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[javaee-spec users] Re: bundle overriding

  • From: michael keith <michael.keith@...>
  • To: users@...
  • Cc: "David M. Lloyd" <david.lloyd@...>, Bill Shannon <bill.shannon@...>, Linda DeMichiel <linda.demichiel@...>
  • Subject: [javaee-spec users] Re: bundle overriding
  • Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 20:29:54 -0500
  • Organization: Oracle Corporation

I appreciate your comments, David.
See inline.

On 28/11/2012 4:04 PM, David M. Lloyd wrote:
Comments inline. Also please note that any time I use the word "module" I am referring to modules as defined in the Java EE specification, not any proposed SE modularity solution, unless I specify otherwise.

On 11/28/2012 01:56 PM, michael keith wrote:
As you know, modularity was recently deferred from SE 8 (and
transitively from EE 8), but since there will now be a longer delay
before core modularity can be leveraged, a few people were wondering if
the spec could provide some specific solutions to some of the more
dominant problems that developers are facing now. The most common one
that modularity would have solved is the "conflicting library problem".
This is when there exists a version of a library that is bundled with
the application but conflicts with a different version of the library
used by the server and that is exposed on the server classpath.

One way to solve this would be to provide a way for an application to
indicate that a bundled library is to be placed on the classpath
*logically ahead* of all server libraries. Most app servers offer some
proprietary solution to this problem, but there is currently no portable
way of doing it. If folks are agreeable then we would like to
standardize a solution in EE 7. We would first like to get your input as
to whether it is worth doing this, though.

Speaking from experience I think it's very safe to say that ordering is not a complete solution by any means, especially because in a simple class path system, classes can "leak through" very easily, and it only solves the most superficial part of the problem ("I can't see the classes I need") in the most superficial way possible ("just layer this one on top of that one and hope for the best"). Any solution that can regularly result in substantially different behavior for applications based upon import order of dependencies is suspect, and is certain to cause the user a great deal of trouble.

Yes, those issues can arise. To reiterate, we are not trying to come up with a complete solution, just asking whether people thought it was worth coming up with a specific solution to a fairly specific problem. Is it your position, then, that a feature of this nature would not be worth offering, or that the value it offered would be offset by the problems that it would introduce?

In conjunction with the above question there is an additional question
relating to the limitation that we would need to impose in this initial
solution. Given that a) the majority of problem occurrences are due to
3rd party libraries being exposed by the server, and b) overriding a
Java EE API library is going to introduce a larger problem space than
what we would likely be able to solve in the time remaining in Java EE,
do you think it is worth providing a soution in EE 7 if that solution
was limited to 3rd party libraries and did not include support for
overriding Java EE APIs? Or, would you prefer to leave it until the next
release and include support for both, or even wait until EE 9 when
modularity will allow a more encompassing solution?

I think that under no circumstances should the packages in the Java SE or EE APIs be overridable by user applications or modules.

One can already override certain packages in Java SE in an SE environment using the "endorsed" mechanism. There are some similar use cases for upgrading certain Java EE APIs in a server as well, but given your answer it sounds like you would not have a problem if the ability to override these was not included immediately (or ever, from the sound of it).

If enough people would like to solve the limited scope probem in EE 7
then we will follow up with a proposal and some additional questions.

I think that it would not be hard to offer a more complete solution without introducing or conflicting with a JDK modularity concept.

To me the range of the problem is as follows:

1) Applications, in some containers, may be able to "see" libraries they don't want to "see" for various reasons (perhaps it provides a SPI implementation that is undesirable, or it conflicts with a library in the application itself)

2) Application and module authors often desire the ability to link to other top-level applications or modules via Class-Path or similar mechanisms

3) Application authors often require the ability to establish non-transitive dependencies between applications, modules or JARs therein

4) The Java EE specification does not clearly or satisfactorily specify the semantics of Class-Path (it could imply that classes are copied between class loaders, or it could imply that class loaders link to one another), though it does clearly state that in most (maybe all) cases, Class-Path always imports the transitive closure of the Class-Paths of the referenced URI

I think that the first steps to cleaning up this mess are as follows:

1) Update the Java EE platform specification to clearly define Class-Path as establishing a link between existing class loaders (possibly allowing for vendor-specific extensions which might perform old-style "class copying" for special cases)

2) Add a provision to the specification to allow for a non-transitive variation of Class-Path

I know where you are coming from, and I agree it would be nice and clean if that were the case. However, the spec has purposely defined class loading in terms of what should be available where, rather than being prescriptive about class loaders, which are really an implementation artifact. The spec does not even prescribe which class loaders actually exist (apart from the context class loader), mostly to allow vendors the flexibility to be able to implement it the way they so choose. I can't see this ever changing (for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that it would likely break backwards compatibility for at least some vendor products), and most certainly not in this release.

3) Add a provision to the specification to allow the application or module to choose what non-mandatory APIs and server libraries are requested, providing for standard (Java SE and EE) and vendor-specific library namespaces (a Java SE modularity solution *could* be used to effect this, but does not *have* to be)

Yeah, this is right down modularity lane. The intent was not to try and solve all of the problems that modularity is going to solve, just get people past one or two of the pain points until modularity is available. I agree solidly with what you you are describing, I just don't think we are in a position to try to tackle it until we have a proper module system to work with.

4) Add a provision to the specification to allow for a vendor-specific mechanism by which the user may add additional libraries to this set

5) Ensure that the specification requires that any imports of such libraries are generally non-transitive with respect to their dependencies (unless specific transitive dependencies are required; i.e. opt-in)

The modularity guy in you is really shining through, here :-)

I know the EE specification has, until now, been pretty careful about avoiding specifying the behavior of class loaders. But, if this problem is to be truly solved (either in conjunction with SE modularity or simply in a way that would allow for future SE modularity), this problem has to be addressed head-on, and I think that these simple steps would make for a much more solid starting point.

At least the last three of these were being planned as part of an EE modularity strategy... until modularity was dropped from SE 8 and it became clear that we weren't going to be able to add modularity into EE until EE 9 (at which point it became somewhat less urgent).

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