Programming Tutorials

File example program in Java

By: Priya in Java Tutorials on 2007-09-14  

Although most of the classes defined by operate on streams, the File class does not. It deals directly with files and the file system. That is, the File class does not specify how information is retrieved from or stored in files; it describes the properties of a file itself. A File object is used to obtain or manipulate the information associated with a disk file, such as the permissions, time, date, and directory path, and to navigate subdirectory hierarchies.

Files are a primary source and destination for data within many programs. Although there are severe restrictions on their use within applets for security reasons, files are still a central resource for storing persistent and shared information. A directory in Java is treated simply as a File with one additional property-a list of filenames that can be examined by the list() method.

The following constructors can be used to create File objects:

File(String directoryPath)
File(String directoryPath, String filename)
File(File dirObj, String filename)

Here, directoryPath is the path name of the file, filename is the name of the file, and dirObj is a File object that specifies a directory.

The following example creates three files: f1, f2, and f3. The first File object is constructed with a directory path as the only argument. The second includes two arguments-the path and the filename. The third includes the file path assigned to f1 and a filename; f3 refers to the same file as f2.

File f1 = new File("/");
File f2 = new File("/","autoexec.bat");
File f3 = new File(f1,"autoexec.bat");

Note: Java does the right thing with path separators between UNIX and Windows/DOS conventions. If you use a forward slash (/) on a Windows version of Java, the path will still resolve correctly. Remember, if you are using the Windows/DOS convention of a backslash character (\\), you will need to use its escape sequence (\\\\) within a string. The Java convention is to use the UNIX- and URL-style forward slash for path separators.

File defines many methods that obtain the standard properties of a File object. For example, getName() returns the name of the file, getParent() returns the name of the parent directory, and exists() returns true if the file exists, false if it does not. The File class, however, is not symmetrical. By this, we mean that there are many methods that allow you to examine the properties of a simple file object, but no corresponding function exists to change those attributes. The following example demonstrates several of the File methods:

// Demonstrate File.

class FileDemo {
    static void p(String s) {

    public static void main(String args[]) {
        File f1 = new File("/java/COPYRIGHT");
        p("File Name: " + f1.getName());
        p("Path: " + f1.getPath());
        p("Abs Path: " + f1.getAbsolutePath());
        p("Parent: " + f1.getParent());
        p(f1.exists() ? "exists" : "does not exist");
        p(f1.canWrite() ? "is writeable" : "is not writeable");
        p(f1.canRead() ? "is readable" : "is not readable");
        p("is " + (f1.isDirectory() ? "" : "not" + " a directory"));
        p(f1.isFile() ? "is normal file" : "might be a named pipe");
        p(f1.isAbsolute() ? "is absolute" : "is not absolute");
        p("File last modified: " + f1.lastModified());
        p("File size: " + f1.length() + " Bytes");

When you run this program, you will see something similar to the following:

Path: /java/COPYRIGHT
Abs Path: /java/COPYRIGHT
Parent: /java
is writeable
is readable
is not a directory
is normal file
is absolute
File last modified: 812465204000
File size: 695 Bytes

Most of the File methods are self-explanatory. isFile() and isAbsolute() are not. isFile() returns true if called on a file and false if called on a directory. Also, isFile() returns false for some special files, such as device drivers and named pipes, so this method can be used to make sure the file will behave as a file. The isAbsolute() method returns true if the file has an absolute path and false if its path is relative.

File also includes two useful utility methods. The first is renameTo(), shown here:

boolean renameTo(File newName)

Here, the filename specified by newName becomes the new name of the invoking File object. It will return true upon success and false if the file cannot be renamed (if you either attempt to rename a file so that it moves from one directory to another or use an existing filename, for example).

The second utility method is delete(), which deletes the disk file represented by the path of the invoking File object. It is shown here:

boolean delete()

You can also use delete() to delete a directory if the directory is empty. delete() returns true if it deletes the file and false if the file cannot be removed.

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