Introduction to Nonblocking Sockets

Here, I am going to explain what non-blocking sockets are, how it works, and where it can be useful, everything in details.


Non-blocking sockets are introduced in Java 2 Standard Edition 1.4. It allows network communication between applications without blocking processes using the sockets.

A nonblocking socket allows input/output operation on a channel without blocking the processes using it. I’m talking about asynchronous high-performance read/write operations that, as you will see, turn upside-down the techniques for designing and developing socked-based applications.

Java developers who already working or worked on sockets might ask that, “Why we use a new technology to work on Sockets while we already have an old one that working fine? Or whats wrong with the traditional (Java 1.3.x) socket programming? and What are the advantage with new non-blocking socket API?”

Suppose we are going to implement a server application that accepts huge number of client connections and as well as, we want the server that can be able to process multiple requests simultaneously. If we use older socket programming to achieve this requirement we have two ways:

1. Implement a multithread server that manually handles a thread for each connection.
2. By using an external third-party module.

Both the given solution can work fine, but if we adopt first solution then the whole thread-management solution will be developed by the programmer and all the concurrency related issues will also be considered by the programmer. and the second solution may cost money. And by using Non-blocking sockets, you can implement a nonblocking server without directly managing threads or resorting to external modules.

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