Now, the question arises if all types of methods invoking (interface, static method, instance method, constructor etc.) are covered by 4 opcodes, why there is another opcode invokeDynamic has been introduced?
To understand why invokedymic is required let dig down to a real problem, for a moment think you are building a framework where based on the command passed from UI you load a class runtime and invoke a particular method of that class.
Say you are building a Web framework like Struts — Now based on the URL you have to map a java class and invoke a specific method so you will create an XML(like struts-config.xml) where developer explicitly put the strategy — which URL map to which class and which method to be called.
Let’s see the prototype of the XML.
Seeing, this configuration XML one thing is clear, based on the action taken by the user in UI, different method will be called for EmployeController class, If user performs an add then internally an ‘add‘ parameter will be passed and framework checks that which method has to call for ‘add’ parameter and found it is executeAdd. Until User does not take an action no one can tell which method will be called, so all the decision has to be taken at runtime based on the parameters passed(add, edit, delete).
Think how you can design the same in java, what is the weapon available in java to implement the same, Of course, by the Reflection mechanism– By the reflection you are able to load the Employee controller class and based on the parameter you can invoke the appropriate method.
Pseudocode will be like that.
This runs very well, It will take the decision on runtime except for one problem. Reflection has huge performance penalties because it is always checking security constraints like what is the method access specifiers, is the caller has permission to call the method etc, so for this reflection is bit slow.
This is the one reason to introduce invokeDynamic in the place of reflection, it facilitates dynamic programming — where type checking and method resolution done at runtime. So by that you can add remove methods programmatically — You can do bytecode engineering runtime I mean, you can insert a new method which is not in the class definition !!! or override a method runtime!!! invokeDynamic provides this type of flexibility, unlike reflection.
invokeDynamic is as fast as other opcodes, but to introducing invoke dynamic in Java is not an easy task.
Java is a statically type so type checking is done at compile time also compiler checks a method is available in the class or not if the method is not available it throws compiler error so the questions is
How can we trick compiler in such a way where we can introduce a new method at runtime to be specific type checking and method resolution done at run-time?
How invokeDyamic works internally?
To work the invokeDynamic opcode correctly two important components are MethodHandle and CallSite
MethodHandle: Method handles wraps the metadata about a method– It holds the method signature so by invoking it you can invoke a method on an Object at runtime.
CallSite : Callsite can hold Method handle and if the Call site is mutable we can change the Method handle time to time, so based on the parameter we can change the MethodHandle and as Method handle holds the method so runtime we can change the method call without altering the bytecode instruction that is invoked dynamic, so same method invocation can execute different methods based on the parameters.
Actually when the invokeDynamic instruction is read by the interpreter following procedure happens underhood– invokedynamic instruction is associated with a special method called the bootstrap method (BSM). When the invokedynamic instruction is read by the interpreter, the BSM is invoked. It returns an object called Callsite (hold a method handle) that indicates which method actually execute.
So, Calliste works like the subline in the Train track– Trani always runs on a straight track but when it needs to change it’s direction Line Engineers are pull the liver of subline so it joins with another line according to the needs and Train just pass on that line and change the track, Calliste mimic the same methodology when based on parameter it changes the underlying method handle and same method invocation call diffrent method at runtime.
Let see the diagram,
Conclusion: invokeDynamic is a valuable inclusion in terms of framework level developer, By invokedynamic we can get the real essence of Dynamic programming in JVM, Many languages which run on JVM uses the invokedynamic to achieve dynamic type checking also Lamda uses invokedynamic, In my next tutorial I will show you how to write Callsite and MethodHandle and How you can changeMethodHandle under Callsite dynamically.