How Java Caching System (JCS) works?

Overview: In modern application development caching is one of the most important aspects to be considered during application design. The most common purpose of caching is to improve performance. A cache can be defined as a collection of objects. It contains stateful objects with keys as unique identifiers. The most common storage for any caching system is in memory. But caching system can also store items in disk, database or any other persistent storage. The Java Caching System (JCS) is a distributed caching framework developed in Java. It improves the application performance by providing support to manage various dynamic cached data.JCS supports in memory and disk caches. The JCS framework is completely configurable through properties file and provides lot of flexibility in cache management.

In this article I will discuss the JCS framework with working example.

Introduction: In most of the web applications, data is retrieved from the database. The database operation is expensive and time consuming. Now a day the web applications are data intensive and first response time is the basic criteria for its success. If the web application is frequently accessing database for each request then its performance will be slow. So the web applications are following different design techniques for reducing latency times and scale up.

JCS is a composite distributed caching system that works on JDK 1.4 and upper versions. The performance of JCS is very impressive for low put and high read applications.
Following are some of the major features of Java Caching System
·         Memory management
·         Thread pool control
·         Extensible framework
·         Configurable runtime parameters
·         Key based data retrieval
·         Distributed composite cache
·         Element event handling

JCS – The Composite Cache: The foundation of Java Caching System is based on composite cache. There are four types of caches available for each region. Any type of cache can be plugged into the JCS configuration to make it active. Following are the four different caches and their details.

  • Memory Cache (LRU): This is the widely used basic caching mechanism. The memory cache is extremely fast. It uses Least Recently Used (LRU) algorithm to manage the objects stored in the memory. The LRU memory cache is based on its own LRU Map implementation. This Map implementation is much faster compared to LRUMap implementation or any other type of Map.
  • Disk Cache (Indexed): The disk cache is used to store data when the memory cache is full. When indexing is used with the disk cache, the performance much faster. Queue based process is used to store data on the disk. The disk cache is completely configurable. A thread pool is used to manage the queue worker threads which also make the process faster.
  • JDBC Disk Cache: This is another type of disk cache which is reliable, fast and fully configurable. The basic storage is JDBC compatible database. Both the keys and values are stored in the database. The data is stored as a BLOB and the expired data elements are also removed periodically. Thread pool can also be used to manage queue worker threads for faster processing.
  • TCP Lateral Cache: This is a mechanism to distribute cached data on multiple distributed servers. This is also completely configurable caching system. It can also use UDP discovery mechanism to add nodes without disturbing the entire system. The TCP Lateral Cache establishes connections with socket servers on other nodes and performs the storage management. One server is sufficient to manage multiple regions.
  • Remote Cache using RMI: This is another caching option provided by JCS. In this mechanism each node is not required to connect with other node. The remote cache server can be used as a connection point and each node can connect with it. The remote cache server is used to hold a serialized version of your object. The remote server can be grouped with other servers to recover failover.

Dependency configuration: In the following section we will discuss a simple application using JCS. Before moving into it, we must have the following dependencies in the CLASSPATH. Please download the executable jars and put them in the CLASSPATH to build the application.

  • jcs-1.3.jar
  • commons-logging.jar
  • commons-lang-2.4.jar
  • jar

Working with JCS: In this section we will discuss different components of Java Caching System and the configuration details. We will explain each component with working example.

Following is a simple Employee class holding employee details. The class should implement Serializable interface as its data will be persisted. It contains getter/setter methods for reading and writing data.

Listing1: Showing Employee class

public class Employee implements{

private String name;

private String address;

private String empid;

public Employee(String name, String address, String empid) { = name;

this.address = address;

this.empid = empid;


public String getName() {

return name;


public void setName(String name) { = name;


public String getAddress() {

return address;


public void setAddress(String address) {

this.address = address;


public String getEmpid() {

return empid;


public void setEmpid(String empid) {

this.empid = empid;



Following is the main EmployeeManager class which imports JCS packages to use the framework APIs. It uses a cache region known as ‘empCache’ to put and get data into/from memory. The data is stored in the cache memory by using key/value pair. The retrieval is based on the key associated with each value. The application is showing addition/retrieval and removal of objects stored in a cache.

Listing2: Showing EmployeeManager class

import org.apache.jcs.JCS;

import org.apache.jcs.access.exception.CacheException;

public class EmployeeManager {

private JCS cache;

public EmployeeManager()




// Load the cache

cache = JCS.getInstance( “empCache” );

// Initialize the cache, Here data can be loaded during initialization

cache.put( “123”, new Employee( “Nick”, “Detroit.USA”, “123” ) );

cache.put( “143”, new Employee( “Ric”,  “Seattle.USA”, “143” ) );

cache.put( “153”, new Employee( “Jhon”, “Chicago.USA”, “153” ) );

cache.put( “163”, new Employee( “Dan”, “Houston.USA”, “163” ) );


catch( CacheException e )




public void addEmployee( Employee emp )




cache.put( emp.getEmpid(), emp );


catch( CacheException e )





public Employee getEmployee( String empid )


return ( Employee )cache.get( empid );


public void removeEmployee( String empid )




cache.remove( empid );


catch( CacheException e )





public static void main( String[] args )


// Create the employee manager

EmployeeManager empManager = new EmployeeManager();

// Add employees to the employee manager

/*empManager.addEmployee(new Employee(“Name1”, “address1”, “empid1”));

empManager.addEmployee(new Employee(“Name2”, “address2”, “empid2”));

empManager.addEmployee(new Employee(“Name3”, “address3”, “empid3”));*/

// Get employee

Employee emp = empManager.getEmployee(“123”);

System.out.println( “Employee details retrieved from cache: ” + emp.getName()+”-“+emp.getAddress());

// Remove employee


// After removal of employee

System.out.println( “Employee details after removal from cache: ” + empManager.getEmployee(“123”) );



Following is the configuration file cache.ccf. It holds all the configurable parameters with their values. The first section is the default cache region which holds the default values. If no custom region is configured then these default values will be used. The second section is defining the custom cache region which is empCache here. It defined the custom parameter values. The last section is the AUXILIARY CACHE region which describes the disk cache and other related parameters.

Listing3: Showing configuration file




































Conclusion: In this article we have discussed about caching concepts and one of the most popular caching framework known as Java Caching System. The article also covered different components of JCS and their implementation. Finally we have discussed a sample working example based on Java Caching System framework. The JCS is very powerful and written in Java language. The storage mechanism and its internal design are very powerful for high read and low put applications. The implementation is completely configurable so it can be integrated with any new and existing application without putting much effort.

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