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This document serves as migration guide for code previously targeted to the Nashorn engine. See the for an overview of supported Java interoperability features.

Both Nashorn and Graal JavaScript support a similar set of syntax and semantics for Java interoperability. The most important differences relevant for migration are listed here.

Nashorn features available by default:

  • Java.type, Java.typeName
  • Java.from,
  • Java.extend, Java.super
  • Java package globals: Packages, java, javafx, javax, com, org, edu

Nashorn compatibility mode

Graal JavaScript provides a Nashorn compatibility mode. Some of the functionality necessary for Nashorn compatibility is only available when this flag is set. This is the case for Nashorn-specific extensions that Graal JavaScript does not want to expose by default.

$ js --js.nashorn-compat=true

When you start from a Java application, set the flag on Java invocation:

$ java -Dpolyglot.js.nashorn-compat=true MyApplication

Functionality only available under this flag includes:

  • Java.isJavaFunction, Java.isJavaMethod, Java.isScriptObject, Java.isScriptFunction
  • new Interface|AbstractClass(fn|obj)
  • JavaImporter
  • JSAdapter
  • java.lang.String methods on string values
  • load("nashorn:parser.js"), load("nashorn:mozilla_compat.js")

Nashorn syntax extensions can be enabled using --js.syntax-extensions=true or -Dpolyglot.js.syntax-extensions=true.

Intentional design differences

Graal JavaScript differs from Nashorn in some aspects that were intentional design decisions.

Launcher name js

When shipped with GraalVM, Graal JavaScript comes with a binary launcher named js. Note that, depending on the build setup, GraalVM might still ship Nashorn and its jjs launcher.

ScriptEngine name graal.js

Graal JavaScript is shipped with ScriptEngine support. It registers under several names, including "graal.js", "JavaScript", "js". Be sure to activate the Nashorn compatibility mode as described above if you need full Nashorn compatibility. Depending on the build setup, GraalVM might still ship Nashorn and provide it via ScriptEngine.


Graal JavaScript supports a class filter when starting with a polyglot Context. See the JavaDoc of Context.Builder.hostClassFilter

Fully qualified names

Graal Javascript requires the use of Java.type(typename). It does not support accessing classes just by their fully qualified class name by default. Java.type brings more clarity and avoids the accidental use of Java classes in JavaScript code. Patterns like this:

var bd = new java.math.BigDecimal('10');

should be expressed as:

var BigDecimal = Java.type('java.math.BigDecimal');
var bd = new BigDecimal('10');

Lossy conversion

Graal JavaScript does not allow lossy conversions of arguments when calling Java methods. This could lead to bugs with numeric values that are hard to detect.

Graal JavaScript will always select the overloaded method with the narrowest possible argument types that can be converted to without loss. If no such overloaded method is available, Graal JavaScript throws a TypeError instead of lossy conversion. In general, this affects which overloaded method is executed.

ScriptObjectMirror objects

Graal JavaScript does not provide objects of the class ScriptObjectMirror. Instead, JavaScript objects are exposed to Java code as objects implementing Java's Map interface.

Code referencing ScriptObjectMirror instances can be rewritten by changing the type to either an interface (Map, List) or the polyglot Value class which provides similar capabilities.


Graal JavaScript supports multithreading by creating several Context objects from Java code. Contexts can be shared between threads, but each context must be accessed by a single thread at a time. Multiple JavaScript engines can be created from a Java application, and can be safely executed in parallel on multiple threads.

Context polyglot = Context.create();
Value array = polyglot.eval("js", "[1,2,42,4]");

Graal JavaScript does not allow the creation of threads from JavaScript applications with access to the current Context. Moreover, Graal JavaScript does not allow concurrent threads to access the same Context at the same time. This could lead to unmanagable synchronization problems like data races in a language that is not prepared for multithreading.

new Thread(function() {
    print('printed from another thread'); // throws Exception due to potential synchronization problems

JavaScript code can create and start threads with Runnables implemented in Java. The child thread may not access the Context of the parent thread or of any other polyglot thread. In case of violations, an IllegalStateException will be thrown. A child thread may create a new Context instance, though.

new Thread(aJavaRunnable).start(); // allowed on Graal JavaScript

With proper synchronization in place, multiple contexts can be shared between different threads. Example Java applications using Graal JavaScript Contexts from multiple threads can be found here.

Extensions only available in Nashorn compatibility mode

The following extensions to JavaScript available in Nashorn are deactivated in Graal JavaScript by default. They are provided in GraalVM's Nashorn compatibility mode. It is highly recommended not to implement new applications based on those features, but only to use it as a means to migrate existing applications to GraalVM.

String length property

Graal JavaScript does not treat the length property of a String specially. The canonical way of accessing the String length is reading the length property.


Nashorn allows to both access length as a property and a function. Existing function calls length() should be expressed as property access. Nashorn behavior is mimicked in the Nashorn compatibility mode.

Java packages in the JavaScript global object

Graal JavaScript requires the use of Java.type instead of fully qualified names. In Nashorn compatibility mode, the following Java package are added to the JavaScript global object: java, javafx, javax, com, org, edu.


The JavaImporter feature is available only in Nashorn compatibility mode.


Use of the non-standard JSAdapter is discouraged and should be replaced with the equivalent standard Proxy feature. For compatibility, JSAdapter is still available in Nashorn compatibility mode.

Java.* methods

Several methods provided by Nashorn on the Java global object are available only in Nashorn compatibility mode or currently not supported by Graal JavaScript. Available in Nashorn compatibility mode are: Java.isJavaFunction, Java.isJavaMethod, Java.isScriptObject, Java.isScriptFunction. Currently not supported: Java.asJSONCompatible.


In Nashorn compatibility mode, Graal JavaScript allows to access getters and setters just by the name as properties, while omitting get, set, or is.

var Date = Java.type('java.util.Date');
var date = new Date();

var myYear = date.year; // calls date.getYear()
date.year = myYear + 1; // calls date.setYear(myYear + 1);

Graal JavaScript defines an ordering in which it searches for the field or getters. It will always first try to read or write the field with the name as provided in the property. If the field cannot be read or written, it will try to call a getter or setter:

  • In case of a read operation, Graal JavaScript will first try to call a getter with the name get and the property name in camel case. If that is not available, a getter with the name is and the property name in camel case is called. In the second case, the value is returned even if it is not of type boolean.
  • In case of a write operation, Graal JavaScript will try to call a setter with the name set and the property name in camel case, providing the value as argument to that function.

Nashorn can expose random behavior when both getFieldName and isFieldName are available. Nashorn also gives precedence to getters, even when a public field of the exact name is available.

Additional aspects to consider

Features of Graal JavaScript

Graal JavaScript supports features of the newest ECMAScript specification and some extensions to that, see Note that this e.g. adds objects to the global scope that might interfere with existing source code unaware of those extensions.

Console output

Graal JavaScript provides a print builtin function compatible with Nashorn.

Note that Graal JavaScript also provides a console.log function. This is an alias for print in pure JavaScript mode, but uses an implementation provided by Node.js when running in Node mode. Behavior around Java objects differs for console.log in Node mode as Node.js does not implement special treatment for such objects.