Although in last our projects we're using more Java and XSLT, we always compare Java and .NET features. It's not a secret that in most applications we may find cache solutions used to improve performance. Unlike .NET providing a robust cache solution Java doesn't provide anything standard. Of course Java's adept may find a lot of caching frameworks or just to say: "use HashMap (ArrayList etc.) instead", but this is not the same.
Think about options for Java:
1. Caching frameworks (caching systems). Yes, they do their work. Do it perfectly. Some of them are brought to the state of the art, but there are drawbacks. The crucial one is that for simple data caching one should use a whole framework. This option requires too many efforts to solve a simple problem.
2. Collection classes (HashMap, ArrayList etc.) for caching data. This is very straightforward solution, and very productive. Everyone knows these classes, nothing to configure. One should declare an instance of such class, take care of data access synchronization and everything starts working immediately. An admirable caching solution but for "toy applications", since it solves one problem and introduces another one. If an application works for hours and there are a lot of data
to cache, the amount of data grows only and never reduces, so this is the reason why such caching is very quickly surrounded with all sort of rules that somehow reduce its size at run-time. The solution very quickly lost its shine and become not portable, but it's still applicable for some applications.
3. Using Java reference objects for caching data. The most appropriate for cache solution is a java.util.WeekHashMap class. WeakHashMap works exactly like a hash table but uses weak references internally. In practice, entries in the WeakHashMap are reclaimed at any time if they are not refered outside of map. This caching strategy
depends on GC's whims and is not entirely reliable, may increase a number of cache misses.
We've decided to create our simple cache with sliding expiration of data.
One may create many cache instances but there is only one global service that tracks expired objects among these instances:
private Cache<String, Object> cache = new Cache<String, Object>();
There is a constructor that specifies an expiration interval in milliseconds for all cached objects:
private Cache<String, Object> cache = new Cache<String, Object>(15 * 60 * 1000)
Access is similar to HashMap:
instance = cache.get("key"); and cache.put("key", instance);
instance = cache.get("key");
That's all one should know to start use it. Click here to download the Java source of this class. Feel free to use it in your applications.
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