Java Archive (JAR)

Last Updated: April 14, 2014

Definition - What does Java Archive (JAR) mean?

Java archive (JAR) is a file format that contains bundled Java class files along with associated image/sound files, resources and metadata. It is usually a single, compressed file mostly used for supplying the necessary Java libraries and application software on a Java programming platform.

The JAR file format is similar to the tape archive (TAR) file format used in Unix.

Techopedia explains Java Archive (JAR)

A JAR file also may be used in the following ways:
  • As a building block in Java applications
  • As a deployment unit for Java plug-ins, applets or components For packaging Java components and dependent resources
JAR file features include the following:
  • Mostly compressed into a ZIP file format and identified with the file .jat file extension
  • Can be executable
  • One can sign in on JAR file contents for more security.
  • Have a lower download time, especially those related to applets and Java Web Start
  • Highly compressed and provide efficient storage for the bundled Java files
  • Support package versioning and package version consistency
  • Support portability
  • Java Development Kit (JDK) provides a JAR tool that helps perform basic JAR file tasks.
  • In a JDK, a utility program with a JAR is provided. A programmer can use this to create, extract or perform any permitted operations on the JAR file.
  • Date and time stamp are stored during the creation of a JAR file.
  • Using JAR files, a Java application can be initiated in an enterprise.
  • When used on the Web, a JAR file may contain an applet and accompany a Web page.

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