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The JBossNS Architecture

The JBossNS architecture is a Java socket/RMI based implementation of the javax.naming.Context interface. It is a client/server implementation that can be accessed remotely. The implementation is optimized so that access from within the same VM in which the JBossNS server is running does not involve sockets. Same VM access occurs through an object reference available as a global singleton. Figure 3.5 illustrates some of the key classes in the JBossNS implementation and their relationships.

Figure 3.5 Key components in the JBossNS architecture.

Start with the NamingService MBean because you have already seen this class when the core JBoss services were discussed. You can then move on to learn how a client's use of InitialContext creates a JBossNS NamingContext.

Recall that the NamingService MBean was introduced when the key MBean services found in the jboss.jcml configuration file in Chapter 2, "JBoss Server Architecture Overview," was discussed. You will now learn about how the NamingService embeds and configures an org.jnp.server.Main instance to start the JBossNS naming server.

The NamingService is an MBean that delegates its functionality to an org.jnp.server.Main MBean. The reason for the duplicate MBeans is because JBossNS started out as a stand-alone JNDI implementation, and can still be run as such. The NamingService MBean embeds the Main instance into the JBoss server so that usage of JNDI with the same VM as the JBoss server does not incur any socket overhead. The configurable attributes of the NamingService are really the configurable attributes of the JBossNS Main MBean. The setting of any attributes on the NamingService MBean simply set the corresponding attributes on the Main MBean the NamingService contains. When the NamingService is started, it starts the contained Main MBean to activate the JNDI naming service.

The NamingService also creates the java:comp context such that access to this context is isolated based on the context ClassLoader of the thread that accesses the java:comp context. This provides the application component private ENC that is required by the J2EE specs. The segregation of java:comp by ClassLoader is accomplished by binding a javax.naming.Reference to a Context that uses the org.jboss.naming.ENCFactory as its javax.naming.ObjectFactory. When a client performs a lookup of java:comp, or any subcontext, the ENCFactory checks the thread context ClassLoader, and performs a lookup into a map using the ClassLoader as the key. If a Context instance does not exist for the ClassLoader instance, one is created and associated with the ClassLoader in the ENCFactory map. Thus, correct isolation of an application component's ENC relies on each component receiving a unique ClassLoader that is associated with the component threads of execution.


The details of threads and the thread context class loader won't be explored here, but the JNDI tutorial provides a concise discussion that is applicable. See http://java.sun.com/products/jndi/tutorial/beyond/misc/classloader.html for the details.

When the Main MBean is started, it performs the following tasks:

  • Instantiates an org.jnp.naming.NamingService instance and sets this as the local VM server instance. This is used by any org.jnp.interfaces.NamingContext instances that are created within the JBoss server VM to avoid RMI calls over TCP/IP.

  • Exports the NamingServer instance's org.jnp.naming.interfaces.Naming RMI interface using the configured RmiPort, ClientSocketFactory, ServerSocketFactory attributes.

  • Creates a socket that listens on the interface given by the BindAddress and Port attributes.

  • Spawns a thread to accept connections on the socket.

The JBossNS InitialContext Factory

The starting point for any JNDI client access is the creation of an InitialContext object with the environment properties of a naming service established with whom the client wants to communicate. An example of a typical jndi.properties configuration for JBossNS was shown in Listing 3.1.

The properties required for the InitialContext to work with the JBossNS JNDI provider are as follows:

  • java.naming.factory.initial (or Context.INITIAL_CONTEXT_FACTORY)—The name of the environment property for specifying the initial context factory to use. The value of the property should be the fully qualified class name of the factory class that will create an initial context. If it is not specified, a javax.naming.NoInitialContextException will be thrown when an InitialContext object is created. This must be the org.jnp.interfaces.NamingContextFactory class for JBossNS.

  • java.naming.provider.url (or Context.PROVIDER_URL)—The name of the environment property for specifying the location of the JBossNS service provider the client will use. The NamingContextFactory class uses this information to know which JBossNS server to connect to. The value of the property should be a URL string. For JBossNS the URL format is jnp://host:port/[jndi_path]. The jnp: portion of the URL is the protocol and refers to the socket/RMI based protocol used by JBossNS. The jndi_path portion of the URL is an option JNDI name relative to the root context, such as apps or apps/tmp. Everything but the host component is optional. The following examples are equivalent because the default port value is 1099:

    • jnp://www.jboss.org:1099/
    • http://www.jboss.org:1099
    • http://www.jboss.org

  • java.naming.factory.url.pkgs (or Context.URL_PKG_PREFIXES)—The name of the environment property for specifying the list of package prefixes to use when loading in URL context factories. The value of the property should be a colon-separated list of package prefixes for the class name of the factory class that will create a URL context factory. For JBossNS this must be org.jboss.naming:org.jnp.interfaces. This property is essential for locating the jnp: and java: URL context factories bundled with the JBossNS provider.

When a client creates an InitialContext with these JBossNS properties available, the org.jnp.interfaces.NamingContextFactory object is used to create the Context instance that will be used in subsequent operations. The NamingContextFactory is the JBossNS implementation of the javax.naming.spi.InitialContextFactory interface. When the NamingContextFactory class is asked to create a Context, it creates an org.jnp.interfaces.NamingContext instance with the InitialContext environment and name of the context in the global JNDI namespace. It is the NamingContext instance that actually performs the task of connecting to the JBossNS server, and implements the Context interface. The Context.PROVIDER_URL information from the environment indicates from which server to obtain a NamingServer RMI reference.

The association of the NamingContext instance to a NamingServer instance is done in a lazy fashion on the first Context operation that is performed. When a Context operation is performed and the NamingContext has no NamingServer associated with it, it looks to see if its environment properties define a Context.PROVIDER_URL. A Context.PROVIDER_URL defines the host and port of the JBossNS server the Context is to use. If there is a provider URL, the NamingContext first checks to see if a Naming instance keyed by the host and port pair has already been created by checking a NamingContext class static map. It simply uses the existing Naming instance if one for the host port pair has already been obtained. If no Naming instance has been created for the given host and port, the NamingContext connects to the host and port using a socket, and retrieves a Naming RMI stub from the server by reading a java.rmi.MarshalledObject from the socket and invoking its get method. The newly obtained Naming instance is cached in the NamingContext server map under the host and port pair. If no provider URL was specified in the JNDI environment associated with the context, the NamingContext simply uses the in VM Naming instance set by the Main MBean.

The NamingContext implementation of the Context interface delegates all operations to the Naming instance associated with the NamingContext. The NamingServer class that implements the Naming interface uses a java.util.Hashtable as the Context store. There is one unique NamingServer instance for each distinct JNDI Name for a given JBossNS server. There are zero or more transient NamingContext instances active at any given moment that refer to a NamingServer instance. The purpose of the NamingContext is to act as a Context to the Naming interface adaptor that manages translation of the JNDI names passed to the NamingContext. Because a JNDI name can be relative or a URL, it needs to be converted into an absolute name in the context of the JBossNS server to which it refers. This translation is a key function of the NamingContext.

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