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Remote Method Invocation


The network is the computer*

Consider the following program organization:

method call SomeClass
computer 1


returned object
computer 2

If the network is the computer, we ought to be able to put the two classes on different computers RMI is one technology that makes this possible

* For an opposing viewpoint, see

RMI and other technologies

CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) has long been king

CORBA supports object transmission between virtually any languages Objects have to be described in IDL (Interface Definition Language), which looks a lot like C++ data definitions CORBA is complex and flaky

Microsoft supported CORBA, then COM, now .NET RMI is purely Java-specific

Java to Java communications only As a result, RMI is much simpler than CORBA





Network OS

RMI Layers
Java Virtual Machine Client Object Java Virtual Machine Remote Object



Remote Reference Layer

Remote Reference Layer

Transport Layer


Transport Layer

What is needed for RMI

Java makes RMI (Remote Method Invocation) fairly easy, but there are some extra steps To send a message to a remote server object,

The client object has to find the object

Do this by looking it up in a registry

The client object then has to marshal the parameters (prepare them for transmission)

Java requires Serializable parameters The server object has to unmarshal its parameters, do its computation, and marshal its response

The client object has to unmarshal the response


Much of this is done for you by special software


A remote object is an object on another computer The client object is the object making the request (sending a message to the other object) The server object is the object receiving the request As usual, client and server can easily trade roles (each can make requests of the other) The rmiregistry is a special server that looks up objects by name

Hopefully, the name is unique!

rmic is a special compiler for creating stub (client) and skeleton (server) classes


For RMI, you need to be running three processes

The Client The Server The Object Registry, rmiregistry, which is like a DNS service for objects

You also need TCP/IP active

RMI System Architecture

Client Virtual Machine Client Server Virtual Machine Remote Object


Skeleton Server

Fred Registry Virtual Machine

RMI Flow
1. Server Creates Remote Object Client Virtual Machine 2. Server Registers Remote Object Client Server Virtual Machine Remote Object


Skeleton Server

Fred Registry Virtual Machine

RMI Flow
Client Virtual Machine Client Server Virtual Machine Remote 3. Client requests object from Registry Object 4. Registry returns remote reference (and stub gets created) Stub
3 4

Skeleton Server

Fred Registry Virtual Machine

RMI Flow
Client Virtual Machine Client
5 6 7

Server Virtual Machine Remote Object


Skeleton Server

5. Client invokes stub method 6. Stub talks to skeleton 7. Skeleton invokes remote object Fred method Registry Virtual Machine


Interfaces define behavior Classes define implementation Therefore,

In order to use a remote object, the client must know its behavior (interface), but does not need to know its implementation (class) In order to provide an object, the server must know both its interface (behavior) and its class (implementation) The interface must be available to both client and server The class should only be on the server

In short,


A Remote class is one whose instances can be accessed remotely

On the computer where it is defined, instances of this class can be accessed just like any other object On other computers, the remote object can be accessed via object handles

A Serializable class is one whose instances can be marshaled (turned into a linear sequence of bits)

Serializable objects can be transmitted from one computer to another

It probably isnt a good idea for an object to be both remote and serializable


Conditions for serializability

If an object is to be serialized:

The class must be declared as public The class must implement Serializable The class must have a no-argument constructor All fields of the class must be serializable: either primitive types or serializable objects


Remote interfaces and class

A Remote class has two parts:

The interface (used by both client and server):

Must be public Must extend the interface java.rmi.Remote Every method in the interface must declare that it throws java.rmi.RemoteException (other exceptions may also be thrown) Must implement a Remote interface Should extend java.rmi.server.UnicastRemoteObject May have locally accessible methods that are not in its Remote interface

The class itself (used only by the server):

Remote vs. Serializable

A Remote object lives on another computer (such as the Server)

You can send messages to a Remote object and get responses back from the object All you need to know about the Remote object is its interface Remote objects dont pose much of a security issue

You can transmit a copy of a Serializable object between computers

The receiving object needs to know how the object is implemented; it needs the class as well as the interface There is a way to transmit the class definition Accepting classes does pose a security issue



It isnt safe for the client to use somebody elses code on some random server

Your client program should use a more conservative security manager than the default
System.setSecurityManager(new RMISecurityManager());

Most discussions of RMI assume you should do this on both the client and the server

Unless your server also acts as a client, it isnt really necessary on the server


The server class

The class that defines the server object should extend UnicastRemoteObject

This makes a connection with exactly one other computer If you must extend some other class, you can use exportObject() instead Sun does not provide a MulticastRemoteObject class String url = "rmi://" + host + ":" + port + "/" + objectName;

The server class needs to register its server object:

The default port is 1099

Naming.rebind(url, object);

Every remotely available method must throw a RemoteException (because connections can fail) Every remotely available method should be synchronized

Implementing RMI

Implement RMI server

Create Remote Interface Create a class that implements the remote interface Create stub and skeleton classes Copy Remote interface and stub to client Create and register remote objcet

Implement the RMI client

Call the remote interface by using the lookup() method of the Naming class.


RMI flow - I
Client Virtual Machine

Server Virtual Machine

Remote Object 1




1. Server Creates Remote object. 2. Server Registers Remote object with RMI registry

Registry Virtual Machine Remote Object Registered


RMI flow - II
Client Virtual Machine

Server Virtual Machine

Remote Object

3 4 Registry Virtual Machine Remote Object Registered



3. Client requests object from registry 4. Registry returns remote reference through interface

RMI flow - III

Client Virtual Machine
Client 5

Server Virtual Machine 7 Remote Object 6 Skeleton Server


Registry Virtual Machine Remote Object Registered

5. Client invokes stub method 6. Stub talks to skeleton 7. Skeleton invokes remote object method.


Hello world server: interface

import java.rmi.*; public interface HelloInterface extends Remote { public String say() throws RemoteException; }


Hello world server: class

import java.rmi.*; import java.rmi.server.*; public class Hello extends UnicastRemoteObject implements HelloInterface { private String message; // Strings are serializable public Hello (String msg) throws RemoteException { message = msg; } public String say() throws RemoteException { return message; }

Registering the hello world server

class HelloServer { public static void main (String[] argv) { try { Naming.rebind("rmi://localhost/HelloServer", new Hello("Hello, world!")); System.out.println("Hello Server is ready."); } catch (Exception e) { System.out.println("Hello Server failed: " + e); } } }

The hello world client program

class HelloClient { public static void main (String[] args) { HelloInterface hello; String name = "rmi://localhost/HelloServer"; try { hello = (HelloInterface)Naming.lookup(name); System.out.println(hello.say()); } catch (Exception e) { System.out.println("HelloClient exception: " + e); } } }


The class that implements the remote object should be compiled as usual Then, it should be compiled with rmic:

rmic Hello

This will generate files Hello_Stub.class and Hello_Skel.class These classes do the actual communication

The Stub class must be copied to the client area The Skel was needed in SDK 1.1 but is no longer necessary


Trying RMI

In three different terminal windows:

1. Run the registry program: start rmiregistry 2. Run the server program: java HelloServer 3. Run the client program: java HelloClient

If all goes well, you should get the Hello, World! message

1. 2.

Start the registry server, rmiregistry Start the object server


The object server registers an object, with a name, with the registry server The client looks up the object in the registry server The request actually goes to the Stub class The Stub classes on client and server talk to each other The clients Stub class returns the result


Start the client



The client makes a request

1. 2. 3.

A Simple Client/Server Application Using RMI

Step One: Enter and Compile the Source Code, defines the remote interface that is provided by the server.

import java.rmi.*; public interface AddServerIntf extends Remote { double add(double d1, double d2) throws RemoteException; }


import java.rmi.*; import java.rmi.server.*; public class AddServerImpl extends UnicastRemoteObject implements AddServerIntf { public AddServerImpl() throws RemoteException { } public double add(double d1, double d2) throws RemoteException { return d1 + d2; } }


import*; import java.rmi.*; public class AddServer { public static void main(String args[]) { try { AddServerImpl addServerImpl = new AddServerImpl(); Naming.rebind("AddServer", addServerImpl); } catch(Exception e) { System.out.println("Exception: " + e); } } }


import java.rmi.*; public class AddClient { public static void main(String args[]) { try { String addServerURL = "rmi://" + args[0] + "/AddServer"; AddServerIntf addServerIntf = (AddServerIntf)Naming.lookup(addServerURL); System.out.println("The first number is: " + args[1]); double d1 = Double.valueOf(args[1]).doubleValue(); System.out.println("The second number is: " + args[2]); double d2 = Double.valueOf(args[2]).doubleValue(); System.out.println("The sum is: " + addServerIntf.add(d1, d2)); } catch(Exception e) { System.out.println("Exception: " + e); }}}

Step Two: Generate Stubs and Skeletons

a stub is a Java object that resides on the client machine. Its function is to present the same interfaces as the remote server. A skeleton is a Java object that resides on the server machine. It works with the other parts of the 1.1 RMI system to receive requests, perform deserialization, and invoke the appropriate code on the server.

rmic AddServerImpl


Step Three: Install Files on the Client and Server Machines

Copy AddClient.class, AddServerImpl_Stub.class, and AddServerIntf.class to a directory on the client machine Copy AddServerIntf.class, AddServerImpl.class, AddServerImpl_Skel.class, AddServerImpl_Stub.class, and AddServer.class to a directory on the server machine.


Step Four: Start the RMI Registry on the Server Machine

start rmiregistry

When this command returns, you should see that a new window has been created.


Step Five: Start the Server

java AddServer

Recall that the AddServer code instantiates AddServerImpl and registers that object with the name AddServer.


Step Six: Start the Client

The AddClient software requires three arguments: the name or IP address of the server machine and the two numbers that are to be summed together. java AddClient 8 9

The first number is: 8 The second number is: 9 The sum is: 17.0


The End