Java Platform, Standard Edition

Java Platform, Standard Edition is a computing platform for development and deployment of portable code for desktop and server environments. Java SE was formerly known as Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition.
The platform uses Java programming language and is part of the Java software-platform family. Java SE defines a range of general-purpose APIs—such as Java APIs for the Java Class Library—and also includes the Java Language Specification and the Java Virtual Machine Specification. OpenJDK is the official reference implementation since version 7.

Nomenclature, standards and specifications

The platform was known as Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition or J2SE from version 1.2, until the name was changed to Java Platform, Standard Edition or Java SE in version 1.5. The "SE" is used to distinguish the base platform from the Enterprise Edition and Micro Edition platforms. The "2" was originally intended to emphasize the major changes introduced in version 1.2, but was removed in version 1.6. The naming convention has been changed several times over the Java version history. Starting with J2SE 1.4, Java SE has been developed under the Java Community Process, which produces descriptions of proposed and final specifications for the Java platform called Java Specification Requests. JSR 59 was the umbrella specification for J2SE 1.4 and JSR 176 specified J2SE 5.0. Java SE 6 was released under JSR 270.
Java Platform, Enterprise Edition is a related specification that includes all the classes in Java SE, plus a number that are more useful to programs that run on servers as opposed to workstations.
Java Platform, Micro Edition is a related specification intended to provide a certified collection of Java APIs for the development of software for small, resource-constrained devices such as cell phones, PDAs and set-top boxes.
The Java Runtime Environment and Java Development Kit are the actual files downloaded and installed on a computer to run or develop Java programs, respectively.

General purpose packages


The Java package contains fundamental classes and interfaces closely tied to the language and runtime system. This includes the root classes that form the class hierarchy, types tied to the language definition, basic exceptions, math functions, threading, security functions, as well as some information on the underlying native system. This package contains 22 of 32 Error classes provided in JDK 6.
The main classes and interfaces in java.lang are:
Classes in java.lang are automatically imported into every source file.


The package provides more flexible types of references than are otherwise available, permitting limited interaction between the application and the Java Virtual Machine garbage collector. It is an important package, central enough to the language for the language designers to give it a name that starts with "java.lang", but it is somewhat special-purpose and not used by a lot of developers. This package was added in J2SE 1.2.
Java has an expressive system of references and allows for special behavior for garbage collection. A normal reference in Java is known as a "strong reference." The java.lang.ref package defines three other types of references—soft, weak, and phantom references. Each type of reference is designed for a specific use.
Each of these reference types extends the class, which provides the method to return a strong reference to the referent object, and the method to clear the reference.
The java.lang.ref also defines the class, which can be used in each of the applications discussed above to keep track of objects that have changed reference type. When a Reference is created it is optionally registered with a reference queue. The application polls the reference queue to get references that have changed reachability state.


is a constituent of the Java API that lets Java code examine and "reflect" on Java components at runtime and use the reflected members. Classes in the package, along with java.lang.Class and accommodate applications such as debuggers, interpreters, object inspectors, class browsers, and services such as object serialization and JavaBeans that need access to either the public members of a target object or the members declared by a given class. This package was added in JDK 1.1.
Reflection is used to instantiate classes and invoke methods using their names, a concept that allows for dynamic programming. Classes, interfaces, methods, fields, and constructors can all be discovered and used at runtime. Reflection is supported by metadata that the JVM has about the program.
There are basic techniques involved in reflection:
Discovery typically starts with an object and calling the method to get the object's Class. The Class object has several methods for discovering the contents of the class, for example:
The Class object can be obtained either through discovery, by using the class literal or by using the name of the class. With a Class object, member Method, Constructor, or Field objects can be obtained using the symbolic name of the member. For example:
Method, Constructor, and Field objects can be used to dynamically access the represented member of the class. For example:
The java.lang.reflect package also provides an class that contains static methods for creating and manipulating array objects, and since J2SE 1.3, a class that supports dynamic creation of proxy classes that implement specified interfaces.
The implementation of a Proxy class is provided by a supplied object that implements the interface. The InvocationHandler's method is called for each method invoked on the proxy object—the first parameter is the proxy object, the second parameter is the Method object representing the method from the interface implemented by the proxy, and the third parameter is the array of parameters passed to the interface method. The invoke method returns an Object result that contains the result returned to the code that called the proxy interface method.

The package contains classes that support input and output. The classes in the package are primarily stream-oriented; however, a class for random access files is also provided. The central classes in the package are and, which are abstract base classes for reading from and writing to byte streams, respectively. The related classes and are abstract base classes for reading from and writing to character streams, respectively. The package also has a few miscellaneous classes to support interactions with the host file system.


The stream classes follow the decorator pattern by extending the base subclass to add features to the stream classes. Subclasses of the base stream classes are typically named for one of the following attributes:
The stream subclasses are named using the naming pattern XxxStreamType where Xxx is the name describing the feature and StreamType is one of InputStream, OutputStream, Reader, or Writer.
The following table shows the sources/destinations supported directly by the package:
Source/DestinationNameStream typesIn/OutClasses
byte array ByteArraybytein, out,
char array CharArraycharin, out,
fileFilebyte, charin, out,,,
string Stringcharin, out,
thread Pipedbyte, charin, out,,,

Other standard library packages provide stream implementations for other destinations, such as the InputStream returned by the method or the Java EE class.
Data type handling and processing or filtering of stream data is accomplished through stream filters. The filter classes all accept another compatible stream object as a parameter to the constructor and decorate the enclosed stream with additional features. Filters are created by extending one of the base filter classes,,, or.
The Reader and Writer classes are really just byte streams with additional processing performed on the data stream to convert the bytes to characters. They use the default character encoding for the platform, which as of J2SE 5.0 is represented by the returned by the static method. The class converts an InputStream to a Reader and the class converts an OutputStream to a Writer. Both these classes have constructors that support specifying the character encoding to use. If no encoding is specified, the program uses the default encoding for the platform.
The following table shows the other processes and filters that the package directly supports. All these classes extend the corresponding Filter class.
OperationNameStream typesIn/OutClasses
bufferingBufferedbyte, charin, out,,,
"push back" last value readPushbackbyte, charin,
read/write primitive typesDatabytein, out,
object serialization Objectbytein, out,

Random access

The class supports random access reading and writing of files. The class uses a file pointer that represents a byte-offset within the file for the next read or write operation. The file pointer is moved implicitly by reading or writing and explicitly by calling the or methods. The current position of the file pointer is returned by the method.

File system

The class represents a file or directory path in a file system. File objects support the creation, deletion and renaming of files and directories and the manipulation of file attributes such as read-only and last modified timestamp. File objects that represent directories can be used to get a list of all the contained files and directories.
The class is a file descriptor that represents a source or sink of bytes. Typically this is a file, but can also be a console or network socket. FileDescriptor objects are used to create File streams. They are obtained from File streams and sockets and datagram sockets.


In J2SE 1.4, the package was added to support memory-mapped I/O, facilitating I/O operations closer to the underlying hardware with sometimes dramatically better performance. The java.nio package provides support for a number of buffer types. The subpackage provides support for different character encodings for character data. The subpackage provides support for channels, which represent connections to entities that are capable of performing I/O operations, such as files and sockets. The java.nio.channels package also provides support for fine-grained locking of files.


The package supports multiprecision arithmetic and provides multiprecision prime number generators used for cryptographic key generation. The main classes of the package are:
The package provides special IO routines for networks, allowing HTTP requests, as well as other common transactions.


The package implements parsing routines for strings and supports various human-readable languages and locale-specific parsing.


s that aggregate objects are the focus of the package. Included in the package is the Collections API, an organized data structure hierarchy influenced heavily by the design patterns considerations.

Special purpose packages


Created to support Java applet creation, the package lets applications be downloaded over a network and run within a guarded sandbox. Security restrictions are easily imposed on the sandbox. A developer, for example, may apply a digital signature to an applet, thereby labeling it as safe. Doing so allows the user to grant the applet permission to perform restricted operations, and removes some or all the sandbox restrictions. Digital certificates are issued by certificate authorities.


Included in the package are various classes for developing and manipulating beans, reusable components defined by the JavaBeans architecture. The architecture provides mechanisms for manipulating properties of components and firing events when those properties change.
The APIs in java.beans are intended for use by a bean editing tool, in which beans can be combined, customized, and manipulated. One type of bean editor is a GUI designer in an integrated development environment.


The, or Abstract Window Toolkit, provides access to a basic set of GUI widgets based on the underlying native platform's widget set, the core of the GUI event subsystem, and the interface between the native windowing system and the Java application. It also provides several basic layout managers, a datatransfer package for use with the Clipboard and Drag and Drop, the interface to input devices such as mice and keyboards, as well as access to the system tray on supporting systems. This package, along with javax.swing contains the largest number of enums in JDK 6.


The package provides Java remote method invocation to support remote procedure calls between two java applications running in different JVMs.

Support for security, including the message digest algorithm, is included in the package.


An implementation of the JDBC API is grouped into the package.


The package provides the support for the remote communication between applications, using the RMI over IIOP protocol. This protocol combines RMI and CORBA features.


is a collection of routines that build on java.awt to provide a platform independent widget toolkit. uses the 2D drawing routines to render the user interface components instead of relying on the underlying native operating system GUI support.
This package contains the largest number of classes in JDK 6. This package, along with java.awt also contains the largest number of enums in JDK 6. It supports pluggable looks and feels so that widgets in the GUI can imitate those from the underlying native system. Design patterns permeate the system, especially a modification of the model-view-controller pattern, which loosens the coupling between function and appearance. One inconsistency is that fonts are drawn by the underlying native system, and not by Java, limiting text portability. Workarounds, such as using bitmap fonts, do exist. In general, "layouts" are used and keep elements within an aesthetically consistent GUI across platforms.


The package provides the error tolerant HTML parser that is used for writing various web browsers and web bots.


The package contains the largest number of Annotation Types in JDK 6. It defines annotations for customizing Java program elements to XML Schema mapping.

OMG packages


The package provides the support for the remote communication between applications using the General Inter-ORB Protocol and supports other features of the common object request broker architecture. Same as RMI and RMI-IIOP, this package is for calling remote methods of objects on other virtual machines.
This package contains the largest number of Exception classes in JDK 6. From all communication possibilities CORBA is portable between various languages; however, with this comes more complexity.
These packages were deprecated in Java 9 and removed from Java 11.


The package contains the largest number of interfaces in JDK 6. It provides a mechanism to register ORB hooks through which ORB services intercept the normal flow of execution of the ORB.


Several critical security vulnerabilities have been reported, the most recent in January 2013. Security alerts from Oracle announce critical security-related patches to Java SE.