Chapter 3: JNI Types and Data Structures

This chapter discusses how the JNI maps Java types to native C types.

This chapter covers the following topics:

Primitive Types

The following table describes Java primitive types and their machine-dependent native equivalents.

Primitive Types and Native Equivalents
Java Type Native Type Description
boolean jboolean unsigned 8 bits
byte jbyte signed 8 bits
char jchar unsigned 16 bits
short jshort signed 16 bits
int jint signed 32 bits
long jlong signed 64 bits
float jfloat 32 bits
double jdouble 64 bits
void void not applicable

The following definition is provided for convenience.

#define JNI_FALSE  0
#define JNI_TRUE   1

The jsize integer type is used to describe cardinal indices and sizes:

typedef jint jsize;

Reference Types

The JNI includes a number of reference types that correspond to different kinds of Java objects. JNI reference types are organized in the following hierarchy:

In C, all other JNI reference types are defined to be the same as jobject. For example:

typedef jobject jclass;

In C++, JNI introduces a set of dummy classes to enforce the subtyping relationship. For example:

class _jobject {};
class _jclass : public _jobject {};
// ...
typedef _jobject *jobject;
typedef _jclass *jclass;

Field and Method IDs

Method and field IDs are regular C pointer types:

struct _jfieldID;              /* opaque structure */
typedef struct _jfieldID *jfieldID;   /* field IDs */

struct _jmethodID;              /* opaque structure */
typedef struct _jmethodID *jmethodID; /* method IDs */

The Value Type

The jvalue union type is used as the element type in argument arrays. It is declared as follows:

typedef union jvalue {
    jboolean z;
    jbyte    b;
    jchar    c;
    jshort   s;
    jint     i;
    jlong    j;
    jfloat   f;
    jdouble  d;
    jobject  l;
} jvalue;

Type Signatures

The JNI uses the Java VM’s representation of type signatures. The following table shows these type signatures.

Java VM Type Signatures
Type Signature Java Type
Z boolean
B byte
C char
S short
I int
J long
F float
D double
L fully-qualified-class ; fully-qualified-class
[ type type[]
( arg-types ) ret-type method type

For example, the Java method:

long f (int n, String s, int[] arr);

has the following type signature:


Modified UTF-8 Strings

The JNI uses modified UTF-8 strings to represent various string types. Modified UTF-8 strings are the same as those used by the Java VM. Modified UTF-8 strings are encoded so that character sequences that contain only non-null ASCII characters can be represented using only one byte per character, but all Unicode characters can be represented.

All characters in the range \u0001 to \u007F are represented by a single byte, as follows:

The seven bits of data in the byte give the value of the character represented.

The null character ('\u0000') and characters in the range '\u0080' to '\u07FF' are represented by a pair of bytes x and y:

The bytes represent the character with the value ((x & 0x1f) << 6) + (y & 0x3f).

Characters in the range '\u0800' to '\uFFFF' are represented by 3 bytes x, y, and z:

The character with the value ((x & 0xf) << 12) + ((y & 0x3f) << 6) + (z & 0x3f) is represented by the bytes.

Characters with code points above U+FFFF (so-called supplementary characters) are represented by separately encoding the two surrogate code units of their UTF-16 representation. Each of the surrogate code units is represented by three bytes. This means, supplementary characters are represented by six bytes, u, v, w, x, y, and z:

The character with the value 0x10000+((v&0x0f)<<16)+((w&0x3f)<<10)+(y&0x0f)<<6)+(z&0x3f) is represented by the six bytes.

The bytes of multibyte characters are stored in the class file in big-endian (high byte first) order.

There are two differences between this format and the standard UTF-8 format. First, the null character (char)0 is encoded using the two-byte format rather than the one-byte format. This means that modified UTF-8 strings never have embedded nulls. Second, only the one-byte, two-byte, and three-byte formats of standard UTF-8 are used. The Java VM does not recognize the four-byte format of standard UTF-8; it uses its own two-times-three-byte format instead.

For more information regarding the standard UTF-8 format, see section 3.9 Unicode Encoding Forms of The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0.