Ability to decompile a Java class file is quite helpful for any Java developer who wants to look into the source of any open source or propriety library used in project. Though I always prefer to attach source in Eclipse of most common libraries like JDK but it’s not always possible with increasing number of dependencies. Java decompiler (a program which can decompile Java class files to produce source files) is very helpful on such situation. By using Java decompiler you can easily check out source of any .class file. Thanks to Eclipse IDE and increasing number of free plug-in available for Java developers, You can have powerful Java decompile in your armory. Earlier I used to used JadEclipse an Eclipse plugin which works well with JAD decompiler but knowing about JAD decompiler is not supporting Java 1.5 source, I was in hunt of another suitable and useful Eclipse plugin which can decompile .class file. My search ends with JD-Eclipse , this is another free Eclipse plugin for non commercial and personal use which helps you to get source from class files. JD-Eclipse is easy to install and its site has detailed step by step guide on how to install JD-Eclipse plug-in. If you are already familiar with Eclipse plugin installation than it just a cake walk.
How to decompile Class file in Eclipse IDE
Once you have JD-Eclipse installed and running, you probably need to restart Eclipse once you installed plug-in. You are ready to decompile Java class file from Eclipse. In order to decompile class file, just open any of your Java project and go to Maven dependencies of libraries to see the jar files included in your project. Just expand any jar file for which you don't have source attached in Eclipse and click on .class file. Now you can see the source code for that file in Java editor, simple and elegant isn't it. Though I highly recommend to attach source code for JAR in Eclipse, at least for frequently used libraries like JDK or Spring as quality of decompiled code and original code is different. Original code gives better visibility and also shows comment while decompiled code is just bare minimum version.
How to decompile class file in Java – javap command example
Even with powerful Eclipse IDE and plugin, we may some time needs to work on command prompt especially while working in Linux development servers and its not convenient to switch back and fourth for quick look on .class file or get some information from compiled form of source. Thanks to javap command you can decompile class file on the fly in command prompt. javap is standard binary which comes with JDK installation and resides in JAVA_HOME/bin directory. javap is similar to javac (java compiler) and work directly with .class file. In order to use javap command you must have JAVA_HOME in your system path. you can verify this by typing "javap" in command prompt and if it doesn't complain and instead show some output like below than you are good to go. If it doesn't recognize the command means you need to set path, check how to set path in java more detailed steps.
Now let's see what javap command offers us. We have a simple Java class with one field and one method.
So it looks javap only provides information related to method in .class file. It also state the constructor even default constructor added by Java compiler. javap can provide more information depending upon its command line option like -private will show all private members. here is an example of running javap command with -private option:
How to see bytecode from .class file
javap command can also show bytecodes form compiled class files. Just run javap with -c option and it will print byte codes of class file, as shown in below example:
That's all on how to decompile class files in Java and Eclipse IDE. JD-Eclipse is an easy to use eclipse plugin and has detailed installation steps documented. if you are running on JDK lower than Java 5 than You can still use famous JAD decompiler and JADEclipse plug-in. Apart from these are many more which I haven't try. Just go to Eclipse market place and you will see lot of those.
Relate Eclipse shortcuts and tutorials from Javarevisited Blog