Thursday, June 14, 2012

OSGi Enterprise R5 specifications released

While the Early Access draft was already available for a couple of months, the OSGi R5 Core and Enterprise specifications are now officially released. The Enterprise release contains a couple of significant new specifications. While the blog post on the OSGi website gives general information about this release, I'm spending a few more words on the new specs that are part of the Enterprise release here.

The Repository specification

Repository is a very interesting new spec that provides an API based on generic capabilities and requirements to access (possible remote) repositories. With this API you can do things like: 'I need a bundle that exports package javax.servlet version 2.5' or you can say 'I need a bundle that provides a Declarative Services implementation version 1.2' without having to know what the name of the bundle is. The Repository can be used with any kind of resource (it doesn't have to be an OSGi bundle) and it works with any type of capability. So you can also make your own capabilities and express requirements in terms of those to find your resources.
Besides the API it also defines an XML interchange format that can be used to export and import repository information across repositories. Note that the resources known to the repository don't actually need to reside inside it, they can live anywhere as long as its accessible via a URL.
The Reference Implementation of the Repository is currently being worked on in the JBoss OSGi project.

The Resolver Specification

OSGi Frameworks have contained resolvers for a long time. This specification allows other entities to use this resolver as a standalone entity as well. The Resolver can obviously be used to resolve OSGi type of requirements, which can be used to evaluate what-if scenarios. The Resolver is stateless, and doesn't need to perform its operations in relation to the local framework, so it can be used to see whether a bundle or set of bundles would resolve in another framework. Additionally, the Resolver can be used on any type of constraint that can be expressed as generic capabilities and requirements, and, as with the Repository, it doesn't need to operate on bundles per se. It can resolve requirements over a set of capabilities provided by any type of resource. While I haven't tried it (yet) you should be able to use it in completely different domains. The RI of the Resolver is in a well-advanced stage at the Apache Felix project.


The Subsystems specification can be described in many different ways. One of the things it allows you to do is to create an archive (an .esa file) which contains a number of bundles which together provide a piece of functionality. For example, take the CXF-DOSGi project which implements the Remote Services specification. To deploy CXF-DOSGi you previously had to deploy a large number of bundles. Composite systems like this can now be bundled in a subsystem, where you only need to deploy a single subsystem to get all these bundles in your framework. There are many other aspects to subsystems too. Instead of bundeling up all the bundles in the .esa file you can also describe the subsystem purely in a declarative sense, by only having a descriptor that says 'my subsystem is defined by bundle1, bundle2 and bundle3'. The subsystem implementation can then use the Repository and Resolver to locate these bundles, pull in their transitive dependencies and deploy the whole lot in your OSGi framework.
Additionally, Subsystems provides a feature for QA teams. It allows you to add an additional Deployment manifest which can lock down the actual versions of the bundles that the subsystem is to be used with. QA teams can use this to lock down the versions to the ones they tested.
Besides all this, Subsystems provides isolation features which are aimed at allowing multiple subsystems to run within the same framework without interference. The Subsystems RI is being implemented in Apache Aries.

ServiceLoader Mediator Specification

This specification deals with getting java.lang.ServiceLoader to work in an OSGi framework. ServiceLoader has been in JavaSE since version 6 and there are lots of problems with it, the main ones being that its non-modular and non-dynamic by design. However there is code out there that uses ServiceLoader and this code needs to work in an OSGi framework as well. That's what this specification enables. The reference implementation is being done in the Apache Aries SPI-Fly component.

Common Namespaces Specification

Namespaces in this context describe various types of information that can be expressed as generic capabilities and requirements. This specification describes a number of these namespaces. They can be used during the resolution process but also as part of the metadata in a Repository so that they can be found using Repository queries. The following namespaces are defined in this spec (note that the Core spec also defines a number of different namespaces):
  • osgi.extender: this allows a bundle to express that it needs an particular extender (e.g. I need Blueprint in order to function). The extenders themselves provide this capability.
  • osgi.contract: can be used as a convenient way to import a number of packages that together provide a certain contract. For example you could say: give me all the packages that are part of the Servlet 3.0 spec. This namespace is intended for tools to allow developers to specify a contract rather than the individual imports. Under the covers this contract can automatically be expanded into the appropriate import-package statements.
  • osgi.service: allows a bundle to express that it needs a given service and similarly allows a bundle to express that it can provide a certain service.
Also included is a new Coordinator specification (which was first released in the Compendium 4.3 release) and significant updates to the JMX specification. The Configuration Admin specification got some new features (among which are 'targeted pids') and some minor changes were made to a number of other specs.

You can download the OSGi Enterprise R5 specification from here: