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Java SDK reference

Read time: 2 minutes
Last edited: Aug 12, 2022


This topic documents how to get started with the Java SDK, and links to reference information on all of the supported features.

SDK quick links

LaunchDarkly's SDKs are open source. In addition to this reference guide, we provide source, API reference documentation, and sample applications:

SDK API documentationSDK API docs
GitHub repositoryjava-server-sdk
Sample applicationshello-java (Java)
hello-scala (Scala)
hello-clojure (Clojure)
You can also use this SDK with Kotlin
Published moduleMaven
For use in server-side applications only

This SDK is intended for use in multi-user Java server applications. If you have an Android application and want to set up LaunchDarkly in a mobile, desktop, or embedded application, read the Android SDK reference.

To learn more about LaunchDarkly's different SDK types, read Client-side and server-side SDKs.

SDK version compatibility

The LaunchDarkly Java SDK, version 5.0 and higher, is compatible with Java 8 and higher.

Prior to version 5.0, the LaunchDarkly Java SDK also supported Java 7.

Getting started

After you complete the Getting Started process, follow these instructions to start using the LaunchDarkly SDK in your Java application.

First, install the LaunchDarkly SDK as a dependency in your application using your application's dependency manager. Refer to the SDK releases page to identify the latest version.

In this example, it uses version 5.9.0:

// or in Gradle:
implementation group: 'com.launchdarkly', name: 'launchdarkly-java-server-sdk', version: '5.9.0'

Next, import the LaunchDarkly client in your application code.

import com.launchdarkly.sdk.*;
import com.launchdarkly.sdk.server.*;

After you install and import the SDK, create a single, shared instance of LDClient. Specify your SDK key here to authorize your application to connect to a particular environment within LaunchDarkly.

Here's how:

LDClient client = new LDClient("YOUR_SDK_KEY");
LDClient must be a singleton

It's important to make LDClient a singleton. The client instance maintains internal state that allows LaunchDarkly to serve feature flags without making any remote requests. Do not instantiate a new client with every request.

You can use client to check which variation a particular user will receive for a given feature flag.

Here's how:

LDUser user = new LDUser.Builder("example-user-key")
boolean flagValue = client.boolVariation(FEATURE_FLAG_KEY, user, false);
if (flagValue) {
// Application code to show the feature
else {
// The code to run if the feature is off

Using the Java SDK in OSGi

You can install versions 4.6.0 and higher of the SDK as OSGi bundles.

The SDK's default jar, which it gets from Maven or Gradle if you do not specify a "classifier", does not contain Gson or SLF4j because applications are often built with their own specific versions of those libraries. Using the default jar in OSGi requires Gson and SLF4j to be provided by some other bundle.

However, there is also a distribution that includes Gson and SLF4j as part of the SDK bundle. You can use this if you do not need to control the versions of those libraries separately.

To do so, add the classifier "all":

<!-- in Maven: -->
// or in Gradle:
Potential network connectivity issues caused by DNS caching

There is a potential problem for any Java application that communicates with a web service, such as LaunchDarkly, that also uses a load-balancing framework. If a service starts to use a different set of IP addresses, a Java application could continue trying to use an old IP address, causing connection attempts to fail. In most environments, this is unlikely to be a problem because IP addresses are not cached for very long.

However, Java has special behavior if the runtime environment has a security manager. In that case, it caches IP addresses indefinitely and doesn't update them until the application is restarted. If you are running in an environment that has a security manager, or if you're not sure whether that is the case, we recommend that you set the cache duration (TTL) explicitly. To learn how, read Setting the JVM TTL for DNS Name Lookups.

Lastly, shut down the client when your application terminates. To learn more, read Shutting down.

Supported features

This SDK supports the following features: