Proposal for reworking Java adapters

Attila Szegedi attila.szegedi at
Tue Jun 9 13:00:24 UTC 2015

I’ve been thinking for a while about reworking the way our Java adapters work. 

Currently, Java adapters have a private final MethodHandle field for every function they might invoke from the object containing the implementation, and they populate those fields in their constructors by creating method handles for the script functions, bound to the implementation object. For smaller interfaces (e.g. SAMs) this is not a big deal, but for subclasses with many methods that could be overwritten, it can become O(n) costly to create and bind up to “n” method handles whenever an instance is created.

So, I was thinking of replacing this with a different scheme, where we only store the implementation object in a field. Initialization is O(1). We then emit the bodies of the adapter functions the same way we do a call from JS, e.g. for run():

ALOAD <object>
INVOKEDYNAMIC dyn:getMethod|getProp|getElem:run

(with the proviso of also handling null/undefined from getMethod to either call super or throw an UnsupportedOperationException)

Some of the benefits would include:
smaller adapter classes (always just a single field for the object). FWIW, this'd also avoid absurdly extreme situations like this:  < <>>
ability to invoke any callable that is member of the object, not just ScriptFunction
ability to use type specialization. This is quite a big deal actually. A less known fact about Nashorn is that the way we're binding a function often includes another level of indirection, as we need to use a “generic invoker” with its own call site that handles deoptimizing recompilation etc. So we actually box everything going into a ScriptFunction coming through a Java adapter. If we did this, we could ensure we emit dyn:call with relevant types (int/long/double/Object) and the linkage would also handle the deoptimizing recompilation as expected.

However, there’s two possible drawbacks:
we’ll be doing two dynamic operations on every invocation instead of one. Should not be a big deal, but we move the lookup from the constructor (one-time per constructor) to invocation. Of course, it isn’t any worse than doing the same thing from JS code, as JS code also always uses the lookup-then-call idiom anyway.
we subtly change the behavior with regard to backwards compatibility. Namely, previously we had the functions bound to the instance at construction time and now we look them up at every invocation. Previously, changing the functions within the implementation object didn’t have any effect, while now reassigning a function will change the effect. That is, consider the small example program below:

var impl = { run: function() { print("1") } };
var r = new java.lang.Runnable(impl);; = function() { print("2") };;

Currently, this prints 1 twice as the functions are bound into the adapter instance at its construction. If we implemented the change, it’ll print 1 then 2. That backwards incompatible change in the behavior is really the only reason why I feel we need to discuss this. I expect the vast majority of folks use object or function literals anyway, so the instance is effectively immutable and they wouldn’t be affected, e.g.
    new java.lang.Runnable(function() { print("1") })
    new java.lang.Runnable({ run: function() { print("1") } })
which are by far the most typical idioms, would be unaffected. 

What do people think?


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