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Chapter: Java The Complete Reference : The Java Library : Networking

InetAddress - Java

The InetAddress class is used to encapsulate both the numerical IP address and the domain name for that address.



The InetAddress class is used to encapsulate both the numerical IP address and the domain name for that address. You interact with this class by using the name of an IP host, which is more convenient and understandable than its IP address. The InetAddress class hides the number inside. InetAddress can handle both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.


Factory Methods


The InetAddress class has no visible constructors. To create an InetAddress object, you have to use one of the available factory methods. Factory methods are merely a convention whereby static methods in a class return an instance of that class. This is done in lieu of overloading a constructor with various parameter lists when having unique method names makes the results much clearer. Three commonly used InetAddress factory methods are shown here:


static InetAddress getLocalHost( ) throws UnknownHostException


static InetAddress getByName(String hostName) throws UnknownHostException


static InetAddress[ ] getAllByName(String hostName) throws UnknownHostException


The getLocalHost( ) method simply returns the InetAddress object that represents the local host. The getByName( ) method returns an InetAddress for a host name passed to it. If these methods are unable to resolve the host name, they throw an UnknownHostException.

On the Internet, it is common for a single name to be used to represent several machines. In the world of web servers, this is one way to provide some degree of scaling. The getAllByName( ) factory method returns an array of InetAddresses that represent all of the addresses that a particular name resolves to. It will also throw an UnknownHostException if it can’t resolve the name to at least one address.


InetAddress also includes the factory method getByAddress( ), which takes an IP address and returns an InetAddress object. Either an IPv4 or an IPv6 address can be used.

The following example prints the addresses and names of the local machine and two Internet web sites:


// Demonstrate InetAddress.

import java.net.*;


class InetAddressTest




public static void main(String args[]) throws UnknownHostException {

InetAddress Address = InetAddress.getLocalHost();



Address = InetAddress.getByName("www.HerbSchildt.com");




InetAddress SW[] = InetAddress.getAllByName("www.nba.com"); for (int i=0; i<SW.length; i++)








Here is the output produced by this program. (Of course, the output you see may be slightly different.)










Instance Methods


The InetAddress class has several other methods, which can be used on the objects returned by the methods just discussed. Here are some of the more commonly used methods:

boolean equals(Object other) : Returns true if this object has the same Internet address as other.


byte[ ] getAddress( ) : Returns a byte array that represents the object’s IP address in network byte order.


String getHostAddress( ) : Returns a string that represents the host address associated with the InetAddress object.


String getHostName( ) : Returns a string that represents the host name associated with the InetAddress object.


boolean isMulticastAddress( ) : Returns true if this address is a multicast address. Otherwise, it returns false.


String toString( ) : Returns a string that lists the host name and the IP address for convenience.

Internet addresses are looked up in a series of hierarchically cached servers. That means that your local computer might know a particular name-to-IP-address mapping automatically, such as for itself and nearby servers. For other names, it may ask a local DNS server for IP address information. If that server doesn’t have a particular address, it can go to a remote site and ask for it. This can continue all the way up to the root server. This process might take a long time, so it is wise to structure your code so that you cache IP address information locally rather than look it up repeatedly.

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