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From "Jeremy Wales" <jeremywa...@gmail.com>
Subject Trying to export packages from the Class Path
Date Fri, 17 Aug 2007 14:01:22 GMT

I'm trying to come up with a way to expose all the packages which happen to
be available on the Class Path as proper OSGi package exports. Inspired by
Chapter 9 Migration in the JSR 277 Early Draft, which defines a
java.classpath module so modules can import from legacy JARs, I thought
something similar should be available in OSGi, but that in OSGi it could
actually be much better.

The beauty of exporting packages from the Class Path would be that client
bundles of legacy JARs could use them the proper way, via package imports,
and then when the legacy JARs finally get a proper OSGi manifest they can be
used in exactly the same way, with no refactoring of the client bundles.
This contrasts to the JSR 277 proposal which would let you use legacy JARs
via a java.classpath module but then you have to refactor all the client
modules when a legacy JAR becomes a proper module. Felix Commons seems to
plug a similar gap (for OSGi) but requires explicitly wrapping each legacy
JAR via Maven at build time whereas I (and I'd imagine many others) would
love the option to have similar functionality provided transparently at

So, working out what packages are available on the Class Path, and the other
packages each uses, isn't hard (I've got something working and it seems to
be fast enough) but then they need to be exported somehow. Reading the OSGi
spec, it seems there should be several possible approaches:

1)      Add these packages to the
org.osgi.framework.system.packagesframework property.

This has the draw back that it relies on the property being set as part of
the framework bootstrapping process which is always proprietary because it's
not covered by the spec. I would like a solution to be implementation

Another disadvantage is that the packages are not substitutable via an
equivalent import definition (as per 3.5.6 Exporting and Importing a Package
of the OSGi spec).

2)      Install and start a bundle which then installs a framework extension
bundle which just has a manifest with the Class Path export package
definition included.

This has the same draw back that an extension bundle cannot have imports,
which I would want for substitutability.

It also has the disadvantage that it doesn't work in version 1.0.0 of Felix!
When debugging in Felix I found that, although an extension bundle is
identified as such so that its exports are added to the ExtensionManager,
when the R4SearchPolicyCore is invoked during the resolution of other
bundles it doesn't consult the ExtensionManager and the exports added to the
ExtensionManager are not added to the ones searched by R4SearchPolicyCore.
So bundles that require packages exported only by an extension bundle fail
to be resolved. This looks to me like a bug in Felix but I don't know Felix
well enough to be sure (but exactly the same thing happens to work in

3)      Install and start a bundle which installs a fragment bundle, with
the Class Path exports in its manifest, which has system.bundle as its
fragment host but don't make it an extension bundle, just a normal fragment

This would have the advantage that it should allow imports as well as
exports. I can make the import list mirror the export list and then remove
any imports that conflict with those of system.bundle (including its
currently attached fragments) and then as the framework resolves the new
fragment it can decide if it should wire in any existing exports from other
bundles as substitutes for those from the Class Path.

This works brilliantly throughout the resolution process in Felix! I
actually wasn't expecting resolution to work at all because the outstanding
http://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/FELIX-29 seems to indicate that
fragments aren't supported at all? However, even though it appears to work,
it does fall over when a client bundle of one of the Class Path exports
actually tries to load a Class from a wire to system.bundle. It seems that
in Felix the special ability of the system bundle to export packages from
its parent ClassLoader is actually restricted to those exports specified by
the system bundle JAR itself, the
org.osgi.framework.system.packagesproperty and any framework extension
bundles. For a non-extension fragment
bundle attached to system.bundle Felix doesn't delegate the wire to the
parent ClassLoader but instead only searches in the system.bundle JAR itself
and therefore doesn't find the Class. This isn't the behaviour I would
expect from reading the OSGi spec (and it's not the behaviour of Equinox
either, as it can delegate any system.bundle exports to the parent
ClassLoader no matter where they come from… it can't however handle
additional imports (even optionals) to an already resolved bundle like Felix
seems to… which I'll have to post to their dev list).

So, I'm wondering, would it be possible for Felix to change this behaviour
so that this use case works?

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