Input / output flow: End of flow?

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I was always wondering: What is the end of a stream?

In the javadoc of most readLine methods in the java.io package, you can read that "this returns null if the end of the stream is reached" - though I never actually got a null, as most streams (in the case of a network stream that I use most often) just block the program execution until something is written into the stream on the remote end

Are there ways to enforce this acutal behavior happening in an actual non-exception throwing way? I am simply curious ...


Think of a file being read. There is an end of stream there, the end of the file. If you try to read beyond that, you simply can't. If you have a network connection though, there doesn't need to be an end of stream if you simply wait for more data to be sent.

In the case of the file, we know for a fact that there is no more data to be read. In the case of a network stream we (usually) don't.

Blocking a FileReader when no more data is available, awakening when there is: the simple answer is: you can't. The fundamental difference is that you read a file actively, but when you listen to a network stream you read passively. When something comes from the network your hardware sends a short of signal to the Operating System, which then gives the new data to your JVM, and the JVM then awakens your process to read the new data (so to speak). But we don't have that with a file, at least not immediately.

A possible workaround would be to make a wrapper to the StreamReader you have, with a listener that is notified when the file is changed, which then awakens you to read further. In Java 7 you can use the WatchService.