Proposal: #ResourceEncapsulation and #ClassFilesAsResources

David M. Lloyd david.lloyd at
Wed Jun 29 13:21:39 UTC 2016

Responses inline & at bottom.

On 06/28/2016 04:20 PM, Mark Reinhold wrote:
> Issue summaries
> ---------------
>    #ClassFilesAsResources --- If a type is visible and was loaded from a
>    class file then it should be possible to read that file by invoking the
>    `getResourceAsStream` method of the type's class loader, as it is in
>    earlier releases. [1]
>    #ResourceEncapsulation --- The `Module::getResourceAsStream` method can
>    be used to read the resources of any named module, without restriction,
>    which violates the resource-encapsulation requirement [2].  This method
>    should be restricted somehow so that only "suitably-privileged" code
>    (for some definition of that term) can access resources in a named
>    module other than its own.  An alternative is to drop this
>    requirement. [3]
> Proposal
> --------
> Drop the agreed resource-encapsulation requirement, which reads:
>    Resource encapsulation --- The run-time system must ensure that the
>    static resource files within a module are directly accessible only by
>    code within that module.  The existing resource-access APIs should
>    continue to work as they do today when used to access a module's own
>    resource files. [2]

OK so far.

> Make the following changes to the various `getResource*` methods:
>    - The `ClassLoader::getResource*` methods will first delegate to the
>      loader's parent, if any, and will then search for resources in the
>      named modules defined to the loader, and will then search in the
>      loader's unnamed module, typically defined by a class path.  In the
>      case of the `getResources` method the order of the resources in the
>      returned enumeration will be unspecified, except that the values of
>      `cl.getResources(name).nextElement()` and `cl.getResource(name)`
>      will be equal.

I am really not a fan of unspecified resource order, especially when you 
can easily derive a stable order from the graph topology.

Resources however should always load from the child-most loader first. 
This isn't a problem in Jigsaw for classes because packages cannot be 
duplicated between modules (in a visible manner), but it becomes a 
problem with resources, especially if/when run-time cycles are 
permitted: you can run into an awkward situation where two mutually 
dependent modules each may see the other's resource "first" before their 
own, which is almost always undesirable.

>    - The `Class::getResource*` methods will only search for resources in
>      the module that defines the class.  In the case of a class in an
>      unnamed module this will typically result in searching the class
>      path of the corresponding class loader.

Does this also apply to automatic modules?

> The `java.lang.reflect.Module::getResourceAsStream` method will remain,
> so that it's possible to look up a resource in a module without having a
> reference to a class defined in that module.  It will always be the case
> that, for a given a class `c`, `c.getResourceAsStream(name)` will be
> equivalent to `c.getModule().getResourceAsStream(name)`.

I believe that in the former case, the "name" was historically relative 
to the location of the class.  Is that behavior changing?

> Rationale
> ---------
> The encapsulation of resources was intended to be part of the overall
> encapsulation story, on the view that a module's resources are just
> internal implementation details that need not, and should not, be
> available to code in other modules.  Allowing external code to depend
> upon a module's internal resources is just as problematic as allowing
> such code to depend upon internal APIs.
> The reality of existing code today, however, is rather different, with
> two common use cases:
>    - Resources are often used intentionally to convey information to
>      external code, e.g., as a way to publish configuration files such as
>      `persistence.xml`.  This sort of thing should, ideally, be done via
>      services [4][5], but that is not the current practice and it will
>      take years to migrate to it.

In many cases services are too limiting.  It is useful for users to have 
a more powerful, general facility available that can use the same basic 
mechanism as services, but for arbitrary resources.  For example, one 
case that came up quite recently (on Jigsaw-dev I think) was that it is 
useful to acquire not the service instance, but the class name, so that 
it could be constructed in various ways.  Services as they are now 
require another front-end class to encapsulate this kind of variation. 
Also it is not uncommon for a situation to arise where many classes must 
be produced for variant services which all have the same basic behavior 
but differ only in details, which is awkward as well as it can result in 
large quantities of similar classes.

It would be nice if service loading and resource loading continued to 
follow a similar set of rules.  When Jigsaw switched ServiceLoader from 
a convenience API over resources to a separate concept, it lost the 
concept of using resources *as* an API component or participant, which 
is a powerful feature.  This change will restore that to some degree, 
but it is still strange that loading a META-INF/services/ 
file will have different search semantics than using ServiceLoader. 
Basically we are taking this capability from users unless they do it the 
way that Jigsaw wants you to: via ServiceLoader, and no other way; it 
almost seems like Jigsaw is attempting to take on the characteristics of 
a container (not a very powerful one though because it only supports 
linking via services (a pretty thin concept when you think about it), 
not by (for example) annotations or anything else).

Anyway I hope you can extract some kind of cogency from all that.

>    - Various popular tools and byte-code manipulation frameworks expect to
>      be able to load class files as resources, i.e., to access the class
>      file that defines a class `p.q.C` by invoking `getResource("p.q.C")`
>      on that class's loader.
> With the API as it stands today these use cases can still be supported,
> but the code that looks up the resource must be converted to use the
> `Module::getResourceAsStream` method.  This is a barrier to migration,
> since it means that fewer existing frameworks will work out-of-the-box
> as automatic modules.
> We should not drop agreed requirements lightly, but now that we have
> some practical experience with an implementation of this one I think
> it's clear that the pain outweighs the gain.

Overall I think this is a step in the right direction, but I think the 
discussion needs to carry on a bit longer.


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