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From Niklas Gustavsson <>
Subject [proposal] Commons Exec
Date Fri, 29 Jul 2005 01:32:38 GMT
Proposal for Exec Package

Executing external processes from Java is a well-known problem area. It 
is inheriently platform dependent and requires the developer to know and 
test for platform specific behaviors, for example using cmd.exe on 
Windows or limited buffer sizes causing deadlocks. The JRE support for 
this is very limited, albeit better with the new Java SE 1.5 
ProcessBuilder class.

Reliably executing external processes can also require knowledge of the 
environment variables before or after the command is executed. In J2SE 
1.1-1.4 there is not support for this, since the method, 
System.getenv(), for retriving environment variables is deprecated.

The are currently several different libraries that for their own 
purposes has implemented frameworks around Runtime.exec() to handle the 
various issue outlined above. The proposed project should aim at 
coordinating and learning from these initatives to create and maintain a 
simple, reusable and well-tested package. Since some of the more 
problematic platforms are not readily available, it is my hope that the 
broad Apache community can be a great help.

Scope of the package
The package shall create and maintain a process execution package 
written in the Java language to be distributed under the ASF license. 
The Java code might also be complemented with scripts (e.g. Perl 
scripts) to fully enable execution on some operating systems. The 
package should aim for supporting a wide range of operating systems 
while still having a consistent API for all platforms.

Interaction with other packages
This package will using Commons Logging for logging debug and error 

Identify the initial source for the package
Several implementations exists and should be researched before 
finalizing the design:
  * Ant 1.X contains probably the most mature code within the exec task. 
This code has been stripped of the Ant specifics and cleaned up by 
Niklas Gustavsson and can be donated under the ASF license.
  * Ant 2.X contains a new exec implementation, especially targeted for 
reusability (see
  * plexus-utils has a similar but slimmer implementation than Ant and 
has also indicated interest through Trygve Laugstøl the particate in the 

Identify the base name for the package

Identify the coding conventions for this package
Sun conventions.

Identify any Jakarta-Commons resources to be created
  * Mailing list
Until traffic justifies, the package will use the Jakarta-Commons lists 
for communications.

  * SVN repositories
A new SVN directory under Commons Sandbox

  * Bugzilla
The package should be listed as a component of under the Jakarta-Commons 
Bugzilla entry.

  * Integration test builds
If possible, some form of integration test builds on various platforms 
(like the SourceForge compile farm) would be invaluable. I'm unsure of 
what for example Gump and the current Apache infrastructure has to offer 
in this area.

Identify the initial set of committers to be listed in the Status File
Brett Porter
Stefan Bodewig
Niklas Gustavsson (I'm not currently an Apache commiter so I don't know 
if this is possible)


Niklas Gustavsson

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