Montag, 17. Oktober 2011

OSGi RFC-0172 Declarative Services Annotations Runtime?

I had with Peter Kriens and Neil Bartlett on Twitter an interesting discussion about "Why the DS annotations in the DRAFT RFC-0172 Declarative Services Annotations should be process at runtime or compile time".

Here in this post I like to show my opinion why to process annotations at runtime.

Runtime Annotations kills DS lazyness?
Peter says at twitter "One of the best things about DS is its lazyness, we do not want to kill this".

My option is that with runtime annotations we do not kill the DS lazyness.
I think we do not need to scan the bundles classes and load them all, to find the DS components in the system. The simplest solution is to have the components with the full qualified class name in the bundle MANIFEST.MF here a sample code snippet:

The next thing is we need a way to read the annotations without loading the class into the class loader to support bundles e.g. with "Bundle-ActivationPolicy: lazy". All information for the DS model is in the system in the byte code (when we use runtime annotations). Because of that, we can read the information for the DS components from the bytecode. Reading annotations from the bytecode is a simple way to provide all the lazyness we have with the XML model. To show this I create a very simple prototype which use the javassist library to process the annotation at runtime in a OSGi framework see

Reading Annotations at Runtime is a Performance Issue?
Peter says: "So byte code scanning does not take any time?"

XML reading at runtime does also take time; do you think reading XML can be done faster than reading byte code? All information are in the byte code is reading the byte code really a performance issue? I believe we could make reading the information for the DS components from the byte code almost as fast as reading it from the XML files.

Detect errors early?
Another statement from Peter pro XML model for DS is "Detect errors early".

Yes when the annotation is process at runtime, we won’t also have a static testing tool like bnd which checks at compile time, if everything is okay with the model and shows the problems in the IDE. Why do we need the XML model for doing this?

Why runtime Annotation?
Neil asked me on Twitter "Why would you do at runtime what you can do better at build time?".

My statement is: I would like to process the annotations at runtime, because I don't like to have information in two places in my system, only when there are technical reasons, for doing this. Because of that I think it would be nice to have runtime annotations.

When we have runtime annotations then the SCR Implementation can also decide to support them at runtime or generate at build time the XML Model e.g. via bnd. The most Java frameworks (EJB3, JAXB, JAX-RS...) use runtime annotations for their components, why do OSGi like to go a different way?"

XML and Annotations
Neil asks me on twitter "Sorry I don't understand. You want the runtime to look at both the annotations *and* the XML?"

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: When we support runtime annotations to describe DS components, which should be process at runtime, we must also support the old XML way to be backward compatible. So I like to have both XML and annotations like in the Spring framework. In Spring you could describe a bean via XML and if you like you can describe the spring bean by annotations.

Thanks at Neil and Peter for the great discussion. At this point again I would like to say when you use at the moment DS you should use the cool annotations from BND. This is at the moment the best way to develop DS components, I think.


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