January 22, 2009

Configuring Apache Felix to host web applications

I have been doing lot of work on OSGi technologies lately. Recently we have seen many application server move from their core server technologies to OSGi based ones. In this article we will see how to configure Apache Felix to host simple web applications built using JSP and servlet technology.

We have less stuff to do. Thanks to the community, all you need to do is download the necessary bundles, make your WARs an OSGi bundle and finally load all the bundles on an OSGi runtime.

OPS4J community provides us the necessary bundles that help us host WAR files. We will use OPS4J three projects: Pax Web, Pax Web Extender and Pax logging.

Pax web is a OSGi R4 HTTP Service implementation using Jetty 6.

Pax Web Extender is a project that extends and adds more functionality to Pax web. The extender project has three modules: Pax Web Extender – War, Pax Web Extender – Whiteboard and Pax URL. We will be using the Pax Web Extender – War bundle. The bundle that makes possible to deploy WAR files into OSGi runtime.

And finally, Pax logging provides an OSGi logging service and API. It is built on top of log4j and supports Jakarta Commons Logging API, Log4J Logger API, JDK Logging, Avalon Logger API, Knopflerfish Log and Tomcat Juli in both your own code and in third party libraries.

You can download these from OPS4J site.

Build your web application on any IDE or compile it into a war using Ant. But before deployment we need to ensure that the archive is a valid bundle. To make the web application a bundle we need to have the following manifest headers in META-INF/MANIFEST.MF.

Bundle-ManifestVersion: 2 -- This header defines that the bundle follows R4 specification.
Bundle-SymbolicName -- This header specifies a unique, non-localizable name for the bundle.
Bundle-ClassPath –- This header specifies list of all JAR and resources in your bundle. Each entry is separated by comma and the root directory is represented by period. Example: Bundle-ClassPath: .,WEB-INF/classes,lib/commons-logging.jar,lib/spring.jar
Import-Package -- This header defines the list of packages that your application depends on. All necessary J2EE packages would come here.

Additionally, you can have some optional headers like
Webapp-Context -- The header defines the context path. Please note that this is not a standard OSGi header.

You may also include other standard OSGi headers for adding information to the bundle. Once you have the WAR file with modified manifest information we are ready to deploy our application. Deployment is simple the installation of the bundle.

You can install the bundle using the install command from the Felix shell or modify the conf/config.properties. Once installed, check if the bundle’s state is active and then access your web application using your browser.

Caution: Please note that, if you have created your WAR using Netbeans you will have sun-web.xml. More than one configuration file causes resource registration failure in Pax Web Extender. You will have to remove this file.

For now we have only used one of the modules from Pax Web Extender. You may try other modules as they also provide interesting functionalities for a developer.

January 15, 2009

Building a "Hello World" service using iPOJO

iPOJO stands for injected POJO. It’s a component model from Apache on top of OSGi. It is very flexible, extensible and easy to adapt. It removed the overhead of developer handling services in OSGi. Let’s have a look how to build a simple service using iPOJO and consume it.

OSGi is about modularizing your application. In our demo, we will have three projects (or three bundles) that will be deployed on Apache Felix. I suggest you download the following tools and ligraries before we start out with our project.
1.Apache Felix: http://felix.apache.org/
2.iPOJO library: http://felix.apache.org/
3.Ant: http://ant.apache.org/
4.Bnd tool from aQute: http://www.aqute.biz/Code/Bnd

The Problem Statement

Our problem is going to be very simple. Our service is a simple OSGi service that will display the string “Hello World”.

Getting Started

Like any OSGi service, our service is represented as an interface:
package hello.service;
public interface HelloService {
public String sayHello();
This will be our first project or first bundle. The bundle will have just the interface. Please note that you will have to export hello.service package when building the bundle. To make this task easy, use the bnd tool to create the jar. I have used Ant script to compile and package the projects. Once bundle is ready, you will use it as a dependency library for compiling other projects.

Implementing our service

The next step is to implement our service. We will create a new project with previous projects jar file as a dependency. The service implementation is also POJO and there is no mention of OSGi service in the code. Let’s have a look at our implementation:
package hello.component;
import hello.service.HelloService;
public class HelloComponent implements HelloService {
String message = "Hello World";
public String sayHello() {
return message;
Now we define that we have a iPOJO component. This is done through a xml that is placed along with the project. The xml defines that, we have a component of the class hello.component.HelloComponent. The example below is a very simple one, you can have callbacks, properties set etc in this xml using different xml elements.
<component classname="hello.component.HelloComponent">
<instance component="hello.component.HelloComponent"/>
We will compile this project into another bundle that will be deployed in the runtime.

Using our Service

This is our final project. This project will be consuming the service we created above. The client can be a POJO or a Activator class. Like the service implementation code, we do not code for a service. Instead we go about and code as if the implementation is available to us. iPOJO framework would take care of the rest. Here is our "hello world" client:
package hello.client;
import hello.service.HelloService;
public class HelloClient {

private HelloService m_hello;

public HelloClient() {
System.out.println("Hello Client constructor...");

public void start() {
System.out.println("Starting client...");
System.out.println("Service: " + m_hello.sayHello());

public void stop() {
System.out.println("Stoping client...");
I have some sys outs to see how our client work. Just like the service project, we have a xml that will define what is the required service, callback functions etc. Have a look at the xml:
<component classname="hello.client.HelloClient">
<requires field="m_hello"/>
<callback transition="validate" method="start"/>
<callback transition="invalidate" method="stop"/>
<instance component="hello.client.HelloClient"/>
The xml specifies that HelloClient requires m_hello to execute. m_hello is a instance of our service. So as long as the service is not available, the HelloClient component do not get executed. The callback xml elements specify which methods to execute when the state of the component changes.

Once compiling and packaging of this project is done, we are ready to deploy our example into a runtime and see it working. If you have Felix and iPOJO framework downloaded. Let’s configure Felix to load our bundles when it’s started.

Felix configurations are placed in config.properties under conf folder.You will have to modify the entires for felix.auto.start.1 variable. Here is how it looked like after I modified:
felix.auto.start.1= \
file:bundle/org.apache.felix.shell-1.0.1.jar \
file:bundle/org.apache.felix.shell.tui-1.0.1.jar \
file:bundle/org.apache.felix.bundlerepository-1.0.3.jar \
file:bundle/org.apache.felix.ipojo-1.0.0.jar \
file:bundle/hello.service.jar \
file:bundle/hello.component.jar \
I have put all my jars in felix/bundle folder. You may place them in different location and specify the path.

We are ready now. Run your felix runtime to see the results! You may download the complete project and experiment with iPOJO. Good luck :)