I want to know what is the difference between the stream classes and the Reader and Writer classes? In what scenarios are stream classes used and when are reader/writer classes used? Also the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
What I understand from this is that Stream classes can be used to read/write byte data which are in non-text format like zip,jpg,video etc and Reader/Writer classes can be used to read/write text/string data.
Yes, that's generally the right idea. But just to clarify a possible area of confusion: there are many different possible text formats (e.g. ASCII, ISO-8859-1, UTF-8, UTF-16, UCS-2), and Readers/Writers know how to convert all of these text formats to Java characters and strings. In contrast, Streams don't have this encoding/decoding logic built in, so they just return the raw input bytes. Hence you might say that Readers/Writers are "smarter" than Streams.
Originally posted by Kelvin Lim: But just to clarify a possible area of confusion: there are many different possible text formats (e.g. ASCII, ISO-8859-1, UTF-8, UTF-16, UCS-2), and Readers/Writers know how to convert all of these text formats to Java characters and strings.
While this is correct, I think a bit more elaboration about encodings is in order. Readers apply a particular encoding to an InputStream, but they don't know out of the box which encoding is the correct one for a given stream. The InputStreamReader class -which is used for turning an InputStream into a Reader- has two constructors: one takes just the InputStream, and one that takes the encoding in addition to the InputStream. If the encoding is not specified, the platform default encoding is used - which may well be the wrong one to use, especially for data that originates on a different platform.
E.g., a text file written on OS X will by default be encoded with MacRoman, while Windows uses (I think) Cp-1252, and Linux something else entirely. While all these are identical for ASCII data, any use of accented characters (like umlauts) will lead to problems.
The same applies to Writers and OutputStreams.
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