Marker interface in Java: Valuable Insights

What is a Marker Interface in Java?

A marker interface in Java refers to a special type of interface that does not contain any methods or fields. Its primary purpose is to mark or tag classes that implement the interface, indicating that those classes possess a specific characteristic or behavior.

Marker Interface in Java

Why we need a Marker Interface in Java?

Marker interfaces are used in Java to categorize objects, enable runtime type checking, indicate eligibility for specific operations or functionalities, integrate with frameworks and libraries, serve as documentation and contracts, and ensure compatibility and extensibility. They provide a simple and effective way to convey metadata and characteristics without adding methods or fields to classes.

Examples of Built-in Marker Interface in Java

Here are a few examples of marker interfaces in Java:


The Serializable marker interface is defined in the package. By implementing this interface, a class indicates that its objects can be serialized and deserialized, allowing them to be converted into a byte stream for storage or network transmission.

public class MyClass implements Serializable {
    // Class implementation


The Cloneable marker interface is defined in the java.lang package. Implementing this interface indicates that a class supports the clone() method, allowing objects of that class to be cloned.

public class MyClass implements Cloneable {
    // Class implementation


The Remote marker interface is part of the Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI) framework. By implementing this interface, a class can be used for remote method invocation, enabling communication between distributed Java applications.

public class MyRemoteClass implements Remote {
    // Class implementation


The SingleThreadModel is a deprecated marker interface in Java, but it was used in earlier versions of the Java Servlet API. It indicated that a servlet implementation was not thread-safe and should only be accessed by a single thread at a time.

public class MyServlet implements SingleThreadModel {
    // Servlet implementation

How to implement custom maker interface?

We can implement custom marker interface in Java.

Here’s an example of creating a custom marker interface:

public interface Printable {
    // Empty marker interface

Once you have defined the custom marker interface, you can implement it in classes that possess the associated characteristic or behavior:

public class MyClass implements Printable {
    // Class implementation

Implementing the custom marker interface Printable in the MyClass indicates that objects of MyClass possess the characteristic of being printable.

Custom marker interfaces can be useful for categorizing or tagging classes within your application. They provide a way to define and identify specific capabilities or characteristics that are meaningful within the context of your codebase.

Marker Interface vs Annotation

ParameterMarker InterfaceAnnotation
DefinitionAn interface without methods or fieldsA special type of interface with metadata
PurposeMark or tag classes with a specific featureAttach metadata or attributes to elements
Method/FieldDoes not contain any methods or fieldsMay contain methods, fields, or parameters
UsageImplement the interface in classesApply annotations to classes or elements
Type InformationIndicates a characteristic or behaviorProvides metadata or attributes
Compiler HandlingCompiler does not provide special handlingCompiler may process annotations at build
ReflectionCan be queried using reflection APIsCan be queried using reflection APIs
ExtensibilityLimited extensibility and customizationMore extensible with options and values
Default ValuesNo provision for default valuesCan have default values for attributes
Targeted ElementsApplies to the class implementing the markerCan be applied to various program elements
Runtime VisibilityNot visible at runtime by defaultCan be retained and accessed at runtime
Scenarios– When marking classes with a specific capability– When adding metadata or attributes to elements
– When categorizing classes based on behavior– When providing configuration or instructions
– When integrating with existing frameworks or APIs– When enabling conditional behavior or logic
– When defining a common contract for classes– When enabling compile-time checks or validation
– When signaling eligibility for specific operations

Use cases of Marker Interface in Java

Marker interface in Java can be used for different scenarios. Some common use cases for marker interfaces include:

  1. Categorization and Identification: Marker interfaces can be used to categorize or identify classes based on specific characteristics or behaviors. For example, the Serializable marker interface categorizes classes that can be serialized, while the Cloneable marker interface identifies classes that can be cloned.
  2. Runtime Type Checking: Marker interfaces enable runtime type checking, allowing code to determine if an object belongs to a specific category. This can be useful for conditional operations or applying specialized logic based on the presence of a marker interface.
  3. Enabling Additional Functionality: Marker interfaces can indicate that a class is eligible for specific operations or functionalities. Frameworks, libraries, or runtime environments may use marker interfaces to determine whether certain actions or enhancements can be applied to an object.
  4. Integration with Frameworks and Libraries: Many frameworks and libraries in Java rely on marker interfaces to identify and handle specific types of objects. By implementing the required marker interfaces, your classes can seamlessly integrate with these external systems, gaining access to their features and capabilities.
  5. Documentation and Contracts: Marker interfaces serve as a form of documentation and contracts. They communicate to developers the expected behavior or capabilities of a class. When other developers encounter a class implementing a marker interface, they immediately understand its intended purpose or functionality.
  6. Compatibility and Extensibility: Marker interfaces provide a way to design classes that are compatible with future enhancements or extensions. By implementing a marker interface, classes can signal their readiness to adopt new features or participate in extended functionality.
  7. Conditional Behavior or Logic: Marker interfaces can be used to enable conditional behavior or logic based on the presence or absence of a marker interface. Code can check for the presence of a marker interface and perform specific actions accordingly.


In conclusion, the Marker Interface in Java is a powerful mechanism that allows classes to be marked or tagged with specific characteristics or behaviors. By implementing marker interfaces, classes can categorize objects, enable runtime type checking, and indicate eligibility for certain operations or functionalities. Marker interfaces play a crucial role in integrating with frameworks and libraries, providing documentation and contracts, and ensuring compatibility and extensibility. With the Marker Interface in Java, developers have a flexible tool to convey metadata and enable conditional behavior, enhancing the versatility and functionality of their codebase.

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