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Javac - the Compiler

You can use the foundation JDK tools and commands to create and build applications. The following sections describe the tools and commands that you can use to create and build applications:


Introducing javac

javac - read Java class and interface definitions and compile them into bytecode and class files

javac [options] [sourcefiles]

options Command-line options.

sourcefiles One or more source files to be compiled (such as or processed for annotations (such as MyPackage.MyClass).



The javac command reads class and interface definitions, written in the Java programming language, and compiles them into bytecode class files. The javac command can also process annotations in Java source files and classes.

A launcher environment variable, JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS, was introduced in JDK 9 that prepended its content to the command line to javac.

There are two ways to pass source code file names to javac:

  • For a few source files, you can list the file names on the command line.

  • For a few source files, you can use the @filename option on the javac command line to include a file that lists the source file names.

Source code file names must have .java suffixes, class file names must have .class suffixes, and both source and class files must have root names that identify the class. For example, a class called MyClass would be written in a source file called

class MyClass {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("this is my class");

and compiled into a bytecode class file called MyClass.class:


Inner class definitions produce additional class files. These class files have names that combine the inner and outer class names, such as MyClass$MyInnerClass.class.

You should arrange the source files in a directory tree that reflects their package tree. For example:

  • Linux and macOS: If all of your source files are in /workspace, then put the source code for com.mysoft.mypack.MyClass in /workspace/com/mysoft/mypack/
  • Windows: If all of your source files are in \workspace, then put the source code for com.mysoft.mypack.MyClass in \workspace\com\mysoft\mypack\

By default, the compiler puts each class file in the same directory as its source file. You can specify a separate destination directory with the -d option described in Standard Options.


Programmatic Interface

The javac command supports the new Java Compiler API defined by the classes and interfaces in the package.


Implicitly Loaded Source Files

To compile a set of source files, the compiler might need to implicitly load additional source files. Such files are currently not subject to annotation processing. By default, the compiler gives a warning when annotation processing occurs and any implicitly loaded source files are compiled. The -implicit option provides a way to suppress the warning.


Using JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS Environment Variable

The content of the JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS environment variable, separated by white-spaces or white-space characters (\n, \t, \r, or \f) is prepended to the command line arguments passed to javac as a list of arguments.

The encoding requirement for the environment variable is the same as the javac command line on the system. JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS environment variable content is treated in the same manner as that specified in the command line.

Single quotes ' or double quotes " can be used to enclose arguments that contain whitespace characters. All content between the open quote and the first matching close quote are preserved by simply removing the pair of quotes. In case a matching quote is not found, the launcher will abort with an error message. @files are supported as they are specified in the command line. However, as in @files, use of a wildcard is not supported:

export JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS='@"C:\white spaces\argfile"'

export JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS='"@C:\white spaces\argfile"'

export JDK_JAVAC_OPTIONS='@C:\"white spaces"\argfile'

Overview of javac Options

The compiler has sets of standard options, and cross-compilation options that are supported on the current development environment. The compiler also has a set of nonstandard options that are specific to the current virtual machine and compiler implementations but are subject to change in the future. The nonstandard options begin with -X . The different sets of javac options are described in the following sections:

  • Standard Options
  • Cross-Compilation Options for javac
  • Extra Options

Standard Options

@filename Reads options and file names from a file. To shorten or simplify the javac command, you can specify one or more files that contain arguments to the javac command (except -J options). This lets you to create javac commands of any length on any operating system.

-Akey[=value] Specifies options to pass to annotation processors. These options are not interpreted by javac directly, but are made available for use by individual processors. The key value should be one or more identifiers separated by a dot ..

--add-modules module,module Specifies root modules to resolve in addition to the initial modules, or all modules on the module path if module is ALL-MODULE-PATH.

--boot-class-path path or -bootclasspath path Overrides the location of the bootstrap class files.

--class-path path, -classpath path, or -cp path Specifies where to find user class files and annotation processors. This class path overrides the user class path in the CLASSPATH environment variable:

  • If --class-path, -classpath, or -cp are not specified, then the user class path is the current directory.
  • If the -sourcepath option isn’t specified, then the user class path is also searched for source files.
  • If the -processorpath option isn’t specified, then the class path is also searched for annotation processors.

-d directory Sets the destination directory for class files. If a class is part of a package, then javac puts the class file in a subdirectory that reflects the package name and creates directories as needed. For example:

  • Linux and macOS: If you specify -d /home/myclasses and the class is called com.mypackage.MyClass, then the class file is /home/myclasses/com/mypackage/MyClass.class.
  • Windows: If you specify -d C:\myclasses and the class is called com.mypackage.MyClass, then the class file is C:\myclasses\com\mypackage\MyClass.class.

-deprecation Shows a description of each use or override of a deprecated member or class. Without the -deprecation option, javac shows a summary of the source files that use or override deprecated members or classes. The -deprecation option is shorthand for -Xlint:deprecation.

--enable-preview Enables preview language features. Used in conjunction with either -source or --release.

-encoding encoding Specifies character encoding used by source files, such as EUC-JP and UTF-8. If the -encoding option isn’t specified, then the platform default encoding is used.

-endorseddirs directories Overrides the location of the endorsed standards' path.

-extdirs directories Overrides the location of the installed extensions. The directories variable is a colon-separated list of directories. Each JAR file in the specified directories is searched for class files. All JAR files found become part of the class path.

-g Generates all debugging information, including local variables. By default, only line number and source file information is generated.

-g:[lines, vars, source] Generates only the kinds of debugging information specified by the comma-separated list of keywords. Valid keywords are:

`lines` - Line number debugging information.

`vars` - Local variable debugging information.

`source` - Source file debugging information.

-g:none does not generate debugging information.

-h directory Specifies where to place generated native header files.

When you specify this option, a native header file is generated for each class that contains native methods or that has one or more constants annotated with the java.lang.annotation.Native annotation. If the class is part of a package, then the compiler puts the native header file in a subdirectory that reflects the package name and creates directories as needed.

--help, –help or -? Prints a synopsis of the standard options.

--help-extra or -X Prints the help for extra options.

-implicit:[none, class] Specifies whether or not to generate class files for implicitly referenced files:

-implicit:class Automatically generates class files.

-implicit:none Suppresses class file generation.

If this option isn’t specified, then the default automatically generates class files. In this case, the compiler issues a warning if any class files are generated when also doing annotation processing. The warning isn’t issued when the -implicit option is explicitly set. See Searching for Types.

-Joption Passes option to the runtime system, where option is one of the Java options described on java command. For example, -J-Xms48m sets the startup memory to 48 MB.

--limit-modules module,module* Limits the universe of observable modules.

--module module-name or -m module-name Compiles only the specified module and checks time stamps.

--module-path path or -p path Specifies where to find application modules.

--module-source-path module-source-path Specifies where to find input source files for multiple modules.

--module-version version Specifies the version of modules that are being compiled.

-nowarn Disables warning messages. This option operates the same as the -Xlint:none option.

-parameters Generates metadata for reflection on method parameters. Stores formal parameter names of constructors and methods in the generated class file so that the method java.lang.reflect.Executable.getParameters from the Reflection API can retrieve them.

-proc:[none, only] Controls whether annotation processing and compilation are done. -proc:none means that compilation takes place without annotation processing. -proc:only means that only annotation processing is done, without any subsequent compilation.

-processor class1[,class2,class3...] Names of the annotation processors to run. This bypasses the default discovery process.

--processor-module-path path Specifies the module path used for finding annotation processors.

--processor-path path or -processorpath path Specifies where to find annotation processors. If this option isn’t used, then the class path is searched for processors.

-profile profile Checks that the API used is available in the specified profile.

--release release Compiles against the public, supported and documented API for a specific VM version.

Specifies the directory used to place the generated source files. If a class is part of a package, then the compiler puts the source file in a subdirectory that reflects the package name and creates directories as needed. For example:

  • Linux and macOS: If you specify -s /home/mysrc and the class is called com.mypackage.MyClass, then the source file is put in /home/mysrc/com/mypackage/
  • Windows: If you specify -s C:\mysrc and the class is called com.mypackage.MyClass, then the source file is put in C:\mysrc\com\mypackage\

-source release Specifies the version of source code accepted. The following values for release are allowed:

-source 15 The compiler accepts code with features introduced in Java SE 15.

-source 16 The default value. The compiler accepts code with features introduced in Java SE 16.

--source-path path or -sourcepath path Specifies where to find input source files. This is the source code path used to search for class or interface definitions. As with the user class path, source path entries are separated by colons (:) on Linux and macOS and semicolons (;) on Windows. They can be directories, JAR archives, or ZIP archives. If packages are used, then the local path name within the directory or archive must reflect the package name.

--system jdk | none Overrides the location of system modules.

-target release Generates class files for a specific VM version.

--upgrade-module—path path Overrides the location of upgradeable modules.

-verbose Outputs messages about what the compiler is doing. Messages include information about each class loaded and each source file compiled.

--version or -version Prints version information.

-Werror Terminates compilation when warnings occur.


Cross-Compilation Options for javac

By default, for releases prior to JDK 9, classes were compiled against the bootstrap classes of the platform that shipped with thejavac command. But javac also supports cross-compiling, in which classes are compiled against bootstrap classes of a different Java platform implementation. It’s important to use the -bootclasspath and -extdirs options when cross-compiling.


Extra Options

--add-exports module/package=other-module(,other-module)* Specifies a package to be considered as exported from its defining module to additional modules or to all unnamed modules when the value of other-module is ALL-UNNAMED.

--add-reads module=other-module(,other-module)* Specifies additional modules to be considered as required by a given module.

--default-module-for-created-files module-name Specifies the fallback target module for files created by annotation processors, if none is specified or inferred.

-Djava.endorsed.dirs=dirs Overrides the location of the endorsed standards path.

-Djava.ext.dirs=dirs Overrides the location of installed extensions.

--doclint-format [html4|html5] Specifies the format for documentation comments.

--patch-module module=file(:file)* Overrides or augments a module with classes and resources in JAR files or directories.

-Xbootclasspath:path Overrides the location of the bootstrap class files.

-Xbootclasspath/a:path Adds a suffix to the bootstrap class path.

-Xbootclasspath/p:path Adds a prefix to the bootstrap class path.

-Xdiags:[compact, verbose] Selects a diagnostic mode.

-Xdoclint Enables recommended checks for problems in javadoc comments.

-Xdoclint:(all|none|[-]group)[/access] Enables or disables specific groups of checks.

group can have one of the following values:


access specifies the minimum visibility level of classes and members that the -Xdoclint option checks. It can have one of the following values (in order of most to least visible):


The default access level is private.

For more information about these groups of checks, see the -Xdoclint option of the javadoc command. The -Xdoclint option is disabled by default in the javac command.

For example, the following option checks classes and members (with all groups of checks) that have the access level of protected and higher (which includes protected and public):


-Xdoclint/package:[-]packages(,[-]package)* Enables or disables checks in specific packages. Each package is either the qualified name of a package or a package name prefix followed by a period and asterisk (.*), which expands to all sub-packages of the given package. Each package can be prefixed with a hyphen (-) to disable checks for a specified package or packages.

-Xlint Enables all recommended warnings. In this release, enabling all available warnings is recommended.

-Xlint:[-]key(,[-]key)* Supplies warnings to enable or disable, separated by a comma (,). Precede a key by a hyphen (-) to disable the specified warning.

Supported values for key are:

        all: Enables all warnings.
        auxiliaryclass: Warns about an auxiliary class that’s hidden in a source file, and is used from other files.
        cast: Warns about the use of unnecessary casts.
        classfile: Warns about the issues related to classfile contents.
        deprecation: Warns about the use of deprecated items.
        dep-ann: Warns about the items marked as deprecated in javadoc but without the @Deprecated annotation.
        divzero: Warns about the division by the constant integer 0.
        empty: Warns about an empty statement after if.
        exports: Warns about the issues regarding module exports.
        fallthrough: Warns about the falling through from one case of a switch statement to the next.
        finally: Warns about finally clauses that do not terminate normally.
        module: Warns about the module system-related issues.
        opens: Warns about the issues related to module opens.
        options: Warns about the issues relating to use of command line options.
        overloads: Warns about the issues related to method overloads.
        overrides: Warns about the issues related to method overrides.
        path: Warns about the invalid path elements on the command line.
        processing: Warns about the issues related to annotation processing.
        rawtypes: Warns about the use of raw types.
        removal: Warns about the use of an API that has been marked for removal.
        requires-automatic: Warns developers about the use of automatic modules in requires clauses.
        requires-transitive-automatic: Warns about automatic modules in requires transitive.
        serial: Warns about the serializable classes that do not provide a serial version ID. Also warns about access to non-public members from a serializable element.
        static: Warns about accessing a static member using an instance.
        try: Warns about the issues relating to the use of try blocks (that is, try-with-resources).
        unchecked: Warns about the unchecked operations.
        varargs: Warns about the potentially unsafe vararg methods.
        none: Disables all warnings.

-Xmaxerrs number Sets the maximum number of errors to print.

-Xmaxwarns number Sets the maximum number of warnings to print.

-Xpkginfo:[always, legacy, nonempty] Specifies when and how the javac command generates package-info.class files from files using one of the following options:

    always - Generates a package-info.class file for every file. This option may be useful if you use a build system such as Ant, which checks that each .java file has a corresponding .class file.
    legacy - Generates a package-info.class file only if contains annotations. This option doesn't generate a package-info.class file if contains only comments.
    nonempty - Generates a package-info.class file only if contains annotations with RetentionPolicy.CLASS or RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME.

-Xplugin:name args Specifies the name and optional arguments for a plug-in to be run.

-Xprefer:[source, newer] Specifies which file to read when both a source file and class file are found for an implicitly compiled class using one of the following options:

`-Xprefer:newer` - Reads the newer of the source or class files for a type (default).

`-Xprefer:source` - Reads the source file. Use `-Xprefer:source` when you want to be sure that any annotation processors can access annotations declared with a retention policy of SOURCE.

-Xprint Prints a textual representation of specified types for debugging purposes. This does not perform annotation processing or compilation. The format of the output could change.

-XprintProcessorInfo Prints information about which annotations a processor is asked to process.

-XprintRounds Prints information about initial and subsequent annotation processing rounds.

-Xstdout filename Sends compiler messages to the named file. By default, compiler messages go to System.err.


Command-Line Argument Files

An argument file can include javac options and source file names in any combination. The arguments within a file can be separated by spaces or new line characters. If a file name contains embedded spaces, then put the whole file name in double quotation marks.

File names within an argument file are relative to the current directory, not to the location of the argument file. Wildcards * are not allowed in these lists (such as for specifying *.java). Use of the at sign @ to recursively interpret files isn’t supported. The -J options are not supported because they’re passed to the launcher, which does not support argument files.

When executing the javac command, pass in the path and name of each argument file with the at sign @ leading character. When the javac command encounters an argument beginning with the at sign @, it expands the contents of that file into the argument list.



Examples of Using javac @filename

Single Argument File You could use a single argument file named argfile to hold all javac arguments:

javac @argfile

This argument file could contain the contents of both files shown in the following Two Argument Files example.

Two Argument Files You can create two argument files: one for the javac options, and the other for the source file names. Note that the following lists have no line-continuation characters. Create a file named options that contains the following:

Linux and macOS:

-d classes
-sourcepath /java/pubs/ws/1.3/src/share/classes


-d classes
-sourcepath C:\java\pubs\ws\1.3\src\share\classes

Create a file named classes that contains the following:

Then, run the javac command as follows:

javac @options @classes

Argument Files with Paths The argument files can have paths, but any file names inside the files are relative to the current working directory (not path1 or path2):

javac @path1/options @path2/classes

Examples of Using -Xlint keys

cast Warns about unnecessary and redundant casts, for example:

String s = (String) "Hello!"

classfile Warns about issues related to class file contents.

deprecation Warns about the use of deprecated items. For example:

java.util.Date myDate = new java.util.Date();
int currentDay = myDate.getDay();

The method java.util.Date.getDay has been deprecated since JDK 1.1.

dep-ann Warns about items that are documented with the @deprecated Javadoc comment, but do not have the @Deprecated annotation, for example:

  * @deprecated As of Java SE 7, replaced by {@link #newMethod()}
public static void deprecatedMethod() { }
public static void newMethod() { }

divzero Warns about division by the constant integer 0, for example:

int divideByZero = 42 / 0;

empty Warns about empty statements after if statements, for example:

class E {
    void m() {
         if (true) ;

fallthrough Checks the switch blocks for fall-through cases and provides a warning message for any that are found. Fall-through cases are cases in a switch block, other than the last case in the block, whose code doesn’t include a break statement, allowing code execution to fall through from that case to the next case. For example, the code following the case 1 label in this switch block doesn’t end with a break statement:

switch (x) {
case 1:
  // No break statement here.
case 2:

If the -Xlint:fallthrough option was used when compiling this code, then the compiler emits a warning about possible fall-through into case, with the line number of the case in question.

finally Warns about finally clauses that can’t be completed normally, for example:

public static int m() {
  try {
     throw new NullPointerException();
  }  catch (NullPointerException(); {
     System.err.println("Caught NullPointerException.");
     return 1;
   } finally {
     return 0;

The compiler generates a warning for the finally block in this example. When the int method is called, it returns a value of 0. A finally block executes when the try block exits. In this example, when control is transferred to the catch block, the int method exits. However, the finally block must execute, so it’s executed, even though control was transferred outside the method.

options Warns about issues that related to the use of command-line options. See Cross-Compilation Options for javac.

overrides Warns about issues related to method overrides. For example, consider the following two classes:

public class ClassWithVarargsMethod {
  void varargsMethod(String... s) { }

public class ClassWithOverridingMethod extends ClassWithVarargsMethod {
   void varargsMethod(String[] s) { }

The compiler generates a warning similar to the following:

warning: [override] varargsMethod(String[]) in ClassWithOverridingMethod 
overrides varargsMethod(String...) in ClassWithVarargsMethod; overriding
method is missing '...'

When the compiler encounters a varargs method, it translates the varargs formal parameter into an array. In the method ClassWithVarargsMethod.varargsMethod, the compiler translates the varargs formal parameter String... s to the formal parameter String[] s, an array that matches the formal parameter of the method ClassWithOverridingMethod.varargsMethod. Consequently, this example compiles.

path Warns about invalid path elements and nonexistent path directories on the command line (with regard to the class path, the source path, and other paths). Such warnings can’t be suppressed with the @SuppressWarnings annotation. For example:

  • Linux and macOS: javac -Xlint:path -classpath /nonexistentpath

  • Windows: javac -Xlint:path -classpath C:\nonexistentpath

processing Warns about issues related to annotation processing. The compiler generates this warning when you have a class that has an annotation, and you use an annotation processor that can’t handle that type of exception. For example, the following is a simple annotation processor:

import java.util.*;
import javax.annotation.processing.*;
import javax.lang.model.*;
import javaz.lang.model.element.*;

public class AnnoProc extends AbstractProcessor {
  public boolean process(Set<? extends TypeElement> elems, RoundEnvironment renv){
     return true;

  public SourceVersion getSupportedSourceVersion() {
     return SourceVersion.latest();
@interface Anno { }

class AnnosWithoutProcessors { }

The following commands compile the annotation processor AnnoProc, then run this annotation processor against the source file

javac -cp . -Xlint:processing -processor AnnoProc -proc:only

When the compiler runs the annotation processor against the source file, it generates the following warning:

warning: [processing] No processor claimed any of these annotations: Anno

To resolve this issue, you can rename the annotation defined and used in the class AnnosWithoutProcessors from Anno to NotAnno.

rawtypes Warns about unchecked operations on raw types. The following statement generates a rawtypes warning:

void countElements(List l) { ... }

The following example doesn’t generate a rawtypes warning:

void countElements(List<?> l) { ... }

List is a raw type. However, List<?> is an unbounded wildcard parameterized type. Because List is a parameterized interface, always specify its type argument. In this example, the List formal argument is specified with an unbounded wildcard ? as its formal type parameter, which means that the countElements method can accept any instantiation of the List interface.

serial Warns about missing serialVersionUID definitions on serializable classes. For example:

public class PersistentTime implements Serializable
  private Date time;
   public PersistentTime() {
     time = Calendar.getInstance().getTime();
   public Date getTime() {
     return time;

The compiler generates the following warning:

warning: [serial] serializable class PersistentTime has no definition of

If a serializable class doesn’t explicitly declare a field named serialVersionUID, then the serialization runtime environment calculates a default serialVersionUID value for that class based on various aspects of the class, as described in the Java Object Serialization Specification. However, it’s strongly recommended that all serializable classes explicitly declare serialVersionUID values because the default process of computing serialVersionUID values is highly sensitive to class details that can vary depending on compiler implementations. As a result, this might cause an unexpected InvalidClassExceptions during deserialization. To guarantee a consistent serialVersionUID value across different Java compiler implementations, a serializable class must declare an explicit serialVersionUID value.

static Warns about issues relating to the use of static variables, for example:

class XLintStatic {
    static void m1() { }
    void m2() { this.m1(); }

The compiler generates the following warning:

warning: [static] static method should be qualified by type name,
XLintStatic, instead of by an expression

To resolve this issue, you can call the static method m1 as follows:


Alternately, you can remove the static keyword from the declaration of the method m1.

try Warns about issues relating to the use of try blocks, including try-with-resources statements. For example, a warning is generated for the following statement because the resource ac declared in the try block isn’t used:

try ( AutoCloseable ac = getResource() ) {    // do nothing}

unchecked Gives more detail for unchecked conversion warnings that are mandated by the Java Language Specification, for example:

List l = new ArrayList<Number>();
List<String> ls = l;       // unchecked warning

During type erasure, the types ArrayList<Number> and List<String> become ArrayList and List, respectively.

The ls command has the parameterized type List<String>. When the List referenced by l is assigned to ls, the compiler generates an unchecked warning. At compile time, the compiler and JVM can’t determine whether l refers to a List<String> type. In this case, l doesn’t refer to a List<String> type. As a result, heap pollution occurs.

A heap pollution situation occurs when the List object l, whose static type is List<Number>, is assigned to another List object, ls, that has a different static type, List<String>. However, the compiler still allows this assignment. It must allow this assignment to preserve backward compatibility with releases of Java SE that don’t support generics. Because of type erasure, List<Number> and List<String> both become List. Consequently, the compiler allows the assignment of the object l, which has a raw type of List, to the object ls.

varargs Warns about unsafe use of variable arguments (varargs) methods, in particular, those that contain non-reifiable arguments, for example:

public class ArrayBuilder {
  public static <T> void addToList (List<T> listArg, T... elements) {
    for (T x : elements) {

A non-reifiable type is a type whose type information isn’t fully available at runtime. The compiler generates the following warning for the definition of the method ArrayBuilder.addToList:

warning: [varargs] Possible heap pollution from parameterized vararg type T

When the compiler encounters a varargs method, it translates the varargs formal parameter into an array. However, the Java programming language doesn’t permit the creation of arrays of parameterized types. In the method ArrayBuilder.addToList, the compiler translates the varargs formal parameter T... elements to the formal parameter T[] elements, an array. However, because of type erasure, the compiler converts the varargs formal parameter to Object[] elements. Consequently, there’s a possibility of heap pollution.

Example of Compiling by Providing Command-Line Arguments

To compile as though providing command-line arguments, use the following syntax:

JavaCompiler javac = ToolProvider.getSystemJavaCompiler();

The example writes diagnostics to the standard output stream and returns the exit code that javac command would give when called from the command line. You can use other methods in the interface to handle diagnostics, control where files are read from and written to, and more.

Example of Compiling Multiple Source Files

This example compiles the,,, and source files in the greetings package.

Linux and macOS:

% javac greetings/*.java
% ls greetings
Aloha.class         GutenTag.class      Hello.class         Hi.class


C:\>javac greetings\*.java
C:\>dir greetings
Aloha.class         GutenTag.class      Hello.class         Hi.class

Example of Specifying a User Class Path

After changing one of the source files in the previous example, recompile it:

Linux and macOS:

javac greetings/


C:\>javac greetings\

Because greetings.Hi refers to other classes in the greetings package, the compiler needs to find these other classes. The previous example works because the default user class path is the directory that contains the package directory. If you want to recompile this file without concern for which directory you are in, then add the examples' directory to the user class path by setting CLASSPATH. This example uses the -classpath option.

Linux and macOS:

javac -classpath /examples /examples/greetings/


C:\>javac -classpath \examples \examples\greetings\
If you change greetings.Hi to use a banner utility, then that utility also needs to be accessible through the user class path.

Linux and macOS:

javac -classpath /examples:/lib/Banners.jar /examples/greetings/


C:\>javac -classpath \examples;\lib\Banners.jar \examples\greetings\

To execute a class in the greetings package, the program needs access to the greetings package, and to the classes that the greetings classes use.

Linux and macOS:

java -classpath /examples:/lib/Banners.jar greetings.Hi


C:\>java -classpath \examples;\lib\Banners.jar greetings.Hi


Annotation Processing

The javac command provides direct support for annotation processing, superseding the need for the separate annotation processing command, apt. The API for annotation processors is defined in the javax.annotation.processing and javax.lang.model packages and subpackages.

How Annotation Processing Works

Unless annotation processing is disabled with the -proc:none option, the compiler searches for any annotation processors that are available. The search path can be specified with the -processorpath option. If no path is specified, then the user class path is used. Processors are located by means of service provider-configuration files named META-INF/services/javax.annotation.processing. Processor on the search path. Such files should contain the names of any annotation processors to be used, listed one per line. Alternatively, processors can be specified explicitly, using the -processor option. After scanning the source files and classes on the command line to determine what annotations are present, the compiler queries the processors to determine what annotations they process. When a match is found, the processor is called. A processor can claim the annotations it processes, in which case no further attempt is made to find any processors for those annotations. After all the annotations are claimed, the compiler does not search for additional processors.

If any processors generate new source files, then another round of annotation processing occurs: Any newly generated source files are scanned, and the annotations processed as before. Any processors called on previous rounds are also called on all subsequent rounds. This continues until no new source files are generated. After a round occurs where no new source files are generated, the annotation processors are called one last time, to give them a chance to complete any remaining work. Finally, unless the -proc:only option is used, the compiler compiles the original and all generated source files.

Searching for Types

To compile a source file, the compiler often needs information about a type, but the type definition is not in the source files specified on the command line. The compiler needs type information for every class or interface used, extended, or implemented in the source file. This includes classes and interfaces not explicitly mentioned in the source file, but that provide information through inheritance.

For example, when you create a subclass of java.awt.Window, you are also using the ancestor classes of Window: java.awt.Container, java.awt.Component, and java.lang.Object. When the compiler needs type information, it searches for a source file or class file that defines the type. The compiler searches for class files first in the bootstrap and extension classes, then in the user class path (which by default is the current directory). The user class path is defined by setting the CLASSPATH environment variable or by using the -classpath option.

If you set the -sourcepath option, then the compiler searches the indicated path for source files. Otherwise, the compiler searches the user class path for both class files and source files. You can specify different bootstrap or extension classes with the -bootclasspath and the -extdirs options.

A successful type search may produce a class file, a source file, or both. If both are found, then you can use the -Xprefer option to instruct the compiler which to use. If newer is specified, then the compiler uses the newer of the two files. If source is specified, the compiler uses the source file. The default is newer.

If a type search finds a source file for a required type, either by itself, or as a result of the setting for the -Xprefer option, then the compiler reads the source file to get the information it needs. By default, the compiler also compiles the source file. You can use the -implicit option to specify the behavior. If none is specified, then no class files are generated for the source file. If class is specified, then class files are generated for the source file.

The compiler might not discover the need for some type information until after annotation processing completes. When the type information is found in a source file and no -implicit option is specified, the compiler gives a warning that the file is being compiled without being subject to annotation processing. To disable the warning, either specify the file on the command line (so that it will be subject to annotation processing) or use the -implicit option to specify whether class files should be generated for such source files.

Last update: September 14, 2021

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