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Component Development and Assembly Using OSGi Services

Using components to build software systems will provide many architectural advantages apart from promoting ease of reuse

This article introduces the concepts of Component Oriented Development and Assembly (CODA) using the OSGi Service platform with an example application. The article starts with an introduction to software components, elaborates with an example application, followed by an overview of the OSGi Service platform, and an implementation of the example application using this platform.

Introduction to Software Components
Components are parts that can be assembled to form a larger system. Electronic components such as ICs (Integrated Circuits) are assembled together to build an electronic system; similarly software components are assembled together to build a software system. Software systems have a static form as well as a dynamic runtime form. Software components can be assembled either in static form or dynamic form. In either case, the software component is an independent unit of development, deployment, and assembly. Using components to build software systems will provide many architectural advantages apart from promoting ease of reuse.

Age Calculation - An Example Application
Consider an application meant for calculating the age of people. Assume this application prompts the user to provide her personal details such as name and date of birth. Once the user provides the details, the application calculates the age of the person as of today and displays it with a personal greeting. Such an application can be built from the following software components:

  • UserProfile Component: Responsible for collecting the personal details of the user such as name and date of birth
  • Age Component: Responsible for calculating the age, given the date of birth
  • Greeting Component: Responsible for displaying the greeting message along with age of the person; needs to make use of the UserProfile component to obtain input from the user and Age component to calculate the age
  • AgeCalculationApp Component: Responsible for invoking the Greeting service provided by Greeting component

The components can be represented in a UML component diagram as shown in Figure 1. The dotted arrow lines in the diagram denote dependency.

Figure 1: Components in the Age Calculation application

Interfaces of Software Components
A software interface is a collection of software operations. Software components interact with one another by invoking the software operations. To facilitate structured interactions across components, each component exposes one or more software interfaces through which other components can interact. The exposed interfaces of a component are called as its "provided interfaces." Internals of the component implement the service contracts exposed by the provided interfaces.

Apart from providing services, a component needs to consume services provided by other components. The set of services that a component wants to consume is specified through "required interfaces". A component can work with any other component that provides the required interfaces. Hence there is no tight coupling between one component and another; the dependency of a component is only with interfaces and not with other components.

Interfaces in the Age Calculation Application
Let us identify the interfaces provided and required by each of the four components in the Age Calculation application.

Age Component
The Age component is responsible for calculating the age, given the date of birth. Hence it needs to provide a service for calculating the age. Let's expose this service through a provided interface IAgeCalculation. The Java code for this interface is given in Figure 2.

Figure 2: AgeCalculation Java interface code

In the IAgeCalculation interface definition, Calendar is a data type defined in java.util package to represent the date. IAge is a custom-defined data type to hold the age. The Java code for IAge is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Java code for data type IAge

The Age Component can be represented in a UML component diagram as shown in Figure 4. The lollipop connector from the component denotes provided interface.

Figure 4: UML representation of Age component

UserProfile Component
The UserProfile component is responsible for collecting the personal information from end user and passing it back to the consuming component. Let us define an interface called as IUserProfileCollection to expose this service. The Java code for this interface is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Java code for IUserProfileCollection interface

When the method collectUserProfile() is called, the component starts an interactive session with the end user to collect her personal information. During the user interaction session, the method isProfileCollected() will return false; after the user interaction session has finished and the user profile has been collected, this method will return true. At this time, the user profile is ready for pick-up by the consuming component and it can do so by invoking giveUserProfile() method.

giveUserProfile() method returns the user profile information through a custom defined data type IUserProfile. Java code for IUserProfile data type is given in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Java code for IUserProfile data type

The UserProfile component in a UML component diagram notation is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: UML representation of UserProfile component

Greeting Component
The Greeting component is responsible for displaying the greeting message along with the age. We'll expose this service through the IGreeting interface. The Java code for IGreeting interface is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8: Java code for interface IGreeting

The Greeting component provides the IGreeting service, and it requires the IAgeCalculation and IUserProfileCollection services. The required and provided interfaces of the Greeting component can be represented using the UML component diagram as shown in Figure 9. The receptacle sockets in the component diagram denote required interfaces.

Figure 9: UML representation of Greeting component

AgeCalculationApp Component
The AgeCalculationApp component is responsible for invoking the IGreeting service of Greeting component. The AgeCalculationApp itself does not provide any service. The UML diagram for this component is shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10: UML representation of AgeCalculationApp

Application Assembly
Components are assembled together to build a software system. Components for an assembly should be chosen such a way that, amongst the chosen components the set of required interfaces is fulfilled by the set of provided interfaces. The four components of the example application can be assembled to result in Age Calculation application. UML component diagram denoting this assembly is shown in Figure 11. Connectors with a lollipop and a receptacle together show how two components assemble over a common interface (one component provides the interface and another component requires it).

Figure 11: UML representation of Age Calculation application assembly

Once an application is assembled, specific components from the assembly can be replaced with compatible newer components. Let us say we have two new components - GUIUserProfile and GUIGreeting, which have same interfaces as UserProfile and Greeting components, respectively. Then these new components can replace the old components to provide us with a GUI application. The application assembly would then look like Figure 12.

Figure 12: Age Calculation GUI Application Assembly

Introduction to the OSGi Service Platform
OSGi Service is a standards based software development platform. The platform standards are specified by the OSGi Alliance (http://www.osgi.org), formerly known as the Open Services Gateway initiative.  OSGi alliance is an industry backed nonprofit organization.

OSGi platform provides a modularity and component model on top of Java. Figure 13 illustrates how OSGi logically fits in a development / deployment stack.

Figure 13: OSGi From Development / Deployment Perspective

OSGi Framework
At the core of the OSGi platform is the OSGi framework defined by standards. OSGi framework is the runtime environment on which OSGi applications can be executed. OSGi framework specifies a common API using which application developers can develop OSGi applications. The OSGi framework specifications is used by OSGi framework developers also, who build implementations of the framework as per the specifications.

There are a number of framework implementations available from different developers. A few well known framework implementations are listed below:

The functionality of OSGi framework is divided into many layers. For our purposes, we shall focus on Modules Layer and Services Layer.  Figure 14 illustrates the layers we would like to focus.

The modules layer is the bottom most layer interacting with the runtime framework. The modules layer defines a modularity framework on top of standard Java so that modules expose and interact via well-defined APIs. Individual module is called as a "bundle" in OSGi. OSGi bundle is the atomic unit of deployment on an OSGi framework. An OSGi bundle is nothing but a Java Archive (JAR) File with some special manifest information that would be used by the OSGi framework when the bundle is deployed. Unlike a normal JAR file, which exposes all its code when it is deployed on a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), the bundle does not expose all the code contained within. Only code (Java packages) marked for explicit export is exposed outside the bundle.

Figure 14: OSGi Framework Functional Layers

Above the Module layer is the Services layer. An OSGi Service is defined by a Java interface. Any bundle can implement the service, and register the service with the OSGi Service Registry. OSGi Service Registry, defined as part of framework standards, supports a publish, subscribe, and look-up mechanism of exchanging services across components. A bundle can register the service that it has implemented with the OSGi Service Registry. A bundle requiring a service can query the OSGi Service Registry to look-up any registered service implementation. Instead of looking-up, a bundle can also subscribe to be notified on service registration / unregistration events. These mechanisms make the bundles that provide service and bundles that consume service unaware of each other, leading to independent development and deployment of these components. Once deployed, they can be  assembled dynamically using the OSGi Service Registry.

Implementing Age Calculation Using OSGi
The Age Calculation application has one bundle for each of the components. Each bundle has a Java package that is exposed for access from outside and an internal Java package. The exposed package defines the interfaces and the internal package contains implementation classes. The package diagram for all the bundles is shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15: Age Calculation Application bundles

The service provided by each bundle is exposed by using the OSGi Declarative Services framework. Using the same framework, each bundle also specifies the list of services it requires. The OSGi Declarative Services framework (also known as Service Component Runtime), will perform the work of registering the provided service with the OSGi Service Registry and obtaining the required service through look-up into OSGi Service Registry. Thus, the Declarative Services framework provides automatic assembly of deployed components.

As an example, let us consider the Greeting bundle. The Declarative Services specification of the components in this bundle is done through an XML file, which is given in Figure 16.

Figure 16: Greeting component Declarative Service Definition

The XML file contains following metadata about the Greeting component:

  • A component by name com.demo.greeting is defined
  • The component is implemented by the class com.demo.greeting.internal.Greeting
  • The component requires two interfaces - IuserProfileCollection and IAgeCalculation. These required interfaces should be dynamically wired to this component using setUserProfileCollection() and setAgeCalculation() methods on the component implementation class.
  • The component provides a service through the provided interface com.demo.greeting.IGreeting.

To understand how the Greeting component works, some portions of the implementation class is presented in Figure 17. The Greeting class has two field variables referring to the services required by this component. In the component Declarative Service metadata setter methods of these two variables are linked to the service reference (required interface). Hence when the Service Component Runtime (SCR) activates this component, it would call the setter methods to point these variables to objects which provide the service. For example, an instance of AgeCalculator object from Age component would be passed to ageCalculation_ member variable.

Figure 17: Implementation of Greeting component

The Greeting class's  implementation of greet() method obtains the user profile by invoking IUserProfileCollection service. From the obtained profile, date of birth is extracted and IAgeCalculation service is used to calculate the age. Finally the method displays the age along with a greeting to the user.

Output from the Example Application
The Age Calculation application, with console mode user interaction components, has the following output.

osgi> What is your first name?


What is your last name?


What is your title (Mr./Ms./Mrs./Prof./Dr.)?


What is your year of birth?


What is your month of birth (1-12)?


What is your date of birth (1-31)?


Hello Mr. Albert Einstein, you are 132 years, 10 months, and 3 days old.

If we replace the Greeting and UserProfile components in the application assembly with GUIGreeting and GUIUserProfile components, the application output is as below:

The source code of the application can be downloaded as a zip file containing an Eclipse workspace folder. To open the source code and run the application simply unzip the folder and switch the Eclipse workspace to point to the unzipped folder. Choose the appropriate components in the Run Configuration to run either console version or the GUI version of the assembly. For example, for the GUI version, the following run configuration will be applicable:

More Stories By Piram Manickam

Piram Manickam works at Infosys Limited. He would like to acknowledge and thank Sangeetha S, a beloved colleague and friend, for her invaluable contributions in this work.

More Stories By Subrahmanya SV

Subrahmanya SV works at Infosys Limited. He would like to acknowledge and thank Sangeetha S, a beloved colleague and friend, for her invaluable contributions in this work.

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Most Recent Comments
newuniverse 01/31/12 03:10:00 AM EST

This is a very simple and descriptive example. Good job.

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