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From Stephen Connolly <>
Subject "supplies" concept proposal (was "provides" could be "proffers")
Date Fri, 20 Jun 2014 12:51:14 GMT
"supplies" concept proposal


The following is a proposal for Maven in a post-modelVersion-4.0.0 era. The
aim of this proposal is to simplify the management of dependency trees in
the decentralised era of artifact production that we find ourselves in.

The core issue is that different organisations can produce artifacts that
may overlap. The easiest example is the servlet-api. If we restrict
ourselves to version 2.5 of the servlet specification there are quite a few
artifacts that all deliver the exact same content:

* `jetty:servlet-api:2.5-6.0.2`
* `org.daisy.libs:servlet-api:2.5.0`
* `org.mortbay.jetty:servlet-api-2.5:6.1.14`
* `org.jboss.spec.javax.servlet:jboss-servlet-api_2.5_spec:1.0.1.Final`
* etc

**Note:** this is a generic problem that is not restricted to the
servlet-api, the servlet-api just provides the example that will be most
familiar to everyone.

So where these multiple artifacts supplying the equivalent content becomes
a problem is when the dependency tree is being calculated. If you have two
dependencies each declaring transitive dependencies on different artifacts
that supply equivalent content, then you end up with two copies of the same
JAR file in your classpath.

In the case of the servlet-api, the hack most people use is to declare the
servlet-api with scope `provided` thus preventing it from being transitive.
This is, however, a hack. In a more ideal world it would be better to let
the servlet-api be transitive and only when we get to the WAR module would
we declare that a specific servlet-api is to be provided in the containers
that the WAR is targets for deployment into.

We can take a second example that does not have the luxury of a *de facto*

* `javax.faces:jsf-api:2.1`
* `org.jboss.spec.javax.faces:jboss-jsf-api_2.1_spec:2.1.28.Final`
* `org.apache.myfaces.core:myfaces-api:2.1.13`

Now in the case of the JSF API, you are supposed to bundle the JSF API in
your WAR file. So if I use three JSF component libraries, I could very well
end up with three different but equivalent JSF API jars in my WAR file.

Ideally what we want is some way of telling Maven that these artifacts are


Introduce the concept of "supplies" to the project model. The concept needs
three changes to the project model:

1. An explicit top level construct for a project to explicitly declare
up-front artifacts that it knows - at the time the project is being
authored - to contain equivalent content to at least a subset of the
project's content. Declarations could include a claim from: `subset`,
`superset`, `disjoint` and `equivalent` with the default being `disjoint`.
2. An explicit sub-element of the `dependency` construct to allow consumers
to *post-facto* declare a specific dependency as supplying equivalent
content for other dependencies
3. An extension to the `dependency/excludes/exclude` construct to allow
consumers to remove claims a dependency makes with respect to supplying
equivalent content

By way of illustration, here are some examples of these constructs mapped
to a Model Version 4.0.0 like XML schema. As the post-modelVersion-4.0.0
schema is not yet known, this represents the best way to illustrate how the
concept will work, but note that this proposal does not suggest a schema
for this concept.

### Example 1

This illustrates how we would want, say, the `myfaces-api` project model to


This indicates that the `myfaces-api` artifact is intended to be useable as
a drop-in replacement for either the `javax.faces:jsf-api` artifact within
a bounded range or for any version of the
`org.jboss.spec.javax.faces:jboss-jsf-api_2.1_spec` artifact. If you get a
supplier conflict in your classpath, then Maven should fail the build.

For example if somebody forked `myfaces-api` but did not list `myfaces-api`
in the fork's supplyManagement and you end up with both `myfaces-api` and
`myfaces-fork-api` in your classpath. Maven can detect that there are two
dependencies that both claim to supply `javax.faces:jsf-api` and fail the
build, thereby letting the user add either exclusions or additional
supplies information to one of the artifacts and preventing duplicate
artifacts on the classpath. The build need not be failed if the supplies
claims provide a resolution. e.g. if the claim is `equivalent` then that
implies that there is a 1:1 mapping and hence the artifacts are drop-in
replacements. However where the claim is `superset` we cannot know that the
extra content in our artifact is the same as the extra content in another
artifact which has a superset of `javax.faces:jsf-api`.

### Example 2

This illustrates a JSF component library that is working with the existing


In this case we are publishing a transitive dependency with additional
supplyManagement injected. Consumers of this project would thus gain the
benefit of collapsing their transitive dependencies for any of these three
artifacts. As all artifacts are declared with `equivalent` claim, thus the
nearest of those three artifacts to the project will win as per the
standard dependency resolution rules when dealing with conflicting version
requirements in the transitive dependency tree.

### Example 3

Finally, there is the case where you need to correct an incorrect claim of


This would typically be coupled with adding back in a correct supplies
definition, but we need to allow for people to correct the graph after the
fact of their dependencies being deployed to the remote repository.

### Claim conflict resolution

The four classes of claim can be resolved using the following matrix

                 |                         A                         |
                 | subset     | equivalent | superset   | disjoint   |
|   | subset     | conflict   | A wins     | A wins     | conflict   |
|   +------------+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|   | equivalent | B wins     | A or B     | A wins     | conflict   |
| B +------------+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|   | superset   | B wins     | B wins     | conflict   | conflict   |
|   +------------+------------+------------+------------+------------+
|   | disjoint   | conflict   | conflict   | conflict   | conflict   |

The default unspecified claim is `disjoint` which indicates that some of
the content is reproduced, but not all and there is additional content
added. With such a claim there will always be conflict and the build should
fail until the Project Model is updated to either remove some of the claims
or resolve the dependency clash.

The ideal claim is `equivalent` which indicates that the two artifacts are
bi-directionally substitutable. This does not mean that the contents are
identical. It does mean that they both deliver on the same contract in an
equivalent fashion.

The `subset` and `superset` claims are for aggregation APIs. So for example
the Java EE Web Profile API is a superset of the various spec APIs that
make up the Java EE Web Profile and a subset of the full Java EE
specification. The use of the `subset` claim should be reserved to those
cases that are strict subsets. If anything is added that is not in the
supplied artifact then the correct claim is `disjoint`.

### Validation of supplies claims

We do not want to introduce Java bias with this feature. As a result the
validation of claims and supplies directives will be left to plugins. For
the Java case we should probably provide either/both an enforcer rule or a
maven hosted plugin to assist in checking JAR projects against the declared
supplies declarations, but Maven core should not be concerned with solving
the validation problem.

Similarly, while there may be advantages in a more fine grained API
contract negotiation between dependencies, to bind such a concept into the
project model would significantly taint the Maven project model with more
Java-centric concepts. Given that current software development typically
uses at least two core languages: Java and JavaScript, we should be aiming
to reduce Java-centric constructs from Maven rather than increase them.

### Backporting

It will not be possible to fully express this concept in a modelVersion
4.0.0 project model. Thus if generating 4.0.0 compatible project models,
the aim should be to fully resolve the dependencies of the project using
all available information and express that as the transitive dependencies.

Thus we will not expose the "supplies" information to modelVersion 4.0.0
parsers but we will expose the end results of that and present the final
effective flattened dependency tree.

modelVersion 4.0.0 consumers will thus be no worse off than they already
are and those consumers understanding newer modelVersions can get the
enhanced tree resolution that they would not get otherwise.

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