Udp Socket Programming in Java – How to Code Client and Server

By | August 5, 2020

UDP - User Datagram Protocol sockets

UDP is an alternative protocol to the more commonly used TCP protocol. It is a connection-less protocol where you directly send packets without have to establish a proper connection.

UDP packets have smaller headers compared to TCP headers. Also data communication is faster since no acknowledgement is exchanged for reliable packet delivery.

In this quick tutorial we shall learn how to use udp sockets to make a simple client and server program.
UDP sockets can be used in java with the DatagramSocket class.

UDP Server

Let code a simple udp server that listens on a certain port number.

/**
	Java ECHO server with UDP sockets example
*/

import java.io.*;
import java.net.*;

public class udp_server
{
	public static void main(String args[])
	{
		DatagramSocket sock = null;
		
		try
		{
			//1. creating a server socket, parameter is local port number
			sock = new DatagramSocket(7777);
			
			//buffer to receive incoming data
			byte[] buffer = new byte[65536];
			DatagramPacket incoming = new DatagramPacket(buffer, buffer.length);
			
			//2. Wait for an incoming data
			echo("Server socket created. Waiting for incoming data...");
			
			//communication loop
			while(true)
			{
				sock.receive(incoming);
				byte[] data = incoming.getData();
				String s = new String(data, 0, incoming.getLength());
				
				//echo the details of incoming data - client ip : client port - client message
				echo(incoming.getAddress().getHostAddress() + " : " + incoming.getPort() + " - " + s);
				
				s = "OK : " + s;
				DatagramPacket dp = new DatagramPacket(s.getBytes() , s.getBytes().length , incoming.getAddress() , incoming.getPort());
				sock.send(dp);
			}
		}
		
		catch(IOException e)
		{
			System.err.println("IOException " + e);
		}
	}
	
	//simple function to echo data to terminal
	public static void echo(String msg)
	{
		System.out.println(msg);
	}
}

Run this program by typing the following at terminal/command line

$ javac udp_server.java && java udp_server
Server socket created. Waiting for incoming data...

Now the udp server is up and waiting for incoming data. To check that udp server is really up, the netstat command can be used.

On Linux

$ netstat -u -ap
(Not all processes could be identified, non-owned process info
 will not be shown, you would have to be root to see it all.)
Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State       PID/Program name
udp        0      0 localhost:11211         *:*                                 -
udp        0      0 localhost:48568         localhost:48568         ESTABLISHED -
udp        0      0 localhost:domain        *:*                                 -
udp        0      0 *:ipp                   *:*                                 -
udp        0      0 *:17500                 *:*                                 4103/dropbox
udp        0      0 *:mdns                  *:*                                 -
udp        0      0 *:34271                 *:*                                 -
udp6       0      0 [::]:43649              [::]:*                              -
udp6       0      0 [::]:7777               [::]:*                              6277/java
udp6       0      0 [::]:mdns               [::]:*                              -

Note the entry with local address "[::]:7777".
It is our java udp server. The output also shows the pid (6277) and the command name (java).

Now that our server is up and running, its time to connect to it and verify its working. To connect to a simple server like this a program like telnet is needed.

However the standard telnet utilities that ship with linux do not support udp. Hence we are going to use another utility called ncat. Ncat is a netcat implementation from nmap.

On ubuntu install nmap from synaptic shall also install ncat.

Quick example

$ ncat -vv localhost 7777 -u
Ncat: Version 5.21 ( http://nmap.org/ncat )
Ncat: Connected to 127.0.0.1:7777.

The ncat utility is now connected to our udp server. The 'vv' switch is for very verbose. It shows detailed information of what is going on. The 'u' option is for udp protocol.

Now that we are connected, its time to send some message to the server. Just type something and hit enter.

$ ncat -vv localhost 7777 -u
Ncat: Version 5.21 ( http://nmap.org/ncat )
Ncat: Connected to 127.0.0.1:7777.
hello
OK : hello
how are you
OK : how are you

Ok, so here we can see that the server replies with the same message with "OK : " prepended.
Multiple ncat terminals can connect to this udp server. Open another terminal and connect using the same command and try sending messages from both client terminals.

The server would reply to each. Since the concept of "connection" does not exist in udp, the same loop can handle multiple connections much like the select function of c socket library.

Now that we have tested our server, its time to write a client which shall be used in place of ncat.

UDP Client

Here is the code

/**
	Java ECHO client with UDP sockets example
*/

import java.io.*;
import java.net.*;

public class udp_client
{
	public static void main(String args[])
	{
		DatagramSocket sock = null;
		int port = 7777;
		String s;
		
		BufferedReader cin = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(System.in));
		
		try
		{
			sock = new DatagramSocket();
			
			InetAddress host = InetAddress.getByName("localhost");
			
			while(true)
			{
				//take input and send the packet
				echo("Enter message to send : ");
				s = (String)cin.readLine();
				byte[] b = s.getBytes();
				
				DatagramPacket  dp = new DatagramPacket(b , b.length , host , port);
				sock.send(dp);
				
				//now receive reply
				//buffer to receive incoming data
				byte[] buffer = new byte[65536];
				DatagramPacket reply = new DatagramPacket(buffer, buffer.length);
				sock.receive(reply);
				
				byte[] data = reply.getData();
				s = new String(data, 0, reply.getLength());
				
				//echo the details of incoming data - client ip : client port - client message
				echo(reply.getAddress().getHostAddress() + " : " + reply.getPort() + " - " + s);
			}
		}
		
		catch(IOException e)
		{
			System.err.println("IOException " + e);
		}
	}
	
	//simple function to echo data to terminal
	public static void echo(String msg)
	{
		System.out.println(msg);
	}
}

Run the client

$ javac udp_client.java && java udp_client
Enter message to send :
Hello
127.0.0.1 : 7777 - OK : Hello
Enter message to send :
How are you
127.0.0.1 : 7777 - OK : How are you

Before running the client, make sure that the server is running in another terminal/console.
Whatever message the client sends, is send back with "OK : " added to it. The client the echoes the message onto the terminal.

So this completes the server and client communication using udp sockets.

Conclusion

If you are new to socket programming in Java then check out the previous post on socket programming basics:
Java socket programming Tutorial - How to code Client and Server

If you have any feedback or questions let us know in the comments below.

About Silver Moon

A Tech Enthusiast, Blogger, Linux Fan and a Software Developer. Writes about Computer hardware, Linux and Open Source software and coding in Python, Php and Javascript. He can be reached at [email protected].

10 thoughts on “Udp Socket Programming in Java – How to Code Client and Server

  1. Abdullah

    Getting error:
    Exception in thread “main” java.lang.NullPointerException
    at udp_client.main(udp_client.java:33)

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