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6.8 Exception Handling: Socket-Specific Exceptions

As a medium for communication, networks are fraught with problems. With so many machines connected to the global Internet, the prospect of encountering a host whose hostname cannot be resolved, one that is disconnected from the network, or one that locks up during a connection, is very likely in the lifetime of a software application. It is important, therefore, to be aware of the conditions that might cause such problems to arise in an application and to deal with them gracefully. Of course, not every application will require precise control, and in simple applications you'll probably want to handle everything with a generic handler. For those more advanced applications, however, it is important to be aware of the socket-specific exceptions that can be thrown at runtime.


All socket-specific exceptions extend from SocketException, so by simply catching that exception, you catch all of the socket-specific ones and write a single generic handler. In addition, SocketException extends from java.io.IOException if you want to provide a catchall for any I/O exception.

6.8.1 SocketException

The java.net.SocketException represents a generic socket error, which can represent a range of specific error conditions. For finer-grained control, applications should catch the subclasses discussed below.

6.8.2 BindException

The java.net.BindException represents an inability to bind a socket to a local port. The most common reason for this will be that the local port is already in use.

6.8.3 ConnectException

The java.net.ConnectException occurs when a socket can't connect to a specific remote host and port. There can be several reasons for this, such as that the remote server does not have a service bound to that port, or that it is so swamped by queued connections, it cannot accept any further ones.

6.8.4 NoRouteToHostException

The java.net.NoRouteToHostException is thrown when, due to a network error, it is impossible to find a route to the remote host. The cause of this may be local (i.e., the network on which the software application is running), may be a temporary gateway or router problem, or may be the fault of the remote network to which the socket is trying to connect. Another common cause of this is that firewalls and routers are blocking the client software, which is usually a permanent condition.

6.8.5 InterruptedIOException

The java.net.InterruptedIOException occurs when a read operation is blocked for sufficient time to cause a network timeout, as discussed earlier in the chapter. Handling timeouts is a good way to make your code more robust and reliable.

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