Saturday, November 03, 2007

Actual plugin development for Maven 2

Ok, so after Googling around and hours of patient command line testing (yeah, I know, it's horrible, you don't have to tell me) I managed to complete my ToLDya plugin for generating TLD files. Hopefully this plugin will be a great aid to people developing JSP tag libraries other than myself. But along the way, I learned a lot about plugin development in Maven, and I'm quite certain that I've got a shitload more to learn.

  1. Starting out with a barebones Mojo from the Maven provided archetype literally doesn't get you much. It gets you just enough to plug into the Maven framework so that maven can actually run your Mojo, but that's about it.

  2. The AbstractMojo provided by Maven is pathetic. It gives you a logger, and that's about it. By default, it does not give you many of the things a plugin is quite likely to want (more about that later)

  3. Despite the fact that Maven 2 was supposed to be the "lessons learned" version of Maven, I don't think that the Maven developers learned much at all. Maven is grossly behind the times, still relying on XDoclet annotations and pre-JDK 5.0 compatibility. Yes, there is something to be said for keeping things backward compatible (especially in a corporate environment, I know), but at some point you have to move on and do better, in this case : getting up to date with the latest JDK (1.6.03 at the time of this writing).

  4. If you need anything (ie from Maven) while writing a Maven plugin, you have to specifically request that it be injected for you. (See the Maven documentation, this is the one area where they're actually good about documenting things and helping out developers)

  5. If your plugin needs to access any of the classes in the project on which it's run, you need to load them yourself with your own classloader. Maven will not give you one (which is pretty ridiculous to my mind).

Here are some important bits of knowledge for doing anything with a Maven plugin:

  • If you need access to anything from the project (ie any information stored in the POM), you'll need to include the following dependency :


    In my current POM, the property 'maven.version' is set to 2.0.7. You'll then need to have a property in your plugin Mojo called 'property' (or whatever else you find suitable) and annotate it like so (from within a Javadoc comment of course):

    * @parameter expression="${project}"
    * @required

  • As mentioned previously, if you want to load any of the classes that are in the project on which your plugin is to execute, you have to load them yourself. The same goes for any of the project's dependencies. In order to do this, you'll have to get the list of dependencies (compile, test, runtime) from the MavenProject object ('property', remember?) The MavenProject object has a property called 'runtimeClasspathElements'. This gives you a list of strings that are fully qualified file system paths to the classes in the ${} as well as all of the dependency JARs on which the client project depends. You'll then have to load them yourself. I did so with a URLClassLoader (part of the JDK). I used the following function for creating the classloader :

    private static URLClassLoader getDependencyClassloader(List dependencies) throws MalformedURLException {
    List classpathUrls = new Vector();

    URL url = null;
    for(int index = dependencies.size() - 1; index >= 0; index--) {
    url = new File(dependencies.get(index)).toURI().toURL();

    url.toExternalForm().endsWith(".jar") ?
    url :
    new URL(url.getProtocol(),url.getHost(),url.getPort(),url.getFile() + "/") //add the '/' o indicate a directory );
    URLClassLoader ucl = new URLClassLoader(classpathUrls.toArray(new RL[] {}), Thread.currentThread().getContextClassLoader());

    return ucl;

    Once you have this class loader, you can use it in the long version of Class.forName() to load any classes you may need, as well as perform any loading logic you need with the .getResources() functions on the classloader.

I'll be doing more plugin development in the coming months I'm sure, so I'll try to post what I learn here, but that's about it for now.

No comments: