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Chapter 7. JavaTV > The Class File Format

7.3. The Class File Format

As explained earlier and depicted in Figure 7.1, the standardization of the Java class file format enables Java to become a real mobile code language. Reviewing the details of the class file definition often reveals many of the features of Java from a different perspective. The richness of the fields in this file often strikes readers familiar with Java as revealing. This section is a short simplified description of the Java class format. The complete JVM specification is available from Sun Microsystems.

To understand the Java class file concept, it may be helpful to understand how it improves on other file formats and the issues it was designed to address. Compiled binary executables for different platforms, such as *.exe files for windows, usually differ not only in the instruction set, libraries, and APIs at which they are aimed, but also by the file format used to represent the program code. For instance, Windows executables are encoded using the COFF file format, whereas Linux uses the ELF file format; there are existing deployed iTV set-top boxes running either Windows-based or Linux-based applications, but both are rarely supported simultaneously. Because Java aims at cross-platform binary compatibility, it introduced the Class File Format, which is a universal file format for all Java programs.


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