Me and OSGi

OSGi is much like a religion. I’ve even come up with the ten commandments of OSGi:
1. the OSGi way is the only way
2. all 3rd party code that you touch must be OSGi compliant
3. everything must be an OSGi bundle
4. every bundle must have a public part (api)
5. every bundle must keep its private parts covered
6. thou may not rely on the start order of your bundles
7. thou may not rely on a service being present
8. other bundles may be loaded and unloaded at any time
9. thou shall use OSGi in every project
10. thou shall bring the ways of OSGi upon the non-believers

Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch, I admit it. What I’m saying though about it being like a religion, is that it demands of you to follow certain rules. But if you look around you, very few people actually follow them. And if you try to follow them, you’ll find it very difficult.

Why is that? You can do your project the OSGi way, but you will use 3rd party code. Which may or may not be OSGi compliant. If it’s not, you’ll have to bundle it yourself. You can use bnd to do so automatically, but that doesn’t always work, especially for larger projects with lots of dependencies. So sooner or later you’ll find yourself spending 1-2 days trying to coerce some library into OSGi form. With maven it would be a 30 second job, but you’re doing OSGi so you’re stuck with that.

That begs the question: why do OSGi? It was initially conceived for embedded systems, which needed 100% uptime and the possibility of updating modules independently of one another, without stopping the system. Is your project about that? Then you have a valid case for OSGi. You aren’t likely to run into the problems I mentioned, since you’ll likely restrict your use of 3rd party code for reasons of size and performance.

However, most of us work on plain old Java applications. Is modularity good? Well yes! Do you need to update modules without restarting the application? No, you don’t. Do you replace service implementations at runtime? No, you don’t. Do you load and unload modules dynamically at runtime? No, you don’t.
That means for most projects the only gain is modularity, for which you pay a hefty price in the complexity of managing dependencies. There are simpler ways to ensure proper modularization.

Some web applications will need to update without downtime, but for those OSGi is not the answer either. If you need high availability, you’ll already have a cluster or a bunch of servers behind a load-balancer, which you can update without taking the application down.

Conclusion: OSGi is good for what it was originally intended for, but a real pain for most other projects.

Organising unit-test data

How do you organise the data for your unit tests? In most non-trivial applications you will have a fairly complex domain model. Again and again you will find yourself needing to create instances of such complex objects for your tests.
Over the time I’ve used 3 methods for this:

  1. Copy-Paste. It’s quick, and being unit-tests it’s not such a no-go. It also keeps tests independent of one another (as opposed to method 2). The downside is when you need to update the test data, for example if you add a new field – you’ll need to go over all the copies and update them.
  2. TestDataHelper. Have a class with static methods that create and pre-fill your objects with data. For any updates you only need to change one place. The downside is that it couples your tests between them. If you need different data for one test, and you change your Helper class, it may break other tests.
  3. TestBuilders. This is my favourite method right now. You create builder classes for your complex objects, with parametrised methods for child objects. This way you have one central place to make changes, but your tests are independent, as they don’t share data.
    Here’s an example:

    Catalog catalog = new CatalogBuilder()
    	.addProduct("Chair", "Wood")
    	.addProduct("Sofa", "Leather")
    	.withCategory("Living Room")

Which method do you use?

Windows RTF Editor with Swing

Ever tried using an RTF editor component for Java/Swing? I did, and I was never satisfied with the ones I found. Neither were the users. One of the reasons was that pretty much all of the users were working on Windows and had become accustomed to the native RTF Editor component from the application we were replacing.
So I thought, why not use the Windows component from the Swing application? How hard can it be?
As a note, I’ve only tried this in a private test project, what you’re about to see is no production code.

The Java side is quite succint:

public class RTFEditor {


  private static native String showRTFEditor();

There’s just the native method that will display a modal dialog with the RTF component and will return the text that the user entered.

Getting to the native stuff (I used VC++ 10 with Visual Studio)

The header file, rtf.h, generated with javah.exe

/* DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE - it is machine generated */
/* Header for class com_me_RTFEditor */

#ifndef _Included_com_me_RTFEditor
#define _Included_com_me_RTFEditor
#ifdef __cplusplus
extern "C" {

namespace rtf {

  JNIEXPORT jstring JNICALL Java_com_me_RTFEditor_showRTFEditor(JNIEnv *, jclass);

#ifdef __cplusplus

And the implementation, rtf.cpp. I got the string converstion code from Stackoverflow, unfortunately I don’t remember exactly from where.

#include "stdafx.h"
#include "rtf.h"
#include "rtfForm.h"

using namespace std;
using namespace System::Text;
using namespace System::Runtime::InteropServices;

namespace rtf {

  JNIEXPORT jstring JNICALL Java_com_me_RTFEditor_showRTFEditor(JNIEnv * env, jclass)
    rtfForm^ form = gcnew rtfForm();
    //show modal dialog
    // Encode the rtf text from the component as UTF8
    array^ encodedBytes = Encoding::UTF8->GetBytes(form->getRtf());

    // prevent GC moving the bytes around while this variable is on the stack
    pin_ptr pinnedBytes = &encodedBytes[0];

    // convert to jstring to return it to java
    jstring jstr2 = env->NewStringUTF(reinterpret_cast<char*>(pinnedBytes));
    return jstr2;

You surely noticed a “rtfForm” is referenced here. I used the UI Designer for it, it’s simply a form with a RTF Editor component inside. Here’s the code for it (rtfForm.h).
I won’t include the code for rtfForm.cpp, as it contains just the include for rtfForm.h

#pragma once

namespace rtf {

using namespace System;
using namespace System::ComponentModel;
using namespace System::Collections;
using namespace System::Windows::Forms;
using namespace System::Data;
using namespace System::Drawing;

/// Summary for rtfForm

public ref class rtfForm : public System::Windows::Forms::Form

  String^ getRtf()
    return this->richTextBox->Text;


    if (components)
      delete components;
  private: System::Windows::Forms::RichTextBox^ richTextBox;


  /// Required designer variable.

  System::ComponentModel::Container ^components;

  #pragma region Windows Form Designer generated code
  /// Required method for Designer support - do not modify
  /// the contents of this method with the code editor.

  void InitializeComponent(void)
    this->richTextBox = (gcnew System::Windows::Forms::RichTextBox());
    // richTextBox
    this->richTextBox->AcceptsTab = true;
    this->richTextBox->Anchor = static_cast((((System::Windows::Forms::AnchorStyles::Top | System::Windows::Forms::AnchorStyles::Bottom)
    | System::Windows::Forms::AnchorStyles::Left)
    | System::Windows::Forms::AnchorStyles::Right));
    this->richTextBox->Font = (gcnew System::Drawing::Font(L"Courier New", 8.25F, System::Drawing::FontStyle::Regular,     System::Drawing::GraphicsUnit::Point,
    this->richTextBox->Location = System::Drawing::Point(1, 3);
    this->richTextBox->Name = L"richTextBox";
    this->richTextBox->Size = System::Drawing::Size(477, 217);
    this->richTextBox->TabIndex = 0;
    this->richTextBox->Text = L"";
    // reForm
    this->AutoScaleDimensions = System::Drawing::SizeF(6, 13);
    this->AutoScaleMode = System::Windows::Forms::AutoScaleMode::Font;
    this->AutoScroll = true;
    this->ClientSize = System::Drawing::Size(479, 221);
    this->Name = L"reForm";
    this->Text = L"reForm";

  #pragma endregion

And here’s a screenshot of it working