Monthly Archives: March 2008

Introduction to OSGi

This is a quick and practical task-based introduction to OSGi. We avoid any in depth discussion about the purpose or benefits of OSGi or even the tools referenced in this article. Many high level introductions on the technology are available; for examples, please see the webcasts at Eclipse. There’s also a good webcast on the OSGi efforts at Weblogic.

With OSGi it’s possible to run multiple versions of the same classes in the same container. We’ll start from scratch and build services that demonstrate this ability.

I used Apache Felix as an OSGi container. The other two well known open source OSGi container implementations are Equinox and Knopflerfish. Apache Felix actually seems to be the least popular of the three – I wanted to get some experience using the underdog!

Our immediate focus is to create and deploy applications in an OSGi server. We’ll do the following:

  • First we’ll set up a simple OSGi deployment environment.
  • We’ll create a simple OSGi bundle that will export classes and a service, making it available to other bundles. We’ll call this Bundle A, version 1. We’ll install and start the bundle in an OSGi container.
  • To demonstrate the power of OSGi, we’ll create a second version of the same bundle and install it alongside the first version. We’ll call this Bundle A, version 2. This will demonstrate OSGi technology’s ability to seamlessly manage multiple versions of the same classes at the same time, even though the class and package names of both versions will be identical.
  • We’ll create another set of bundles which will import and use the classes and service exported by the first set of bundles. We’ll call them Bundle B, versions 1 and 2. Bundle A, versions 1 and 2 will export services which will be imported by Bundle B versions 1 and 2 respectively. This will demonstrate OSGi technology’s ability to dynamically manage modularized applications.

We will use Spring Dynamic Modules for OSGi(tm) 1.0 (with dependencies), Apache Felix 1.0.3, Apache Felix Maven Bundle Plugin 1.2.0, Apache Maven 2.0.8 and Java 1.5.14. Please refer to the individual project websites for more information and background on these projects. We are avoiding discussion of these tools as we are only focusing on accomplishing the tasks outlined above.

I used Windows XP to create this tutorial. When writing the development and deployment steps it seems much easier and less error prone to reference full path names, rather than relative names. For example, I prefer referencing c:\dev\tools\felix-1.0.3, rather than “your Felix home directory”. You will notice I use the following directory structure for my development environment.

                  lib\   (Libraries)
                  tools\   (Executable tools)

You can change the steps in the tutorial to match your environment, or copy the environment I lay out here. If you use a different layout, simply substitute path references to match your environment. For example, substitute “c:\dev\tools\felix-1.0.3” with whatever you chose for “your Felix home directory”.

To start out I’ll detail where to get the components to build the OSGi deployment environment. I will then use a command file, “setenv.cmd”, to configure my environment variables and system path when operating from a Windows command prompt. I’ll provide a sample “setenv.cmd” file.
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