Reader Class in Java | Methods, Example

Reader in Java is an abstract class that reads characters from the files. In simple words, the reader class reads character streams.

It is the superclass of all reader subclasses. The concrete class that extends Reader class operates on Unicode character streams.

Java Reader Class declaration

Reader stream class extends Object class and implements Closeable, AutoCloseable, and Readable interfaces. The general syntax to declare Reader stream class in java is as follows:

public abstract class Reader
    extends Object
         implements Readable, Closeable

The most important concrete subclass of the Reader class is InputStreamReader. It contains an underlying input stream from which it reads input in bytes and then converts these bytes into Unicode characters according to the specified encoding.

In addition to InputStreamReader class, package also contains several reader classes that read characters without directly requiring an underlying input stream. They are as follows:

  • FileReader
  • BufferedReader
  • CharArrayReader
  • StringReader
  • PipedReader
  • FilterReader
  • PushbackReader
  • URLReader
  • LineNumberReader

These concrete subclasses of Reader class have very similar functionality as InputStream subclasses, except input streams use bytes as their fundamental unit of information, while reader streams use characters. That is, where an input stream reads a byte, reader stream reads a character.

Field of Reader class

Reader class in Java defines the following field that is protected access modifier.

FieldDoes this
protected Object lockIt is used to synchronize operations on this stream.

Constructors of Reader class

Reader class in Java defines two protected constructors. It does not define any public constructor.

1. protected Reader(): This constructor constructs a new character-stream reader whose critical sections will synchronize on the reader itself.

2. protected Reader​(Object lock): This constructor constructs a new character-stream reader whose critical sections will synchronize on the given object.

Methods of Reader class in Java

Reader class defines the following methods in java, all of which are public. All these methods are identical to methods available in the InputStream class. The most important reader class methods are as follows:

1. abstract void close(): This method closes the stream and releases any system resources associated with it.

2. void mark​(int readAheadLimit): This method marks the present position in the stream.

3. boolean markSupported(): This method tests whether this stream supports the mark() operation. It returns true if the reader supports mark and reset operations.

4. static Reader nullReader(): This method returns a new Reader that reads no characters.

5. int read(): This method reads a single character.

6. int read​(char[ ] characterArray): This method reads an array of characters with data. It returns an int value that represents the number of characters that were read.

If the reader stream is reached at the end, the value of -1 is returned and the array is not modified.

7. abstract int read​(char[ ] characterArray, int n, int length): This method reads a specified number of characters from the underlying input stream into an array starting from nth character.

It returns an int value that represents the actual number of characters that were read. -1 returns if the reader stream reached the end. In simple words, this method reads characters into a part of an array.

8. int read​(CharBuffer target): This read() method was added in Java 5 version. It directly reads characters into the specified character buffer starting at buffer’s current position. It returns the number of characters read, or -1 on the end of stream.

9. boolean ready(): The read() method returns true if the reader stream is ready to be read, or false if it isn’t. It is not similar to InputStream’s available() method.

10. void reset(): The reset() method resets the reader’s stream by moving back to an earlier position.

11. long skip​(long numChars): The skip() method reads and skips the specified number of characters of input. It returns the number of characters actually skipped, or -1 if the end of stream is reached.

12. long transferTo​(Writer out): The transferTo() method reads all characters from this reader and writes the characters to the specified writer in the same order that they were read.

All the methods defined in Java Reader class (except for markSupported( )) will throw an IOException on error conditions.

Reader Example Program

Let’s take an example program where we will read data from a file and display it on the console. Look at the following source code.

Program code 1:

package javaProgram;
public class ReaderExample {
public static void main(String[] args)
try {  
// Create an object of Reader class and pass path of filename.	
  Reader reader = new FileReader("D:\\myfile.txt");  

 int data =;  
 while (data != -1) 
    System.out.print((char) data);  
    data =;  
System.out.println("Does myfile.txt support mark operation: " +reader.markSupported()); 

 reader.close(); // Closing reader stream. 
} catch (Exception ex) {  

myfile.txt contents:

Welcome to Java Programming.
            Welcome to Java Programming.

            Does myfile.txt support mark operation: false

Difference between Reader and InputStream

There are the following differences between Reader and InputStream in Java. They are as follows:

1. Reader reads sequences of characters, whereas InputStream reads sequences of bytes.

2. Reader class defines read(char[ ]) and read(char[ ], int, int) methods instead of read(byte[ ]) and read(byte[ ], int , int) methods.

3. Reader class does not define an available() method. It defines a boolean ready() method.

4. Reader defines an int read(CharBuffer target) method for reading characters from a character buffer.

Hope that this tutorial has elaborated all the important points related to Reader class in Java and its methods with example program. I hope that you will have understood the basic difference between Reader and InputStream.

In the next tutorial, we will discuss InputStreamReader class in Java with examples. Please inform us if you find anything incorrect in this tutorial. Your email will be valuable for us.
Thanks for reading!!!
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