A node in a hierarchical collection of preference data. This class allows applications to store and retrieve user and system preference and configuration data. This data is stored persistently in an implementation-dependent backing store. Typical implementations include flat files, OS-specific registries, directory servers and SQL databases. The user of this class needn't be concerned with details of the backing store.
There are two separate trees of preference nodes, one for user preferences and one for system preferences. Each user has a separate user preference tree, and all users in a given system share the same system preference tree. The precise description of "user" and "system" will vary from implementation to implementation. Typical information stored in the user preference tree might include font choice, color choice, or preferred window location and size for a particular application. Typical information stored in the system preference tree might include installation configuration data for an application.
Nodes in a preference tree are named in a similar fashion to directories in a hierarchical file system. Every node in a preference tree has a node name (which is not necessarily unique), a unique absolute path name , and a path name relative to each ancestor including itself.
The root node has a node name of the empty string (""). Every other node has an arbitrary node name, specified at the time it is created. The only restrictions on this name are that it cannot be the empty string, and it cannot contain the slash character ('/').
The root node has an absolute path name of
"/". Children of the root node have absolute path names of
"/" + <node name> . All other nodes have absolute path names of <parent's absolute path name>
+ "/" + <node name> . Note that all absolute path names begin with the slash character.
A node n's path name relative to its ancestor a is simply the string that must be appended to a's absolute path name in order to form n's absolute path name, with the initial slash character (if present) removed. Note that:
- No relative path names begin with the slash character.
- Every node's path name relative to itself is the empty string.
- Every node's path name relative to its parent is its node name (except for the root node, which does not have a parent).
- Every node's path name relative to the root is its absolute path name with the initial slash character removed.
Note finally that:
- No path name contains multiple consecutive slash characters.
- No path name with the exception of the root's absolute path name ends in the slash character.
- Any string that conforms to these two rules is a valid path name.
All of the methods that modify preferences data are permitted to operate asynchronously; they may return immediately, and changes will eventually propagate to the persistent backing store with an implementation-dependent delay. The
flush method may be used to synchronously force updates to the backing store. Normal termination of the Java Virtual Machine will not result in the loss of pending updates -- an explicit
flush invocation is not required upon termination to ensure that pending updates are made persistent.
All of the methods that read preferences from a
Preferences object require the invoker to provide a default value. The default value is returned if no value has been previously set or if the backing store is unavailable . The intent is to allow applications to operate, albeit with slightly degraded functionality, even if the backing store becomes unavailable. Several methods, like
flush, have semantics that prevent them from operating if the backing store is unavailable. Ordinary applications should have no need to invoke any of these methods, which can be identified by the fact that they are declared to throw
The methods in this class may be invoked concurrently by multiple threads in a single JVM without the need for external synchronization, and the results will be equivalent to some serial execution. If this class is used concurrently by multiple JVMs that store their preference data in the same backing store, the data store will not be corrupted, but no other guarantees are made concerning the consistency of the preference data.
This class contains an export/import facility, allowing preferences to be "exported" to an XML document, and XML documents representing preferences to be "imported" back into the system. This facility may be used to back up all or part of a preference tree, and subsequently restore from the backup.
The XML document has the following DOCTYPE declaration:
<!DOCTYPE preferences SYSTEM "http://java.sun.com/dtd/preferences.dtd">
Note that the system URI (http://java.sun.com/dtd/preferences.dtd) is not
accessed when exporting or importing preferences; it merely serves as a string to uniquely identify the DTD, which is:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- DTD for a Preferences tree. -->
<!-- The preferences element is at the root of an XML document
representing a Preferences tree. -->
<!ELEMENT preferences (root)>
<!-- The preferences element contains an optional version attribute,
which specifies version of DTD. -->
<!ATTLIST preferences EXTERNAL_XML_VERSION CDATA "0.0" >
<!-- The root element has a map representing the root's preferences
(if any), and one node for each child of the root (if any). -->
<!ELEMENT root (map, node*) >
<!-- Additionally, the root contains a type attribute, which
specifies whether it's the system or user root. -->
type (system|user) #REQUIRED >
<!-- Each node has a map representing its preferences (if any),
and one node for each child (if any). -->
<!ELEMENT node (map, node*) >
<!-- Additionally, each node has a name attribute -->
name CDATA #REQUIRED >
<!-- A map represents the preferences stored at a node (if any). -->
<!ELEMENT map (entry*) >
<!-- An entry represents a single preference, which is simply
a key-value pair. -->
<!ELEMENT entry EMPTY >
key CDATA #REQUIRED
value CDATA #REQUIRED >
implementation must have an associated
implementation. Every Java(TM) SE implementation must provide some means of specifying which
implementation is used to generate the root preferences nodes. This allows the administrator to replace the default preferences implementation with an alternative implementation.