Core Java

JShell in Five Minutes

This post builds on my My Top Java 9 Features post by looking more in depth at these features. Here we show you how you can learn jshell in five minutes, and improve your Java 9 development experience.

Getting Started

Assuming you have downloaded, and installed Java 9 then you can start the shell by typing –


Or if you want verbose –

C:\jdk9TestGround>jshell -v
| Welcome to JShell -- Version 9
| For an introduction type: /help intro


Simply type the variable, with or without semi-colons –

jshell> int i = 1;
i ==> 1
| created variable i : int

Unassigned values are automatically assigned to a variable beginning with $

jshell> "Hello World"
$1 ==> "Hello World"
| created scratch variable $1 : String

This means we can reuse the value later –

jshell> System.out.println($1);
Hello World

Control Flows

The next step in jshell is to use control flows (for, if, while, …). We can do this by entering our condition, using return for each new line –

jshell> if ("Hello World".equals($1)) {
 ...> System.out.println("Woohoo my if condition works");
 ...> }
Woohoo my if condition works

A quick tip is to use TAB for code completion


We can declare a method in a similar way as Flow control, and press

for each new line –

jshell> String helloWorld() {
 ...> return "hello world";
 ...> }
| created method helloWorld()

Then call it –

jshell> System.out.println(helloWorld());
hello world

We can also change methods in our shell, and have methods calling methods that arent defined yet –

jshell> String helloWorld() {
 ...> return forwardReferencing();
 ...> }
| modified method helloWorld(), however, it cannot be invoked until method forwardReferencing() is declared
| update overwrote method helloWorld()

Now we fix the method –

jshell> String forwardReferencing() {
 ...> return "forwardReferencing";
 ...> }
| created method forwardReferencing()
| update modified method helloWorld()


We can also define classes in jshell –

jshell> class HelloWorld {
 ...> public String helloWorldClass() {
 ...> return "helloWorldClass";
 ...> }
 ...> }
| created class HelloWorld

And assign and access them –


Useful Commands

Now we’ve got the basics here are some quick commands –

TabCode completion
/varslist of variables in the current shell
/methodslist of methods in current shell
/listAll code snippets in jshell session
/importsCurrent imports in the shell
/methodslist of methods in current shell
/typesCurrent classes defined in the shell, in the case above we would see “class HelloWorld”
/editLets you edit your session in an editor(default to JEditPad)
/exitclose session
Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Martin Farrell, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Introduction to Java Virtual Machine (JVM)

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

Martin Farrell

Martin is a Software Developer and Consultant specializing in Java and the Spring Framework. When not coding he spends time with his wife and two children, or cycling his bike.
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