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GCJ::Cni::Examples - Examples of how to use GCJ's CNI interface to write Perl Modules in Java


Writing Treaded modules in Java

One benefit of using GCJ is that it takes advantage of POSIX threading. This is nice since Perl's threading model is, shall we say, less than ideal. Now, you could theoretically write a module in C or C++ and and use the standard POSIX library to do your threaded work for you, however, why not take advantage of the nice Threading interface that Java provides to you by default. This may also come in handy if you have a massively threaded Java library that you'd like to call from Perl.

For this example assume that I want to do matrix multiplication, albeit in a very crazy manner. Therefore, I will write a Java class, Matrix, and a method, multiply, which will take another matrix to perform the operation between. Here's the crazy part, for each cell in the resulting matrix I will spawn a new thread, as an internal class, and give it a row and a column from which they will derive the result. I know this is a little wierd but the point is that I'll be spawning a lot of new threads. To multiply two 10x10 matrices we will have to spawn 100 threads (one thread per cell in the resulting 10x10 matrix). Imagine doing this in Perl, then imagine doing it in Java; natively compiled Java. Much faster and a lot less headaches.

The Java Interface/pseudocode is as follows:

  public class Matrix {
    public Matrix ( int numRows, int numCols ) {
      ...Constructor stuff...
    public void set ( int row, int col, int val ) {
      ...set an element...
    public int get ( int row, int col ) {
      ...get an element...
    public Matrix multiply ( Matrix times ) {
      ...set it up...
      for ( int i = 0; i < rows; i++ ) {
        for ( int j = 0; j < times.getCols(); j++ ) {
          //GO NUTS!!!!
          ArrayMultiplier multiplier = new ArrayMultiplier(this, times, result, i, j);
      ...wait for the threads to exit and return the new matrix...
    public int getRows ( ) {
      ...get number of rows...
    public int getCols ( ) {
      ...get number of columns...
    public void print ( ) {
      ...print the matrix to stdout...
    private class ArrayMultiplier extends Thread {
      public ArrayMultiplier ( Matrix a, Matrix b, Matrix result, int row, int col ) {
        ...Construct this bad boy...
      public void run ( ) {
        int sum = 0;
        for ( int i = 0; i < a.getCols(); i++ ) {
          sum += (a.get(row, i) * b.get(i, col));
        result.set(row, col, sum);

Now, we want to call this class from Perl. My perferred manner is through SWIG so that's what we're going to use. However, you do not need to use SWIG, you can use whatever method you prefer when wrapping C++ classes. We begin by creating a C++ header file from our above class. This is done by using GCJ's gcjh utility. First we need to class compile

  gcj -C

Then we go ahead and create the header file:

  gcjh Matrix

Easy enough. We can then extract the interface we want to have available in Perl from the generated header file and from it create a i file to be used as input to SWIG. I usually start by copying my header file to the same named file but with an i extension instead. I then remove all of the grimy C++ gruff, private methods and variables, slap a module directive on it and call it done. It won't always be this easy though. When you're done an interface file for the above class should look something like this:

  %module Matrix;
  typedef int jint;
  class Matrix
    Matrix (jint, jint);
    virtual void set (jint, jint, jint);
    virtual jint get (jint, jint);
    virtual ::Matrix *multiply (::Matrix *);
    virtual jint getRows ();
    virtual jint getCols ();
    virtual void print ();

We then put SWIG to work and generate our C++ wrapper for Perl:

  swig -perl -c++ Matrix.i

After the above command we now will see two new files in our current directory, and Matrix_wrap.cxx; these correspond the module directive we gave in Matrix.i.

At this point all we have left to do is compile, and use.

  gcj -c
  gcc -c -I<perl inc path> -include Matrix.h Matrix_wrap.cxx
  gcc -shared -lgcj -lstdc++ Matrix.o Matrix_wrap.o

A simple Perl file using this module might look something like:

  sub populate_matrix {
    my $matrix = shift;
    for ( my $i = 0; $i < $matrix->getRows(); $i++ ) {
      for ( my $j = 0; $j < $matrix->getCols(); $j++ ) {
        $matrix->set($i, $j, $i * $j);

  use GCJ::Cni;
  use Matrix;
  GCJ::Cni::JvAttachCurrentThread(undef, undef);
  my $matrix = new Matrix::Matrix(10, 10);
  my $matrix2 = new Matrix::Matrix(10, 10);
  $matrix3 = $matrix->multiply($matrix2);

I'll leave it up to the reader to write a Perl module that does the same thing, that is, spawns 100 threads. In my own personal fiddling I found that just spawning that many threads (never mind doing any kind of work) was over 3 time slower in Perl. In this situation we at least get to use our favorite language, Perl, and offload some of the heavy hitting to a language more suited for it.

Where this really comes in handy is when you have an existing multi-threaded Java library that you would like to expose to Perl. You could theoretically natively compile various components of your library and then generate Perl bindings to access it. In this way, you get a little extra speed and efficiency as well as code reuse and binding.

Java RMI from Perl

One nice thing about being able to call Java from Perl is that we get to take advantage of all of the things that Java offers us in the way of distribited applications. In particular, we can take advantage of various ways of calling remote Java objects. As an example we'll write a Perl script that makes calls to a Java RMI server and gets back a bean that it can then read, print, basically do whatever it wants with. More realistically, you would probably return a Collection of objects.

Since this is not about how to write an RMI client/server pair I'll spare you the details, instead it'll suffice to just show you the client side of this equation:

We begin with a Simple Bean; we'll be asking the server for one of these:

  public class SomeBean implements Serializable {
  private String value;
    public SomeBean() {}
    public void setValue ( String _value ) { ...typical setter stuff... }
    public String getValue ( ) { ...typical getter stuff... }

Then, a client to make the RMI call:

  import java.rmi.*;
  public class Client {
    public Client ( ) {}
    public void connect ( ) {
      ...lookup the remote object...
    public SomeBean getBeanFromServer ( ) {
      ...make a call into the remote object

And just for sanity sake here's the Remote Interface we're calling:

  import java.rmi.*;
  public interface HelloInterface extends Remote {
    public SomeBean getMessage() throws RemoteException;

We will also assume that we have defined a Server ( and an implementation to our Remote Interface ( Once again, I've spared you the details of the inplementation and instead only shown the public interface to these classes.

The next step is to compile our client and ready it for Perl.

  gcj -C
  gcjh SomeBean
  gcjh Client

We can then create an i file for SWIG, which might look something like this:

  %module RmiExample
  #include "SomeBean.h"
  #include "Client.h"
  %typemap(out) jstring {
    ...convert Java Strings to Perl scalars...
  %typemap(in) jstring {
    ...convert Perl scalar to Java String...
  class Client
    Client ();
    virtual void connect ();
    virtual SomeBean *getBeanFromServer ();
  class SomeBean
    SomeBean ();
    virtual void setValue (jstring);
    virtual jstring getValue () { return value; }

Notice the typemap directive, this is used to convert between Java and Perl strings so I don't have to wrap the String class. We then get to work compiling and using our Java class:

  gcj -c
  swig -perl -c++ RmiExample.i
  gcc -c -I <perl inc path> -include gcj/cni.h RmiExample_wrap.cxx
  grmic Hello
  gcc -shared -lgcj -lstdc++ *.o

And finally we can use our new Module:

  use RmiExample;
  use GCJ::Cni;
  GCJ::Cni::JvAttachCurrentThread(undef, undef);
  my $example = new RmiExample::Client();
  my $bean = $example->getBeanFromServer();
  print $bean->getValue() . "\n";

  $bean->DISOWN() if $bean;
  $example->DISOWN() if $example;

This was a rather trivial example, however, imagine you had to talk to a third party system over via RMI calls such as these and interface it with your own Perl system. Well, you may write a Java library that talks to the RMI server and gets Objects from the server, then, does some hardcore processing on them, in Java of course, and packages the results into something your Perl system understands how to use. Maybe you're importing data from one system to another during a nightly load, or you're gathering statistics from a vendor's app, whatever it is, you can easily pull data from a Java system and use it in your Perl system.

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