Friday, November 22, 2013

ServiceLoader<S> Dynamic Reloading on JEE7 Web Application


We had a technical discussion about updating an application on the fly in Java EE. There were a couple of issues that we were trying to resolve. One was a simple way to add functionality to a web application while deployed, and update the running application. It could be functionality like a new module, or service, or something like, the classic example for the ServiceLoader, codecs.

Additionally, we needed to be able to add the functionality without adding another framework to make it happen. It needed to be something that was available in the existing Java SE/EE APIs. Again, the ServiceLoader seemed to be a possible solution.

I did a Proof of Concept (POC) for using a ServiceLoader to accomplish adding additional services to our application. That worked, but required a restart of the server, or a reload of the application at a minimum. This assumes that the application was NOT auto-deployed. It turns out that worked, but really was only a half-measure. I wanted to see if I could solve the dynamic reloading part, and I did.


Before we see the code, how does it work in general. We use the ServiceLoader which is part of the Service Provider Interface (SPI) functionality of Java. It is a hidden gem for those who need it, and framework creators can take advantage of this simple, easy to use technology. The ServiceLoader is managed by a Singleton that returns an instance of the ServiceLoader that will return our SPI implementations. In my example, I create an interface that is packaged separately in its own jar and is shared between the deployed web application and the service implementations. The ServiceLoader loads this interface and makes the implementations available. The cool part is that our Singleton class also has some cool NIO and NIO.2 help with the ZipFileSystemProvider to load the implementations from newly added jars. It also has some demo of how to use a URLClassLoader to add our new implementations and update the ServiceLoader.

The code for the project can be found here:

Here is our interface that is common between the web service and the SPI implementations.

This simple interface will allow me to demonstrate the power of the SPI. Here is an implementation of the API.


This class is the magic behind the SPI and allows us to dyanmically reload the new implementations as we add them to the WEB-INF/lib directory.


The SPI file located in the META-INF/services directory of your jar file. This is one version, but each implementation would have its own. The file name is the same as the interface, and the listings on each line are concrete implementations.

This bean has a cool NIO method of handling uploaded files. So I thought I would add it. Combined with PrimeFaces, it is functional and pretty.


If you need to add some additional functionality to a web application, and reload it on the fly, Give the ServiceLoader a try. You might just be impressed.


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