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Remote Method Invocation (RMI)

A Simple Client/Server Application Using RMI

Remote Method Invocation (RMI)

Remote Method Invocation (RMI) allows a Java object that executes on one machine to invoke a method of a Java object that executes on another machine. This is an important feature, because it allows you to build distributed applications. While a complete discussion of RMI is outside the scope of this book, the following simplified example describes the basic principles involved.

A Simple Client/Server Application Using RMI


This section provides step-by-step directions for building a simple client/server application by using RMI. The server receives a request from a client, processes it, and returns a result. In this example, the request specifies two numbers. The server adds these together and returns the sum.


Step One: Enter and Compile the Source Code


This application uses four source files. The first file, AddServerIntf.java, defines the remote interface that is provided by the server. It contains one method that accepts two double arguments and returns their sum. All remote interfaces must extend the Remote interface, which is part of java.rmi. Remote defines no members. Its purpose is simply to indicate that an interface uses remote methods. All remote methods can throw a RemoteException.


import java.rmi.*;


public interface AddServerIntf extends Remote {


double add(double d1, double d2) throws RemoteException;




The second source file, AddServerImpl.java, implements the remote interface. The implementation of the add( ) method is straightforward. Remote objects typically extend UnicastRemoteObject, which provides functionality that is needed to make objects available from remote machines.


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;






The third source file, AddServer.java, contains the main program for the server machine. Its primary function is to update the RMI registry on that machine. This is done by using the rebind( ) method of the Naming class (found in java.rmi). That method associates a name with an object reference. The first argument to the rebind( ) method is a string that names the server as "AddServer". Its second argument is a reference to an instance of AddServerImpl.



import java.net.*; 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);







The fourth source file, AddClient.java, implements the client side of this distributed application. AddClient.java requires three command-line arguments. The first is the IP address or name of the server machine. The second and third arguments are the two numbers that are to be summed.


The application begins by forming a string that follows the URL syntax. This URL uses the rmi protocol. The string includes the IP address or name of the server and the string "AddServer". The program then invokes the lookup( ) method of the Naming class. This method accepts one argument, the rmi URL, and returns a reference to an object of type AddServerIntf. All remote method invocations can then be directed to this object.


The program continues by displaying its arguments and then invokes the remote add( ) method. The sum is returned from this method and is then printed.


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);







After you enter all the code, use javac to compile the four source files that you created.


Step Two: Manually Generate a Stub if Required


In the context of RMI, a stub is a Java object that resides on the client machine. Its function is to present the same interfaces as the remote server. Remote method calls initiated by the client are actually directed to the stub. The stub works with the other parts of the RMI system to formulate a request that is sent to the remote machine.

A remote method may accept arguments that are simple types or objects. In the latter case, the object may have references to other objects. All of this information must be sent to the remote machine. That is, an object passed as an argument to a remote method call must be serialized and sent to the remote machine. Recall from Chapter 20 that the serialization facilities also recursively process all referenced objects.

If a response must be returned to the client, the process works in reverse. Note that the serialization and deserialization facilities are also used if objects are returned to a client.


Prior to Java 5, stubs needed to be built manually by using rmic. This step is not required for modern versions of Java. However, if you are working in a legacy environment, then you can use the rmic compiler, as shown here, to build a stub:


rmic AddServerImpl


This command generates the file AddServerImpl_Stub.class. When using rmic, be sure that CLASSPATH is set to include the current directory.


Step Three: Install Files on the Client and Server Machines


Copy AddClient.class, AddServerImpl_Stub.class (if needed), and AddServerIntf.class to a directory on the client machine. Copy AddServerIntf.class, AddServerImpl.class, AddServerImpl_Stub.class (if needed), and AddServer.class to a directory on the server machine.


Step Four: Start the RMI Registry on the Server Machine


The JDK provides a program called rmiregistry, which executes on the server machine. It maps names to object references. First, check that the CLASSPATH environment variable includes the directory in which your files are located. Then, start the RMI Registry from the command line, as shown here:


start rmiregistry


When this command returns, you should see that a new window has been created. You need to leave this window open until you are done experimenting with the RMI example.


Step Five: Start the Server


The server code is started from the command line, as shown here: 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. You may invoke it from the command line by using one of the two formats shown here:


java AddClient server1 8 9 java AddClient 8 9

In the first line, the name of the server is provided. The second line uses its IP address (

You can try this example without actually having a remote server. To do so, simply install all of the programs on the same machine, start rmiregistry, start AddServer, and then execute AddClient using this command line:


java AddClient 8 9


Here, the address is the “loop back” address for the local machine. Using this address allows you to exercise the entire RMI mechanism without actually having to install the server on a remote computer. (If you are using a firewall, then this approach may not work.)

In either case, sample output from this program is shown here:


The first number is: 8


The second number is: 9


The sum is: 17.0


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