Wednesday, March 27, 2013

AtomicFieldUpdater vs. Atomic

Java 1.5 introduced new family of classes (Atomic*FieldUpdater) for atomic updates of object fields with properties similar to Atomic* set of classes and it seems like there is slight confusion about the purpose of these. And that confusion is understood, the reason for their existance is not very obvious. First of all they are no way faster than Atomics, if you look at source, you see that there are lots of access control checks. Then, they are not handy - developer has to write more code, understand new API, etc.

So why would you bother? There are two main use cases when Atomic*FieldUpdater can be considered an an option:

  • There is a field which is mostly read and rarely changed. In that case, volatile field can be used for read access and Atomic*FieldUpdater for ocasional updates. Thought, that optimization is arguable, because there is a good chance that in latest JVMs Atomic*.get() is intrinsic and should not be slower than volatile.
  • Atomics have much higher overhead on memory usage than primitives. In cases when memory is critical Atomic can be replaced with volatile primitive with Atomic*FieldUpdater.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scala: Automatic resourse management

After completing wonderful course by Martin Odesky, I have eventually had a chance to have a little play with Scala and create something more useful than "hello world" app. And even I have had some experience with that language just a few week before, I felt slightly frustrated. I reckon all that is because I become too dull and silly spending too much time with Java :) First surprise was that I realized that this language has a compiler - with Java it almost doesn't exist, you never 'compile' you do 'build', which is very different kind of thing. With Java you always almost curtain that you code is compilable, because modern IDEs (like Intellij) do not give you a chance to leave compilation error in your code. Another surprize is that Scala compiler is deadly slow, I have a good feeling that big project will suffer with it. So, you can say that with Scala it feels like comming back to good old C++ days :)

Ok, that's was introduction, here is some stuff I wrote, and which I almost sure is just another 'bicycle', but was useful for me. After some time with language, I realized that it doesn't have any standard resource-management construction, which probably is good for Scala - language is so flexible that it allows you to build your own without much effort (mostly code is stolen from this post):

  trait Managed[T] {
    def onEnter(): T
    def onExit(t:Throwable = null)
    def attempt(block: => Unit) {
      try { block } finally {}

  def using[T <: Any, R](managed: Managed[T])(block: T => R): R = {
    val resource = managed.onEnter()
    var exception = false
    try {
    } catch  {
      case t:Throwable => {
        exception = true
        throw t
    } finally {
      if (!exception) {

  def using[T <: Any, U <: Any, R] (managed1: Managed[T], managed2: Managed[U]) (block: T => U => R): R = {
    using[T, R](managed1) { r =>
      using[U, R](managed2) { s => block(r)(s) }

  class ManagedClosable[T <: Closeable](closable:T) extends Managed[T] {
    def onEnter(): T = closable
    def onExit(t:Throwable = null) {

  implicit def closable2managed[T <: Closeable](closable:T): Managed[T] = {
    new ManagedClosable(closable)
and the usage looks like this:
  def readLine() {
    using(new BufferedReader(new FileReader("file.txt"))) {
      file => {