bgroenks bgroenks - 1 year ago 90
Java Question

Using Java's ReferenceQueue

Do SoftReference and WeakReference really only help when created as instance variables? Is there any benefit to using them in method scope?

The other big part is ReferenceQueue. Besides being able to track which references are determined garbage, can

be used to forcibly register an object for garbage collection?

For example, would it be worth to create a method that takes some heavy memory resources (held by strong references) in an object and creating References to enqueue them?

Object bigObject;
public void dispose() {
ReferenceQueue<Object> queue = new ReferenceQueue<Object>();
WeakReference<Object> ref = new WeakReference<Object>(bigObject, queue);
bigObject = null;

(Imagine that Object in this case represents an object type that uses a lot of memory... like
or something)

Does this have any realistic effect? Or is this just a waste of code?

Answer Source

One common idiom with reference queues is to e.g. subclass WeakReference to attach information that's needed to clean up things, and then to poll a ReferenceQueue to get cleanup tasks.

ReferenceQueue<Foo> fooQueue = new ReferenceQueue<Foo>();

class ReferenceWithCleanup extends WeakReference<Foo> {
  Bar bar;
  ReferenceWithCleanup(Foo foo, Bar bar) {
    super(foo, fooQueue); = bar;
  public void cleanUp() {

public Thread cleanupThread = new Thread() {
  public void run() {
    while(true) {
      ReferenceWithCleanup ref = (ReferenceWithCleanup)fooQueue.remove();

public void doStuff() {
  Foo foo = new Foo();
  Bar bar = new Bar();
  ReferenceWithCleanup ref = new ReferenceWithCleanup(foo, bar);
  ... // From now on, once you release all non-weak references to foo,
      // then at some indeterminate point in the future, bar.cleanUp() will
      // be run. You can force it by calling ref.enqueue().

For example, the internals of Guava's CacheBuilder implementation when weakKeys are selected uses this approach.

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