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Foreign Function and Memory APIs in Java 21

Java is a popular and powerful programming language known for its platform independence and robustness. Over the years, Java has evolved, introducing various features and APIs to enhance its capabilities. One such evolution is Project Panama, which aims to improve the connection between Java and native code. As part of Project Panama, the foreign function and memory APIs were introduced to allow Java developers to work with native code more easily and efficiently.

Foreign Function API

The Foreign Function API, often referred to as FFI (Foreign Function Interface), is designed to provide a bridge between Java and native code written in languages like C and C++. It enables Java applications to call functions defined in native libraries and work with native data types seamlessly. Let's delve into some key aspects of the Foreign Function API:

1. Function Pointers

One of the fundamental features of the Foreign Function API is the ability to create and manipulate function pointers. In the native world, functions are often represented as pointers, and the FFI allows you to work with them directly from Java. This means you can call native functions just like regular Java methods.

Here's a simplified example of using the FFI to call a native function:


The expected output will depend on the behavior of the native function "nativeFunction" in the "exampleLibrary" library. If "nativeFunction" is designed to print something to the console, you will see that output. If it does not produce any output or has a different behavior, the output may be empty or non-existent.

2. Memory Management

Working with memory in the native world can be complex, and the Foreign Memory API simplifies this process for Java developers. It allows you to allocate and manage native memory directly from Java, eliminating the need for manual memory management.

Here's an example of allocating native memory using the Foreign Memory API:


Value: 42


In this example, we allocate native memory, write the integer value 42 to it, read it back from native memory, and then print it to the console. The output is "Value: 42" because we wrote 42 to native memory and then read it back.

Memory API

The Memory API, closely related to the Foreign Memory API, provides a way to work with native memory more efficiently and safely in Java. It introduces concepts like MemorySegment and MemoryAddress to represent native memory regions and addresses, respectively.

Key features of the Memory API

1. Memory Segments

MemorySegment is the primary abstraction for working with native memory. It represents a region of native memory with a specific size. Memory segments can be allocated, resized, and accessed in a controlled and safe manner.

2. Memory Addresses

MemoryAddress represents a specific location within a MemorySegment. It provides methods for reading and writing data of different types at that memory location. Memory addresses are used to interact with native memory effectively.

3. Memory Access Modes

The Memory API supports different access modes, such as read, write, and read-write, to control how memory can be accessed. This helps ensure memory safety and security.


The Foreign Function and Memory APIs in Java, introduced as part of Project Panama, open up exciting opportunities for Java developers to interact with native code and memory more efficiently and safely. With the ability to call native functions and manage memory seamlessly, Java applications can achieve greater flexibility and performance when integrating with native libraries and systems.

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