Marker interface is used as a tag to inform a message to the Java compiler so that it can add special behaviour to the class implementing it. Java marker interface has no members in it.
Lets take the java.io.Serializable marker interface. It does not have any members defined it it. When a Java class is to be serialized, you should intimate the Java compiler in some way that there is a possibility of serializing this java class. In this scenario, marker interfaces are used. The java class which may be serialized has to implement the java.io.Serializable marker interface. In such way, we are intimating the java compiler.
From java 1.5, the need for marker interface is eliminated by the introduction of the java annotation feature. So, it is wise to use java annotations than the marker interface. It has more feature and advantages than the java marker interface.
I could not find any reference or definition to marker interface from Java specification or API. It looks like, ‘Marker Interface’ is a term coined by authors. This is one popular question asked in Java interviews.
“Runnable is not a marker interface”, you might say ‘run’ is used to start a method and this is a special instruction to the JVM. When you run a java class the java interpreter calls the ‘main’ method, because of this would you say every java class as “marker class”?
“An interface is called a marker interface when it is provided as a handle by Java interpreter to mark a class so that it can provide special behaviour to it at runtime and they do not have any method declarations”.
I don’t think, in future there will be any new marker interfaces added.
We cannot create marker interfaces, as you cannot instruct JVM to add special behavior to all classes implementing (directly) that special interface.
This Abstract and Interface tutorial was added on 29/05/2008.