectOutputStream oos
            = new ObjectOutputStream(fos);
 
        // Method for serialization of object
        oos.writeObject(t1);
 
        System.out.println("Object has been serialized");
        // Deserialization
 
        // Reading the object from a file
        FileInputStream fis
            = new FileInputStream("abc1.ser");
        ObjectInputStream ois = new ObjectInputStream(fis);
 
        // Method for deserialization of object
        serializableDemo t2
            = (serializableDemo)ois.readObject();
 
        // Display message only
        System.out.println("Object has been deserialized ");
 
        // Print and display the name and age
        // to illustrate Serializable
        System.out.println("Name:" + t2.name + "\n"
                           + "Age:" + t2.age + "\n"
                           + t2.jobId);
    }
}

Output:



Object has been serialized
Object has been deserialized  
Name:Ram
Age:34  
2364  

Externalizable

In serialization, everything is taken care of by JVM and the programmer doesn’t have any control. In serialization, it is always possible to solve the total object to file, and it is not possible to save part of the object which may create performance problems. To overcome this problem we should go for externalization.

The main advantage over serialization is everything is taken care of by the programmer and JVM doesn’t have any control. Based on our requirements we can save either the total object or part of the object which improves the performance of the system. To provide the generalizable ability for any java object compulsory the corresponding class should implement a generalizable interface.

This interface defines two methods as follows:

Method 1 

public void  writeExternal( ObjectIOutput obj ) throws IOException

This method will be executed automatically at the time of serialization within this method we have to write code to save the required variable to the file.

Method 2         

public void  readExternal(ObjectInput  in )throws IOException , ClassNotFoundException

This method will be executed automatically at the time of deserialization. Within this method, we have to write code to read the required variable from the file and assign it to the current object. But strictly speaking at the time of deserialization JVM will create a separate new object by executing a public no-argument constructor and then on that object, JVM will call the readExternal method.



Hence, every Externalizable implemented class should compulsorily contain a public no-argument constructor otherwise we will get Runtime Exception saying InvalidClassException.

Example:

Java




// Java Program to illustrate Externalizable
 
// Importing input output classes
import java.io.*;
// Importing utility classes
import java.util.*;
 
// Main Class
// Class implementing externalizable class
public class ExternalizableDemo implements Externalizable {
 
    // Member variables of this class
    String name;
    int age;
    int jobId;
 
    // Constructors of this class
 
    // Constructor 1
    // No-argument constructor
    public ExternalizableDemo()
    {
 
        // Display message
        System.out.println(
            "Public no-argument constructor");
    }
 
    // Constructor 2
    // Default constructor
    public ExternalizableDemo(String name, int age,
                              int jobId)
    {
 
        // This keyword refers to current object itself
        this.name = name;
        this.age = age;
        this.jobId = jobId;
    }
 
    // Implementing write external method
    public void writeExternal(ObjectOutput out)
        throws IOException
    {
        // Writing name and age to file
        out.writeObject(name);
        out.writeInt(age);
    }
 
    // Implementing readExternal method
    public void readExternal(ObjectInput in)
        throws IOException, ClassNotFoundException
    {
        // Reading name from file
        name = (String)in.readObject();
 
        // Reading age from file
        age = in.readInt();
    }
 
    // Main method
    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception
    {
 
        // Creating an object of type ExternalizableDemo
        ExternalizableDemo t1
            = new ExternalizableDemo("Ram", 35, 23675);
 
        // Serialization of object
        FileOutputStream fos
            = new FileOutputStream("abc.ser");
 
        ObjectOutputStream oos
            = new ObjectOutputStream(fos);
 
        oos.writeObject(t1);
 
        // Deserlization
        FileInputStream fis
            = new FileInputStream("abc.ser");
 
        ObjectInputStream ois = new ObjectInputStream(fis);
 
        ExternalizableDemo t2
            = (ExternalizableDemo)ois.readObject();
 
        // Display message
        System.out.println("Name :"
                           + " " + t2.name + " "
                           + "Age :"
                           + " " + t2.age);
    }
}

 
Output: 

Public no-argument constructor
Name : Ram Age : 35

Now, we are done discussing both of them, let us conclude all the differences in a table for a better reach of understanding.

                          Serializable                                       Externalizable
A serializable interface is used to implement serialization. An externalizable interface used to implement Externalization
Serializable is a marker interface i.e. it does not contain any method.The externalizable interface is not a marker interface and thus it defines two methods writeExternal() and readExternal().
Serializable interface passes the responsibility of serialization to JVM and the programmer has no control over serialization, and it is a default algorithm.The externalizable interface provides all serialization responsibilities to a programmer and hence JVM has no control over serialization.
Serialization using a serializable interface has bad performance.Serialization using an externalizable interface has better performance.
Default serialization does not require any no-arg constructor. A public no-arg constructor is required while using an Externalizable interface.
It is hard to analyze and modify class structure because any change in structure may break serialization.It is relatively easy to analyze and modify class structure because of complete control over serialization logic.
Using a serializable interface we save the total object to a file, and it is not possible to save part of the object.Base on our requirements we can save either the total object or part of the object.
Transient keyword play an important role here.Transient keyword won’t play any role.

 

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