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  1. JDK
  2. JDK-8231977

Discuss serializability of collections



    • Type: CSR
    • Status: Closed
    • Priority: P4
    • Resolution: Approved
    • Fix Version/s: 14
    • Component/s: core-libs
    • Labels:
    • Subcomponent:
    • Compatibility Risk:
    • Compatibility Risk Description:
      Non-normative wording changes only.
    • Interface Kind:
      Java API
    • Scope:



      The collections framework specification lacks a general statement regarding the serializability of collections.


      There's a general convention that collections implementations be serializable, but this isn't discussed anywhere. None of the interfaces implement Serializable, but the publicly named implementation classes do implement Serializable. This isn't a guarantee that such a collection actually is serializable, though, because its contents might not be serializable. Some text that clarifies the situation should be added.


      Add the text below to the class specification of java.util.Collection.


      --- a/src/java.base/share/classes/java/util/Collection.java Thu Oct 03 23:13:28 2019 -0700
      +++ b/src/java.base/share/classes/java/util/Collection.java Mon Oct 07 15:19:21 2019 -0700
      @@ -188,6 +188,38 @@
        * or if the only reference to the backing collection is through an
        * unmodifiable view, the view can be considered effectively immutable.
      + * <h2><a id="serializable">Serializability of Collections</a></h2>
      + *
      + * <p>Serializability of collections is optional. As such, none of the collections
      + * interfaces are declared to implement the {@link java.io.Serializable} interface.
      + * However, serializability is regarded as being generally useful, so most collection
      + * implementations are serializable.
      + * <p>The collection implementations that are public classes (such as {@code ArrayList}
      + * or {@code HashMap}) are declared to implement the {@code Serializable} interface if they
      + * are in fact serializable. Some collections implementations are not public classes,
      + * such as the <a href="#unmodifiable">unmodifiable collections.</a> In such cases, the
      + * serializability of such collections is described in the specification of the method
      + * that creates them, or in some other suitable place. In cases where the serializability
      + * of a collection is not specified, there is no guarantee about the serializability of such
      + * collections. In particular, many <a href="#view">view collections</a> are not serializable.
      + *
      + * <p>A collection implementation that implements the {@code Serializable} interface cannot
      + * be guaranteed to be serializable. The reason is that in general, collections
      + * contain elements of other types, and it is not possible to determine statically
      + * whether instances of some element type are actually serializable. For example, consider
      + * a serializable {@code Collection<E>}, where {@code E} does not implement the
      + * {@code Serializable} interface. The collection may be serializable, if it contains only
      + * elements of some serializable subtype of {@code E}, or if it is empty. Collections are
      + * thus said to be <i>conditionally serializable,</i> as the serializability of the collection
      + * as a whole depends on whether the collection itself is serializable and on whether all
      + * contained elements are also serializable.
      + *
      + * <p>An additional case occurs with instances of {@link SortedSet} and {@link SortedMap}.
      + * These collections can be created with a {@link Comparator} that imposes an ordering on
      + * the set elements or map keys. Such a collection is serializable only if the provided
      + * {@code Comparator} is also serializable.
      + *
        * <p>This interface is a member of the
        * <a href="{@docRoot}/java.base/java/util/package-summary.html#CollectionsFramework">
        * Java Collections Framework</a>.


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              smarks Stuart Marks
              darcy Joe Darcy
              Reviewed By:
              Chris Hegarty, Joe Darcy
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