Module java.base
Package java.util

Class ResourceBundle

Direct Known Subclasses:
ListResourceBundle, PropertyResourceBundle

public abstract class ResourceBundle extends Object
Resource bundles contain locale-specific objects. When your program needs a locale-specific resource, a String for example, your program can load it from the resource bundle that is appropriate for the current user's locale. In this way, you can write program code that is largely independent of the user's locale isolating most, if not all, of the locale-specific information in resource bundles.

This allows you to write programs that can:

  • be easily localized, or translated, into different languages
  • handle multiple locales at once
  • be easily modified later to support even more locales

Resource bundles belong to families whose members share a common base name, but whose names also have additional components that identify their locales. For example, the base name of a family of resource bundles might be "MyResources". The family should have a default resource bundle which simply has the same name as its family - "MyResources" - and will be used as the bundle of last resort if a specific locale is not supported. The family can then provide as many locale-specific members as needed, for example a German one named "MyResources_de".

Each resource bundle in a family contains the same items, but the items have been translated for the locale represented by that resource bundle. For example, both "MyResources" and "MyResources_de" may have a String that's used on a button for canceling operations. In "MyResources" the String may contain "Cancel" and in "MyResources_de" it may contain "Abbrechen".

If there are different resources for different countries, you can make specializations: for example, "MyResources_de_CH" contains objects for the German language (de) in Switzerland (CH). If you want to only modify some of the resources in the specialization, you can do so.

When your program needs a locale-specific object, it loads the ResourceBundle class using the getBundle method:

ResourceBundle myResources =
     ResourceBundle.getBundle("MyResources", currentLocale);

Resource bundles contain key/value pairs. The keys uniquely identify a locale-specific object in the bundle. Here's an example of a ListResourceBundle that contains two key/value pairs:

public class MyResources extends ListResourceBundle {
    protected Object[][] getContents() {
        return new Object[][] {
            {"OkKey", "OK"},
            {"CancelKey", "Cancel"},
Keys are always Strings. In this example, the keys are "OkKey" and "CancelKey". In the above example, the values are also Strings--"OK" and "Cancel"--but they don't have to be. The values can be any type of object.

You retrieve an object from resource bundle using the appropriate getter method. Because "OkKey" and "CancelKey" are both strings, you would use getString to retrieve them:

button1 = new Button(myResources.getString("OkKey"));
button2 = new Button(myResources.getString("CancelKey"));
The getter methods all require the key as an argument and return the object if found. If the object is not found, the getter method throws a MissingResourceException.

Besides getString, ResourceBundle also provides a method for getting string arrays, getStringArray, as well as a generic getObject method for any other type of object. When using getObject, you'll have to cast the result to the appropriate type. For example:

int[] myIntegers = (int[]) myResources.getObject("intList");

The Java Platform provides two subclasses of ResourceBundle, ListResourceBundle and PropertyResourceBundle, that provide a fairly simple way to create resources. As you saw briefly in a previous example, ListResourceBundle manages its resource as a list of key/value pairs. PropertyResourceBundle uses a properties file to manage its resources.

If ListResourceBundle or PropertyResourceBundle do not suit your needs, you can write your own ResourceBundle subclass. Your subclasses must override two methods: handleGetObject and getKeys().

The implementation of a ResourceBundle subclass must be thread-safe if it's simultaneously used by multiple threads. The default implementations of the non-abstract methods in this class, and the methods in the direct known concrete subclasses ListResourceBundle and PropertyResourceBundle are thread-safe.

Resource Bundles and Named Modules

Resource bundles can be deployed in modules in the following ways:

Resource bundles together with an application

Resource bundles can be deployed together with an application in the same module. In that case, the resource bundles are loaded by code in the module by calling the getBundle(String) or getBundle(String, Locale) method.

Resource bundles as service providers

Resource bundles can be deployed in one or more service provider modules and they can be located using ServiceLoader. A service interface or class must be defined. The caller module declares that it uses the service, the service provider modules declare that they provide implementations of the service. Refer to ResourceBundleProvider for developing resource bundle services and deploying resource bundle providers. The module obtaining the resource bundle can be a resource bundle provider itself; in which case this module only locates the resource bundle via service provider mechanism.

A resource bundle provider can provide resource bundles in any format such XML which replaces the need of ResourceBundle.Control.

Resource bundles in other modules and class path

Resource bundles in a named module may be encapsulated so that it cannot be located by code in other modules. Resource bundles in unnamed modules and class path are open for any module to access. Resource bundle follows the resource encapsulation rules as specified in Module.getResourceAsStream(String).

The getBundle factory methods with no Control parameter locate and load resource bundles from service providers. It may continue the search as if calling Module.getResourceAsStream(String) to find the named resource from a given module and calling ClassLoader.getResourceAsStream(String); refer to the specification of the getBundle method for details. Only non-encapsulated resource bundles of "java.class" or "" format are searched.

If the caller module is a resource bundle provider, it does not fall back to the class loader search.

In cases where the getBundle factory method is called from a context where there is no caller frame on the stack (e.g. when called directly from a JNI attached thread), the caller module is default to the unnamed module for the system class loader.

Resource bundles in automatic modules

A common format of resource bundles is in .properties file format. Typically .properties resource bundles are packaged in a JAR file. Resource bundle only JAR file can be readily deployed as an automatic module. For example, if the JAR file contains the entry "p/q/" and no .class entry, when resolved and defined as an automatic module, no package is derived for this module. This allows resource bundles in .properties format packaged in one or more JAR files that may contain entries in the same directory and can be resolved successfully as automatic modules.


The ResourceBundle.Control class provides information necessary to perform the bundle loading process by the getBundle factory methods that take a ResourceBundle.Control instance. You can implement your own subclass in order to enable non-standard resource bundle formats, change the search strategy, or define caching parameters. Refer to the descriptions of the class and the getBundle factory method for details.

ResourceBundle.Control is designed for an application deployed in an unnamed module, for example to support resource bundles in non-standard formats or package localized resources in a non-traditional convention. ResourceBundleProvider is the replacement for ResourceBundle.Control when migrating to modules. UnsupportedOperationException will be thrown when a factory method that takes the ResourceBundle.Control parameter is called.

For the getBundle factory methods that take no ResourceBundle.Control instance, their default behavior of resource bundle loading can be modified with custom ResourceBundleControlProvider implementations. If any of the providers provides a ResourceBundle.Control for the given base name, that ResourceBundle.Control will be used instead of the default ResourceBundle.Control. If there is more than one service provider for supporting the same base name, the first one returned from ServiceLoader will be used. A custom ResourceBundle.Control implementation is ignored by named modules.

Cache Management

Resource bundle instances created by the getBundle factory methods are cached by default, and the factory methods return the same resource bundle instance multiple times if it has been cached. getBundle clients may clear the cache, manage the lifetime of cached resource bundle instances using time-to-live values, or specify not to cache resource bundle instances. Refer to the descriptions of the getBundle factory method, clearCache, ResourceBundle.Control.getTimeToLive, and ResourceBundle.Control.needsReload for details.


The following is a very simple example of a ResourceBundle subclass, MyResources, that manages two resources (for a larger number of resources you would probably use a Map). Notice that you don't need to supply a value if a "parent-level" ResourceBundle handles the same key with the same value (as for the okKey below).
// default (English language, United States)
public class MyResources extends ResourceBundle {
    public Object handleGetObject(String key) {
        if (key.equals("okKey")) {
           return "Ok";
        if (key.equals("cancelKey")) {
           return "Cancel";
        return null;

    public Enumeration<String> getKeys() {
        return Collections.enumeration(keySet());

    // Overrides handleKeySet() so that the getKeys() implementation
    // can rely on the keySet() value.
    protected Set<String> handleKeySet() {
        return new HashSet<String>(Arrays.asList("okKey", "cancelKey"));

// German language
public class MyResources_de extends MyResources {
    public Object handleGetObject(String key) {
        // don't need okKey, since parent level handles it.
        if (key.equals("cancelKey")) {
           return "Abbrechen";
        return null;

    protected Set<String> handleKeySet() {
        return new HashSet<String>(Arrays.asList("cancelKey"));
You do not have to restrict yourself to using a single family of ResourceBundles. For example, you could have a set of bundles for exception messages, ExceptionResources (ExceptionResources_fr, ExceptionResources_de, ...), and one for widgets, WidgetResource (WidgetResources_fr, WidgetResources_de, ...); breaking up the resources however you like.
See Also: