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From Rickard Öberg <>
Subject Re: [picocontainer-dev] Re: ClassLoader Architecture
Date Mon, 27 Jun 2005 06:04:01 GMT
Jeremy Boynes wrote:
> I would be very interested if you have the time.

Since you asked :-)

There are a couple of issues I wanted to fix with such a scheme.

First of all, a component should be able to expose an API, and only that 
API should be exposed by the component. Other components should not be 
able to access helper objects or components, and they should not be able 
to cast the component to other interfaces than what is explicitly exposed.

Second, a component must be able to either use other API's exposed by 
other components (trivial) *or* have an internal structure where it 
hosts components as helpers, and which are not exposed to other 
components. An example of the latter might be a DataSource that is 
specific for a component and which should not be autowired into any 
other component. A component should not "leak" by accident.

Third, components must be lazy-loadable, yet eager-resolvable. Our 
system is so large that starting up all components at startup-time takes 
way too long. Components (or at least some) should be 
lazy-loadable(/lazy-startable) upon the first call to any of the methods 
in the exposed API.

The basic approach is to use ContainerComposers (CC), which (IIRC) is 
how MCA works as well. One component, one CC. I then have a base class 
that allows me to do things like this:
public class PortletContainerComponent
    extends ComponentContainerComposer
    public void composeContainer(MutablePicoContainer parent, Object o)
       MutablePicoContainer container = makeChildContainer(parent);


A component using this approach always does three things:
1) set up a child container for the internal structure. Using 
makeChildContainer() on the provided parent is the most common, but it 
can be more complex if you want to.
2) configure the internal structure
3) expose the API, which will register the API in "parent"

Requirement 1 and 3 above makes it necessary to introduce proxies which 
can be eagerly resolved by other components without having to have an 
actual backend component at the resolution time. This, of course, also 
allows components to be passivated at any time if necessary, but so far 
the lazy-start is the most important to me. By using the implementation 
hiding component adapter it is also ensured that only the API is 
exposed. For example, if the exposed class PortletRegistryImpl 
implements Startable this is not visible to "parent" above. Hence 
lifecycle events will only be executed in the internal container. 
Creating and registering the proxy is done in step 3) above.

To allow for explicit lazy-loading of components I can do things like this:
public class SearchEngineComponent
    extends ComponentContainerComposer
    public void composeContainer(MutablePicoContainer con, Object o)
       MutablePicoContainer container = makeChildContainer(con, LAZY_LOAD);

This will ensure that the objects in this component will only be 
instantiated and started iff a method of the exposed API is called. 
Lazy-loading can only be done if none of the objects start threads or 
exposes some static methods that are not exposed through a Pico API 
interface. For example, the above would be only half of the search 
component in our system, with the indexing (having threads) added like so:
public class IndexingComponent
    extends ComponentContainerComposer
    public void composeContainer(MutablePicoContainer con, Object o)
       MutablePicoContainer container = makeChildContainer(con);

... since IndexMaintainer uses threads and hence needs to be started 
before anyone calls its API. These two together implement the "search 
component" in our system:
public class SearchComponent
    extends ComponentContainerComposer
    public void composeContainer(MutablePicoContainer con, Object o)
       new IndexingComponent().composeContainer(con, o);
       new SearchEngineComponent().composeContainer(con, o);
Note that in this case the composer does not create a sub-container, but 
instead composes itself directly using the other composers. If it had 
created a new child container it would have to explicitly register() the 
API of the child components in order to "push" them upwards. This 
explicitness ensures that it is impossible to accidentally access the 
internal structure of a component.

That's about it I think. Some implementation details in 
ComponentContainerComposer, and there's no class loading going on above 
(would be easy to add it though).

Overall, this scheme should make it possible to have lots of components, 
large components, composed components, expose what you want, hide what 
you want, and yet be reasonably easy to understand and use.

Comments, thoughts, suggestions?


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