Simple Native Interface (SNI)


[SNI] provides a simple mechanism for implementing native Java methods in the C language.

[SNI] allows you to:

  • Call a C function from a Java method.
  • Access an Immortal array in a C function (see the [BON] specification to learn about immortal objects).

[SNI] does not allow you to:

  • Access or create a Java object in a C function.
  • Access Java static variables in a C function.
  • Call Java methods from a C function.

[SNI] provides some Java APIs to manipulate some data arrays between Java and the native (C) world.

Functional Description

[SNI] defines how to cross the barrier between the Java world and the native world:

  • Call a C function from Java.
  • Pass parameters to the C function.
  • Return a value from the C world to the Java world.
  • Manipulate (read & write) shared memory both in Java and C : the immortal space.
SNI Processing

[SNI] Processing

The above illustration shows both Java and C code accesses to shared objects in the immortal space, while also accessing their respective memory.


package example;


 * Abstract class providing a native method to access sensor value.
 * This method will be executed out of virtual machine.
public abstract class Sensor {

    public static final int ERROR = -1;

    public int getValue() throws IOException {
        int sensorID = getSensorID();
        int value = getSensorValue(sensorID);
        if (value == ERROR) {
            throw new IOException("Unsupported sensor");
        return value;

    protected abstract int getSensorID();

    public static native int getSensorValue(int sensorID);

class Potentiometer extends Sensor {

    protected int getSensorID() {
        return Constants.POTENTIOMETER_ID; // POTENTIOMETER_ID is a static final
// File providing an implementation of native method using a C function
            #include <sni.h>
            #include <potentiometer.h>

            #define SENSOR_ERROR (-1)
            #define POTENTIOMETER_ID (3)

            jint Java_example_Sensor_getSensorValue(jint sensor_id){

                if (sensor_id == POTENTIOMETER_ID)
                    return get_potentiometer_value();
                return SENSOR_ERROR;


A call to a native function uses the same RTOS task as the RTOS task used to run all Java green threads. So during this call, the MicroEJ Core Engine cannot schedule other Java threads.

[SNI] defines C functions that provide controls for the green threads’ activities:

  • int32_t SNI_suspendCurrentJavaThread(int64_t timeout): Suspends the execution of the Java thread that initiated the current C call. This function does not block the C execution. The suspension is effective only at the end of the native method call (when the C call returns). The green thread is suspended until either an RTOS task calls SNI_resumeJavaThread, or the specified number of milliseconds has elapsed.
  • int32_t SNI_getCurrentJavaThreadID(void): Permits retrieval of the ID of the current Java thread within the C function (assuming it is a “native Java to C call”). This ID must be given to the SNI_resumeJavaThread function in order to resume execution of the green thread.
  • int32_t SNI_resumeJavaThread(int32_t id): Resumes the green thread with the given ID. If the thread is not suspended, the resume stays pending.
Green Threads and RTOS Task Synchronization

Green Threads and RTOS Task Synchronization

The above illustration shows a green thread (GT3) which has called a native method that executes in C. The C code suspends the thread after having provisioned its ID (e.g. 3). Another RTOS task may later resume the Java green thread.


No dependency.


The [SNI] library is a built-in feature of the platform, so there is no additional dependency to call native code from Java. In the platform configuration file, check Java to C Interface > SNI API to install the additional Java APIs in order to manipulate the data arrays.


The SNI API module must be added to the module.ivy of the MicroEJ Application project, in order to allow access to the [SNI] library.

<dependency org="ej.api" name="sni" rev="1.3.1"/>