Externalizable interface in Java
Externalization serves the purpose of custom Serialization, where we can decide what to store in stream.
Externalizable interface present in java.io, is used for Externalization which extends Serializable interface. It consist of two methods which we have to override to write/read object into/from stream which are-
// to read object from stream void readExternal(ObjectInput in) // to write object into stream void writeExternal(ObjectOutput out)
Key differences between Serializable and Externalizable
- Implementation : Unlike Serializable interface which will serialize the variables in object with just by implementing interface, here we have to explicitly mention what fields or variables you want to serialize.
- Methods : Serializable is marker interface without any methods. Externalizable interface contains two methods: writeExternal() and readExternal().
- Process: Default Serialization process will take place for classes implementing Serializable interface. Programmer defined Serialization process for classes implementing Externalizable interface.
- Backward Compatibility and Control: If you have to support multiple versions, you can have full control with Externalizable interface. You can support different versions of your object. If you implement Externalizable, it’s your responsibility to serialize super class.
- public No-arg constructor: Serializable uses reflection to construct object and does not require no arg constructor. But Externalizable requires public no-arg constructor.
Below is the example for Externalization-
Default Constructor called The original car is: Name: Shubham Year: 1995 Age: 10 The new car is: Name: Shubham Year: 1995 Age: 10
In the example, the class Car has two methods- writeExternal and readExternal. So, when we write “Car” object to OutputStream, writeExternal method is called to persist the data. The same applies to the readExternal method.
When an Externalizable object is reconstructed, an instance is created first using the public no-argument constructor, then the readExternal method is called. So, it is mandatory to provide a no-argument constructor.
When an object implements Serializable interface, is serialized or deserialized, no constructor of object is called and hence any initialization which is implemented in constructor can’t be done.
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