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From "Vincent Massol" <>
Subject WebappClassLoader question
Date Wed, 25 Jul 2001 13:42:36 GMT

Here is the situation :

* I have a class that makes use of JUnit (by extending the JUnit TestCase class). Let's call
it ServletTestCase
* I have a second class that is used to call a method in ServletTestCase, let's call it MyProxyClass
* I have a third class (a servlet) that does _not_ make use of JUnit. Let's call it ServletTestRedirector.
This class actually instanciate MyProxyClass and calls one of its method.
* I package these classes in a war file and I _don't_ include junit.jar in this war file

When I access the servlet, I get a ClassNotFoundException on a JUnit class. So far it is normal
When I debugged it, I have actually found that the error was happening when ServletTestRedirector
was instancianting MyProxyClass (which does _not_ make use of JUnit) and before it was calling
its method.

Here is the stack trace I got :

java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: junit/framework/TestCase
 at java.lang.ClassLoader.defineClass0(Native Method)
 at java.lang.ClassLoader.defineClass(
 at org.apache.catalina.loader.WebappClassLoader.findClassInternal(
 at org.apache.catalina.loader.WebappClassLoader.findClass(
 at org.apache.catalina.loader.WebappClassLoader.loadClass(
 at org.apache.catalina.loader.WebappClassLoader.loadClass(
 at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClassInternal(
 at org.apache.commons.cactus.server.ServletTestRedirector.doPost(

Here is what I imagined is happening (tell me if this correct or wrong !) :

As MyProxyClass is within the war file, the WebappClassLoader gets called to load it. The
WebappClassLoader, in trying to find out the correct class, actually loads some other class
in memory, and thus the ServletTestCase, which fails to load because the junit jar is not
in the classpath.

Is that correct ?
Don't you find it strange that the error about the missing class is reported when calling
a class that has nothing to do with the problem ? It gets very hard to catch errors ...

For example, in MyProxyClass, the code that calls the ServletTestCase method is as follows

        ServletTestCase testInstance = null;
        try {
            testClass = Class.forName(theClassName);
            Constructor constructor = testClass.getConstructor(new Class[] { String.class
            testInstance = (ServletTestCase)constructor.newInstance(new Object[] { theMethod
        } catch (Exception e) {
            logger.debug("Error instanciating class [" + theClassName + "]", e);
            throw new ServletException("Error instanciating class [" + theClassName + "]",

And there is never any exception caught here .... because the error happens earlier in the
call stack, when the ServletTestRedirector instanciates MyProxyClass ...

... or am I missing something ? :)

-Vincent Massol

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