OSGi DS & Metatype & SCR properties

When I wrote the last blog post on migrating to OSGi annotations, I already mentioned that the property annotations you used to use with SCR annotations cannot be migrated 1:1, but instead you have to decide if you add it the OCD or if you add them as properties to the @Component annotation.

I was remembered of that when I worked on the fixing the process label properties for the workflow steps contained in ACS AEM Commons (PR 1645). And the more I think about it, the more I get the impression that this might be causing some confusion in the adoption of the OSGI annotations.

Excursion to the OSGi specification

First of all, in OSGi there 2 specifications, which are important in this case: Declarative Services (DS, chapter 112 in the OSGI r6 enterprise specification, sometimes also referenced as Service Component Model) and the Metatype Services (chapter 105 in the OSGI r6 enterprise specification). See the OSGI website for download (unfortunately there is no HTML version available for r6, only PDFs).

Declarative Services deals with the services and components, their relations and the required things around it. Quoting from the spec (112.1):

The service component model uses a declarative model for publishing, finding and binding to OSGi services. This model simplifies the task of authoring OSGi services by performing the work of registering the service and handling service dependencies. This minimizes the amount of code a programmer has to write; it also allows service components to be loaded only when they are needed.

Metatype Services care about configuration of services. Quoting from chapter 105.1

The Metatype specification defines interfaces that allow bundle developers to describe attribute types in a computer readable form using so-called metadata. The purpose of this specification is to allow services to specify the type information of data that they can use as arguments. The data is based on attributes, which are key/value pairs like properties.

Ok, how does this relate to the @Property annotation in the Felix SCR annotations? I would say, that this annotation cannot be clearly attributed to either DS or Metatype, but it served both.

You could add @Properties as annotation to class, or you could add it as with an @Property to a field. You could add a property “metatype=true” to the annotation, and then it appeared in the OSGI console (then it was a “real” metatype property in the sense of the Metatype specification).

But in either way, all the properties were provided through the ServiceContext.getProperties() method; that means, in reality it never really made a difference how you defined the property, if a the class level or to properties, if you added the metatype=true property or not. That was nice and in most times also very convenient.

This changed with the OSGI annotations. Because now the properties are described in a class annotated with the @ObjectClassDefinition annotation. Type-safe and named. But here it’s clearly a Metatype thing (it’s configuration), and it cannot be used with the Declarative Service (the services and components thing) in parallel. Now you have to make the decision: Is it a configuration item (something I use in the code) or is it a property which influences the component itself?

As an example, with SCR annotations you could write

@Component @Service
public class HeaderServlet implements SlingSafeMethodsServet { ...

Now, as these properties were visible via metatype as well, you could also overwrite them using some OSGI configuration and register the servlet on a different selector just by configuration. Or you could read these properties from the ServiceContext. That was not a problem (and hopefully noone ever really used it …).

With OSGI annotations this is no longer possible. You have configuration and component properties. You can change the configuration, but not the component properties any more.

What does that mean for you?

Mostly, don’t change all properties blindly to properties of the @ObjectClassDefinition object. For example the label of a workflow step is not configuration, but rather a property. That means there you should use something like this:

@Component(properties= {
"process.label=My process label"
public class MyWorkflowProcess implements WorkflowProcess {...

Disclaimer: I am not an OSGI expert, this is just my impression from dealing with that stuff a lot. Carsten, David, feel free to to correct me 🙂

One thought on “OSGi DS & Metatype & SCR properties

Comments are closed.