[java] What is the best way to pass information between threads?

0 Answers

If you want synchronous communication between a main thread and a processing thread, you can use a SynchronousQueue.

The idea is that the main thread passes data to the processing thread by calling put(), and the processing thread calls take(). Both are blocking operations.

Note that if you want to send back a result, then things may get a bit more complex as the main thread has to know when the result is ready. A CountDownLatch is a good primitive for this. You can do something like this.

First let's define a datastructure to pass data around:

public class MethodCall {

    public final String methodName;

    public final Object[] args;

    public final CountDownLatch resultReady;

    public Object result;

    public MethodCall(String methodName, Object[] args) {
        this.methodName = methodName;
        this.args = args;
        this.resultReady = new CountDownLatch(1);

    public void setResult(Object result) {
        this.result = result;

    public Object getResult() throws InterruptedException {
        return result;

Define the queue to pass data around, visible by both threads:

public SynchronousQueue<MethodCall> methodCalls = new SynchronousQueue<MethodCall>();

To make a call from the main thread to the processing thread and wait for the result:

MethodCall call = new MethodCall(methodName, args);
Object result = call.getResult();

In the processing thread, for instance in a run() method, you can then do:

for (;;) {
    MethodCall call = methodCalls.take();
    Object res = processStuff(call.methodName, call.args);

Where processStuff implements your logic. Of course you should deal with exceptions as well, deal with exit cases, change MethodCall to have more specific things than methodName and args and an Object return, etc.


I want to be listening to a server while my program is doing other things, when a message is received from the server I want to interpret it.

I know about threading but not sure completely on how it works. If I have a thread listening for the server how can I pass that data to the main thread for interpretation? What is the best way for the main thread to send data to the server? What is the use of the synchronized modifier?