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What is the Java® Message Service?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Java® message service is a module of the larger Java® programming language that is designed to quickly and efficiently transfer packets of data from one point to another. It’s commonly used by e-mail service providers and instant messaging platforms, and is also a core part of most short message service (SMS) communications, frequently known as “text messages,” over mobile networks. Many different electronic platforms run on or at least use Java® generally. The messaging service typically requires that the programming language be running first, and it can be seen as something of an add-on or second layer. It is based on message-oriented middleware, at least from a technological perspective. Many different businesses rely on this sort of messaging medium to share information quickly and to both create and maintain contacts in the digital space.

Components and Functionality

Java® message services (JMS) can generally be seen as a means of sending and managing electronic messages. The service will only work with technologies that are running the Java® language, though this language is more ubiquitous than many people realize. Most computers, tablets, and mobile phones use it, and it runs underneath or behind other operating systems. Its main job is to run “scripts,” which are codes and series of codes that help translate the numeric language of the Internet into visible text and graphics.

The messaging service module is built on the concepts of message-oriented middleware (MOM), which has been used for several decades as a standard way for sending messages between computers. JMS is considered a generic version of MOM because it includes several functions that work with multiple types of messages. This makes it more flexible than other messaging programs because it will work with many message formats and protocols. Java® programmers who require a standard message framework typically use the module, and it’s also very common in business and commerce generally.

Technological Reach

JMS powers a wide range of commonly used messaging technologies, including most SMS transmissions and many e-mail and instant message communications. Most of this is done at the server level. When a user inputs a message, the Java®-running device encodes it and the JMS program on the host server will coordinate the transmission to the recipient’s device, computer, or mainframe. Usually this server is housed with an Internet service provider (ISP) or cellular data provider.

Many of the functions available in Java® message service module have also been incorporated into other Java® technologies. This includes timers, message-driven bean technology, and auditing controls. This integration of technology can be attributed to the advanced features of JMS, which has set the standard on message management services.

Business-to-Business Functions

JMS is often used as a software technology for business-to-business (B2B) functions. This makes it easier for companies to manage inventory because requests can send be quickly sent in electronic messages. As such, the service allows businesses to communicate quickly with suppliers and customers.

Additionally, the Java® development community generally uses JMS as the default method for building message-based applications. This module is typically included as a default installation for many commercial messaging products including IBM MQSeries®. This wide adoption of Java® message service makes it a good option for companies looking for a standard message technology.

Learning the Language

Actually understanding the message service on a technical level, as is needed for people interested in coding or those who are interested in setting up messaging platforms of their own, can be quite complex. Learning the system usually requires practice and special training on how to manage message traffic across a network. A number of schools offer seminars on JMS, usually through their computer engineering departments, and many tutorials are available online, too. In general, students need to have a basic understanding of MOM concepts before attempting to learn the JMS programming module.

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