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From robert burrell donkin <>
Subject Re: [PATCH][collections] purging reference map entries when key is garbage collected
Date Thu, 01 May 2003 18:20:00 GMT

On Wednesday, April 30, 2003, at 05:04 PM, Craig R. McClanahan wrote:

> On Wed, 30 Apr 2003, robert burrell donkin wrote:
>> Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 13:54:01 +0100
>> From: robert burrell donkin <>
>> Reply-To: Jakarta Commons Developers List <commons-
>> To: Jakarta Commons Developers List <>
>> Subject: Re: [PATCH][collections] purging reference map entries when key
>>     is garbage collected
>> On Wednesday, April 30, 2003, at 02:20 PM, Juozas Baliuka wrote:
>>>> <background>
>>>> i'm looking into per context classloader BeanUtilsBean instances. the
>>>> idea
>>>> is that each web app can have it's own isolated instances (rather 
>>>> than a
>>>> singleton) return on the basis on the thread's contest classloader.
>>>> </background>
>>> Possible I do not understan a use case, but
>>> each web will  have it's own isolated instances, if  beanutils.jar is
>>> cloned
>>> per each WEB-INF/lib .
>>> Do you want to have "global" jar loaded by single class loader, but
>>> singletons per classLoader ?
>> (i'll explain as well as i can: craig's the expert)
>> beanutils used to use static utility classes. we've been moving the
>> functionality into beans (this gives greater flexibility for users). as 
>> a
>> preliminary step, the static utility classes used a proper singleton. 
>> this
>> means that if beanutils are loaded by the same classloader in different
>> web apps, it is possible that changes made to the beanutils settings in
>> one web app may effect another.
>> threads servicing different web applications should have different
>> ContextClassLoaders so (as i understand it) by returning an instance 
>> based
>> on the ContextClassLoaders of the thread making the call we should make
>> sure that different web apps get different instances. (of course, some
>> badly behaved servlet containers might confound this scheme by using
>> different classloader instances without providing a good equals method.)
>>> You can use ThreadLocal, it is internaly implemented as weak map without
>>> dependancy on collections.
>> AFAIK ThreadLocal can only be used to store variables associated with a
>> particular thread. if so, then this isn't really what we're looking for.
>> (i'd be glad to be corrected if i've missed something.)
> Robert has the basics exactly right.
> The use case we've got is a servlet container (like Tomcat) that provides
> a class loader for each web application, plus a shared class loader that
> is the parent of all the webapp class loaders.  For details on the
> architecture, see:
> With previous beanutils code (using only the static singleton), things
> worked fine if you put commons-beanutils.jar in each webapp's /WEB-INF/lib
> directory -- each webapp got their own copy of the singleton, with no
> conflicts.  However, if commons-beanutils.jar was put in a parent class
> loader (in Tomcat, by putting commons-beanutils.jar into shared/lib or
> common/lib), we ran into conflicts.
> The first step, as Robert points out, was to isolate the actual processing
> logic of each class into a separate class that used instance methods
> instead of the static ones (BeanUtils --> BeanUtilsBean and so on).  Next,
> we need to work out the strategy of ensuring that each caller receives the
> BeanUtilsBean instance that is appropriate for their environment.  Here is
> where we need to do some interesting planning.
> For a servlet container, using ThreadLocal is not the right answer,
> because the container will recycle each request processing thread across
> multiple webapps -- what we really want to do is allocate a BeanUtilsBean
> instance per web application.  The easiest way to do that is to use the
> Thread's context class loader -- this works because the container is
> required to set the thread context class loader to point at the webapp
> class loader before invoking the servlet to process a request.  Therefore,
> we should be able to use the class loader as the key to a map to keep the
> right instances.
> However, we probably want to provide a strategy plugin for creating
> instances -- I would advocate for the behavior described in the previous
> paragraph as the default, but other strategies certainly seem feasible as
> well for non-servlet-container environments.

i've now completed a basic prototype of a suitable system that returns an 
instance on the basis of the Thread's context class loader. in order to 
prevent problems with memory leaks, i need a map which holds keys with 
weak references and purges entries when then key is garbage collected. the 
patch i submitted adds this functionality to ReferenceMap in collections. 
i'd prefer to see some more feedback from the collections team rather than 
just adding my name and committing this change.

i support the idea of a strategy plugin but i think that we need to think 
clearly about the design. it's going to have to act at the class level and 
so is going to have to be discovery-esque (but i'd prefer not to depend on 
discovery - at least until there's a stable release).

- robert

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