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Java SE 6 documentation


This document describes Java™ SE 6 compatibility with J2SE 5.0 under the following topics:

The compatibility documents listed below track incompatibility between adjacent Java versions. For example, this compatibility page reports only Java SE 6 incompatibilities with J2SE 5.0, and not with previous versions. To examine Java SE 6 incompatibilities with earlier Java versions, you must trace incompatiblities through the files listed below, in order.

See the Java Language Specification Maintenance Page for a summary of changes that have been made to the specification of the Java programming language since the publication of the Java Language Specification, Second Edition .

Binary Compatibility

Java SE 6 is upwards binary-compatible with J2SE 5.0 except for the incompatibilities listed below. Except for the noted incompatibilities, class files built with version 5.0 compilers will run correctly in JDK 6.

Some early bytecode obfuscators produced class files that violated the class file format as given in the virtual machine specification. Such improperly formatted class files will not run on the JDK virtual machine, though some of them could have run on earlier versions of the virtual machine. To remedy this problem, regenerate the class files with a newer obfuscator that produces properly formatted class files.

Source Compatibility

Java SE 6 does not support downward source compatibility. If source files use new language features or Java SE platform APIs, they will not be usable with an earlier version of the Java platform.

In general, the policy is as follows, except for any incompatibilities listed further below:

  • Maintenance releases (such as 1.4.1, 1.4.2) do not introduce any new language features or APIs. They will maintain source-compatibility with each other.

  • Functionality releases and major releases (such as 1.3.0, 1.4.0, 5.0) maintain upwards but not downwards source-compatibility.

Deprecated APIs are interfaces that are supported only for backwards compatibility. The javac compiler generates a warning message whenever one of these is used, unless the -nowarn command-line option is used. It is recommended that programs be modified to eliminate the use of deprecated APIs, although there are no current plans to remove such APIs entirely from the system with the exception of JVMDI and JVMPI.

Some APIs in the sun.* packages have changed. These APIs are not intended for use by developers. Developers importing from sun.* packages do so at their own risk. For more details, see Why Developers Should Not Write Programs That Call sun.* Packages.

Incompatibilities between the Java Platform, Standard Edition 6 and J2SE 5.0

Java SE 6 is strongly compatible with previous versions of the Java platform. Almost all existing programs should run on Java SE 6 without modification. However, there are some minor potential source and binary incompatibilities in the JRE and JDK that involve rare circumstances and "corner cases" that we are documenting here for completeness.

JVMDI was removed and JVMPI was disabled in Java SE 6

JVM™ TI is defined by JSR-163. An implementation was released in J2SE 5.0. JVM™ TI replaces the functionality in JVMDI and JVMPI. JVMDI was deprecated in J2SE 5.0. It has been removed from Java SE 6.

JVMPI was deprecated in J2SE 5.0. It has been disabled in Java SE 6, and it will be removed in the next release.

Java SE 6 includes a new verification scheme and a new class file format to support this scheme

By default the Java compiler, javac, generates class files for the new verification scheme (class file version 50.0). While this new class file version has been designed to be backwards compatible, vendors of byte code manipulation tools should start updating their tools to support the new class file format.

The java.nio.channels.FileLock class checks for files already locked by other FileChannel instances

Java SE 6 throws an OverlappingFileLockException if an application attempts to lock a region that overlaps a region locked through another FileChannel instance. Previous versions did not check for file locks obtained by other FileChannel instances.

By default the java.nio.channels.FileChannel.lock method checks if the requested lock overlaps with a region held by this Java virtual machine.

Java SE 6 has added the system property to control java.nio.channels.FileChannel.lock file checking behavior, as follows:

  • If this system property is set (or is set to some value other than false) then java.nio.channels.FileChannel.lock checks for overlapping file locks obtained using this FileChannel instance only. Locks acquired by other FileChannel instances to the same file are not checked.
  • If this system property is not set (or is set to the value false) then java.nio.channels.FileChannel.lock checks for overlapping file locks from all FileChannel instances, according to the specification.

The system property exists to provide compatibility with J2SE 1.4 and 5.0, which do not implement the JVM-wide overlapping file lock check.

Java SE 6 defaults to the sun.awt.x11.XToolkit on Solaris and other Unix-based platforms

Users can use the MToolkit by setting the awt.toolkit property to sun.awt.motif.MToolkit.

Java SE 6 Properly Rejects Illegal Casts

The cast implementation adheres more closely to the Java Language Specification. In general, this means that javac will accept more programs. However, in some rare cases, javac can now reject previously accepted, yet incorrect programs.

Non class files have been moved from rt.jar in Java SE 6

Java applications that specify -Xbootclasspath:<path to rt.jar> and request any resource files will fail since these resources now reside in a different jar file called resources.jar.

java.beans.EventHandler Enforces Valid Arguments

java.beans.EventHandler Enforces Valid Arguments java.beans.EventHandler documentation more completely describes the following:

  • Currently EventHandler does not enforce valid arguments. The target, action and listenerInterface arguments need to be non-null for it to work correctly. In Java SE 6, The constructor and create methods now check these arguments and immediately throw an IllegalArgumentException if any arguments are null.
  • In Java SE 6, specifying "" for eventPropertyName causes the event to be passed to the target action.
  • In Java SE 6, the specificification now more fully describes eventPropertyName and notes that target/action/listenerInterface needs to be non-null.
  • In Java SE 6, the specification now notes that create and constructor methods can throw an NullPointerException.

These changes force constructor and create to throw a nullPointerException immediately with null target/action, rather than later on. While the exception is now thrown at a different time, the exception is still the same and is thrown at a point where code logic can catch it and appropriately deal with it.

Specifying constraints on SpringLayout was order dependent

SpringLayout specifies three Springs along each axis which dictate the size and position of a component. Only two Springs are needed along each axis, with the third being derived. If three Springs are specified, the layout is considered overly constrained and one of the Springs is dropped. Currently, the behavior for determining which Spring to drop is not intuitive and leads to ordering problems.

In Java SE 6, SpringLayout maintains the order in which springs have been set. As a result, specifying springs is no longer order-dependent. Support for centering and aligning along the baseline has also been added.

Programs affected by this change can contain statements that were redundant in J2SE 5.0.

For example:

constraints.setConstraint("East", eastSpring);   

In J2SE 5.0, the setX call in effect resulted in nothing, in Java SE 6, the setX call is meaningful and different behavior will result.

Double buffering enhancements

Currently, there can be a noticable delay between the time a window is unobscured and the time the window is repainted.

In Java SE 6, Swing provides full double buffering. For each window, Java SE 6 maintains an offscreen buffer that remains in sync with the onscreen window buffer. Any time a window is unobscured, Swing copies from the back buffer directly to the screen. Swing also manages repainting for JWindow, JDialog, JApplet, JFrame and other heavyweight components in the Swing package. New methods have been added to RepaintManager to manage this activity.

Applications which can rely on Swing to do painting on an expose event can be affected. In Java SE 6, Swing classes might not paint an expose event if they can instead refresh the screen from the backbuffer.

Java SE 6 drag behavior is consistent with Microsoft Windows drag behavior

In the current Swing implementation of Drag and Drop, we require users first click on an object to select it, and then to click again on the same object before they can initiate a drag operation. This is not intuitive behavor for users who are used to using a single click to both select an object and then start a drag operation.

Java SE 6 has changed the appropriate Swing Classes to implement the single click drag model. Documentation has been updated for affected components to describe how drag gestures are recognized.

The solution to this problem has required making some small potentially incompatible changes in the implementation of our drag and drop support. Note that none of these incompatibilities will affect components where drag support is turned off, which is the default. Also, these will not affect most users even with drag support turned on.

  • Consolidation of MouseListeners
    Previously, the UIs for drag-enabled components installed two mouse listeners. One listener handled the details of selection changes and the other handled the details of drag gesture recognition. To modify drag-and-drop behavior, these separate pieces of logic required much more communication. The best way to allow a drag gesture to manage a selection change, was to consolidate these two listeners into a single listener.

    Applications affected by this consolidation include the two cases described below:
    • Applications that explicitly assume two mouse listeners exist
    • Applications that implement a custom look-and-feel which replaces the UI installed mouse listeners. If a custom look-and-feel replaces the UI MouseListeners, it will no longer have drag support.
  • JTable and JTree editing semantics

    JTable s and JTree s with drag enabled will now consider editing only after receiving a mouse-released event. Previously, certain press events (such as those not part of a drag gesture) could trigger editing. For consistency, to allow selection changes, and for drag-and-drop to properly occur on the press event; editing can now only start upon the release. With drag disabled, selection will continue to function as it has in the past.
  • JTable and JTree editors and shouldSelectCell()

    Editors for JTable and JTree contain a boolean method called shouldSelectCell(). This method returns whether the current cell should be selected. It is called once editing is started. It also can be used to determine when editing has started, in order to configure the editor. When drag is enabled in a component, a cell MUST be selected before it can be dragged. For this reason, Java SE 6 ignores shouldSelectCell and always selects cells when drag is enabled. However, Java SE 6 still calls shouldSelectCell after it starts editing, for those users expecting it for side-effects. There is no change if drag is disabled.

JDK1_1InitArgs and JDK1_1AttachArgs no longer used

The JDK1_1InitArgs and JDK1_1AttachArgs data structures are no longer used, but were present in the jni.h file and corresponding documentation. JDK1_1AttachArgs has been removed from jni.h and JDK1_1InitArgs has been moved from jni.h to jvm.h where it is used internally.

Password no longer visible in Java SE security tools

The JDK tools keytool, jarsigner, and kinit will no longer echo passwords to the screen. Users will need to enter a password twice when entering a new password or changing an existing password. Scripts that use keytool to either create a new keystore or create a new key in the keystore using a password unique from the keystore password will need to be updated.

jar will preserve file modification dates and times during extract

Files and directories extracted from a jar archive will now have their timestamp set to match the timestamp of the corresponding file/directory in the jar archive. Prior to Java SE 6, files and directories extracted from a jar archive were given the date and time of the extraction. A system property,, is provided so that the Java SE 5.0 and earlier behavior can be obtained. The default value of this property in Java SE is false.

The Duration and XMLGregorianCalendar equals() methods now return false for null parameter

The javax.xml.datatype.Duration.equals() and javax.xml.datatype.XMLGregorianCalendar.equals() methods now return false instead of throwing a NullPointerException for a null parameter.

The double-slash character string ("//") is reserved in JMX ObjectNames

JSR 255 plans to use "//" in the domain part of an as a separator for "cascading". While JSR 255 is not part of Java SE 6, it is recommended that the domain part of an ObjectName not contain the string "//" to avoid future compatibility issues.