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Second USENIX Conference on Object-Oriented Technologies (COOTS), 1996

Pickling State in the Java(tm) System

Roger Riggs, Jim Waldo, and Ann Wollrath
Sun Microsystems, Inc.


The Java(tm) system (hereafter referred to simply as "Java") inherently supports the transmission of stateless computation in the form of object classes. In this paper, we address the related task of capturing the state of a Java object in a serilized form for the purposes of transmission or storage, to be used later in reconstituting an equivalent object. This is accomplished by a mechanism known as pickling.

Pickling is the process of creating a serialized representation of objects. Pickling defines the serialized form to include meta information that identifies the type of each object and the relationships between objects within a stream. Values and types are serialized with enough information to inisure that the equivalent typed object and the objects to which it refers can be recreated. Unpickling is the complementary process of recreating objects from the serialized representation.

Pickling and unpickling extract from the Java Virtual machine, at runtime, any meta information needed to pickle the fields of objects. Class specific methods are only required to customize the pickling process.

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