How to read Input and Output Core Java

  • StringBuilder insert(int offset, char c)
    inserts a code unit at position offset and returns this.
  • StringBuilder delete(int startIndex, int endIndex)
    deletes the code units with offsets startIndex to endIndex - 1 and returns this.
  • String toString()
    returns a string with the same data as the builder or buffer contents.

Input and Output

To make our example programs more interesting, we want to accept input and properly format the program output. Of course, modern programs use a GUI for collecting user input. However, programming such an interface requires more tools and techniques than we have at our disposal at this time. Because the first order of business is to become more familiar with the Java programming language, we make do with the humble console for input and output for now.

Reading Input

You saw that it is easy to print output to the “standard output stream” (that is, the console window) just by calling System.out.println. Reading from the “standard input stream” isn’t quite as simple. To read console input, you first construct a Scanner that is attached to

Now you use the various methods of the Scanner class to read input. For example, the nextLine method reads a line of input.

Here, we use the nextLine method because the input might contain spaces. To read a single word (delimited by whitespace), call

Similarly, the nextDouble method reads the next floating-point number.
The program in Listing below asks for the user’s name and age and then prints a message like

at the beginning of the program. The Scanner class is defined in the java.util package.

Whenever you use a class that is not defined in the basic java.lang package, you need to use an import directive.

NOTE: The Scanner class is not suitable for reading a password from a console since the input is plainly visible to anyone. Java SE 6 introduces a Console class specifically for this purpose. To read a password, use the following code:

For security reasons, the password is returned in an array of characters rather than a string. After you are done processing the password, you should immediately overwrite the array elements with a filler value. (Array processing.

Input processing with a Console object is not as convenient as with a Scanner. You can onlyread a line of input at a time. There are no methods for reading individual words or numbers.

API java.util.Scanner 5.0

  • Scanner(InputStream in)
    constructs a Scanner object from the given input stream.
  • String nextLine()
    reads the next line of input.5
  • String next()
    reads the next word of input (delimited by whitespace).
  • int nextInt()
  • double nextDouble()
    reads and converts the next character sequence that represents an integer or floating-point number.
  • boolean hasNext()
    tests whether there is another word in the input.
  • boolean hasNextInt()
  • boolean hasNextDouble()
    tests whether the next character sequence represents an integer or floating-point number.

API java.lang.system 1.0

  • static Console console() 6
    returns a Console object for interacting with the user through a console window ifsuch an interaction is possible, null otherwise. A Console object is available for anyprogram that is launched in a console window. Otherwise, the availability is system-dependent.


  • static char[] readPassword(String prompt, Object... args)
  • static String readLine(String prompt, Object... args)
    displays the prompt and reads the user input until the end of the input line. The args parameters can be used to supply formatting arguments, as described in the next section.

Formatting Output

You can print a number x to the console with the statement System.out.print(x). That command will print x with the maximum number of non-zero digits for that type. For example,

prints 3333.3333333333335

That is a problem if you want to display, for example, dollars and cents. In early versions of Java, formatting numbers was a bit of a hassle. Fortunately, Java SE 5.0 brought back the venerable printf method from the C library. For example, the call

prints x with a field width of 8 characters and a precision of 2 characters. That is, the printout contains a leading space and the seven characters
You can supply multiple parameters to printf. For example:

Each of the format specifiers that start with a % character is replaced with the corresponding argument. The conversion character that ends a format specifier indicates the type of the value to be formatted: f is a floating-point number, s a string, and d a decimal integer. Table below shows all conversion characters.

Conversions for printf

Conversions for printf

In addition, you can specify flags that control the appearance of the formatted output.

Table below shows all flags. For example, the comma flag adds group separators. That is,

prints 3,333.33

You can use multiple flags, for example, "%,(.2f", to use group separators and enclose negative numbers in parentheses.

Flags for printf

Flags for printf

NOTE: You can use the s conversion to format arbitrary objects. If an arbitrary object implements the Formattable interface, the object’s formatTo method is invoked. Otherwise, the toString method is invoked to turn the object into a string.

You can use the static String.format method to create a formatted string without printingit:

Although we do not describe the Date type in detail, we do, in the interest of completeness, briefly discuss the date and time formatting options of the printfmethod. You use a two-letter format, starting with t and ending in one of the letters of Table below. For example,

prints the current date and time in the format Mon Feb 09 18:05:19 PST 2004

Date and Time Conversion Characters

Date and Time Conversion Characters

Date and Time Conversion Characters

As you can see in Table above, some of the formats yield only a part of a given date, for example, just the day or just the month. It would be a bit silly if you had to supply the date multiple times to format each part. For that reason, a format string can indicate the index of the argument to be formatted. The index must immediately follow the %, and it must be terminated by a $. For example,

prints Due date: February 9, 2004

Alternatively, you can use the <flag. It indicates that the same argument as in the preceding format specification should be used again. That is, the statement

yields the same output as the preceding statement.

CAUTION: Argument index values start with 1, not with 0: %1$...formats the first argument. This avoids confusion with the 0 flag.

You have now seen all features of the printf method. a syntax diagramfor format specifiers.

Format specifier syntax

Format specifier syntax

NOTE: A number of the formatting rules are locale specific. For example, in Germany, the decimal separator is a period, not a comma, and Monday is formatted as Montag. You will see in Volume II how to control the international behavior of your applications.

File Input and Output

To read from a file, construct a Scanner object from a File object, like this:

If the file name contains backslashes, remember to escape each of them with an additional backslash:

Now you can read from the file, using any of the Scanner methods that we already described.

To write to a file, construct a PrintWriter object. In the constructor, simply supply the file name:

If the file does not exist, you can simply use the print, println, and printf commands asyou did when printing to System.out.

CAUTION: You can construct a Scanner with a string parameter, but the scanner interprets the string as data, not a file name. For example, if you call

then the scanner will see ten characters of data: 'm', 'y','f', and so on. That is probably not what was intended in this case.

NOTE: When you specify a relative file name, such as "myfile .txt", "mydirectory /myfile .txt", or "../myfile .txt", the file is located relative to the directory in which the Java virtual machine was started. If you launched your program from a command shell, by executing

java MyProg

then the starting directory is the current directory of the command shell. However, if you use an integrated development environment, the starting directory is controlled by the IDE. You can find the directory location with this call:

If you run into grief with locating files, consider using absolute path names such as

As you just saw, you can access files just as easily as you can use and System.out. There is just one catch: If you construct a Scanner with a file that does not exist or a Print-Writer with a file name that cannot be created, an exception occurs. The Java compiler considers these exceptions to be more serious than a “divide by zero” exception, for example.Later, you will learn various ways for handing exceptions. For now, you should simply tell the compiler that you are aware of the possibility of a “file not found” exception. You do this by tagging the main method with a throws clause, like this:

You have now seen how to read and write files that contain textual data.

NOTE: When you launch a program from a command shell, you can use the redirection syntax of your shell and attach any file to and System.out:

Then, you need not worry about handling the File Not Found Exception.

APIjava.util.Scanner 5.0

    • Scanner(File f)
      constructs a Scanner that reads data from the given file.
    • Scanner(String data)
      constructs a Scanner that reads data from the given string.

API 1.1

    • PrintWriter(File f)
      constructs a PrintWriter that writes data to the given file.
    • PrintWriter(String fileName)
      constructs a PrintWriter that writes data to the file with the given file name.

API 1.0

    • File(String fileName)
      constructs a File object that describes a file with the given name. Note that the fileneed not currently exist.

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Core Java Topics