Reachability Metadata

The dynamic language features of the JVM (including reflection and resource handling) compute the dynamically-accessed program elements such as invoked methods or resource URLs at runtime. The native-image tool performs static analysis while building a native binary to determine those dynamic features, but it cannot always exhaustively predict all uses. To ensure inclusion of these elements into the native binary, you should provide reachability metadata (in further text referred as metadata) to the native-image builder. Providing the builder with reachability metadata also ensures seamless compatibility with third-party libraries at runtime.

Metadata can be provided to the native-image builder in following ways:

Table of Contents #

Computing Metadata in Code #

Computing metadata in code can be achieved in two ways:

  1. By providing constant arguments to functions that dynamically access elements of the JVM. A good example of such a function is the Class.forName method. In the following code:

     class ReflectiveAccess {
         public Class<Foo> fetchFoo() throws ClassNotFoundException {
             return Class.forName("Foo");
         }
     }
    

    the Class.forName("Foo") will be computed into a constant when native binary is built and stored in its initial heap. If the class Foo does not exist, the call will be transformed into throw ClassNotFoundException("Foo").

  2. By initializing classes at build time and storing dynamically accessed elements into the initial heap of the native executable. For example:

     class InitializedAtBuildTime {
         private static Class<?> aClass;
         static {
             try {
                 aClass = Class.forName(readFile("class.txt"));
             } catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
                 throw RuntimeException(e);
             }
         }
    
         public Class<?> fetchClass() {
             return aClass;
         }
     }
    

When metadata is computed in code, the dynamically accessed elements will be included into the native executable’s heap only if that part of the heap is reachable through an enclosing method (for example, ReflectiveAccess#fetchFoo) or a static field (for example, InitializedAtBuildTime.aClass).

Specifying Metadata with JSON #

Each dynamic Java feature that requires metadata has a corresponding JSON file named <feature>-config.json. The JSON file consists of entries that tell Native Image the elements to include. For example, Java reflection metadata is specified in reflection-config.json, and a sample entry looks like:

{
  "name": "Foo"
}

Each entry in json-based metadata should be conditional to avoid unnecessary growth in the size of the native binary. A condition is specified in the following way:

{
  "condition": {
    "typeReachable": "<fully-qualified-class-name>"
  },
  <metadata-entry>
}

An entry with a typeReachable condition is considered only when the fully-qualified class is reachable. Currently, we support only typeReachable as a condition.

Metadata Types #

Native Image accepts the following types of reachability metadata:

  • Java reflection (the java.lang.reflect.* API) enables Java code to examine its own classes, methods, fields, and their properties at run time.
  • JNI allows native code to access classes, methods, fields and their properties at run time.
  • Resources and Resource Bundles allow arbitrary files present in the application to be loaded.
  • Dynamic JDK Proxies create classes on demand that implement a given list of interfaces.
  • Serialization enables writing and reading Java objects to and from streams.
  • Predefined Classes provide support for dynamically generated classes.

Reflection #

Computing Reflection Metadata in Code #

Some reflection methods are treated specially and are evaluated at build time when given constant arguments. These methods, in each of the listed classes, are:

  • java.lang.Class: getField, getMethod, getConstructor, getDeclaredField, getDeclaredMethod, getDeclaredConstructor, forName, getClassLoader
  • java.lang.invoke.MethodHandles: publicLookup, privateLookupIn, arrayConstructor, arrayLength, arrayElementGetter, arrayElementSetter, arrayElementVarHandle, byteArrayViewVarHandle, byteBufferViewVarHandle, lookup
  • java.lang.invoke.MethodHandles.Lookup: in , findStatic , findVirtual , findConstructor , findClass , accessClass , findSpecial , findGetter , findSetter , findVarHandle , findStaticGetter , findStaticSetter , findStaticVarHandle , unreflect , unreflectSpecial , unreflectConstructor , unreflectGetter , unreflectSetter , unreflectVarHandle
  • java.lang.invoke.MethodType: methodType, genericMethodType, changeParameterType, insertParameterTypes, appendParameterTypes, replaceParameterTypes, dropParameterTypes, changeReturnType, erase, generic, wrap, unwrap, parameterType, parameterCount, returnType, lastParameterType

Below are examples of calls that are replaced with the corresponding metadata element:

Class.forName("java.lang.Integer")
Class.forName("java.lang.Integer", true, ClassLoader.getSystemClassLoader())
Class.forName("java.lang.Integer").getMethod("equals", Object.class)
Integer.class.getDeclaredMethod("bitCount", int.class)
Integer.class.getConstructor(String.class)
Integer.class.getDeclaredConstructor(int.class)
Integer.class.getField("MAX_VALUE")
Integer.class.getDeclaredField("value")

When passing constant arrays, the following approaches to declare and populate an array are equivalent from the point of view of the native-image builder:

Class<?>[] params0 = new Class<?>[]{String.class, int.class};
Integer.class.getMethod("parseInt", params0);
Class<?>[] params1 = new Class<?>[2];
params1[0] = Class.forName("java.lang.String");
params1[1] = int.class;
Integer.class.getMethod("parseInt", params1);
Class<?>[] params2 = {String.class, int.class};
Integer.class.getMethod("parseInt", params2);

Specifying Reflection Metadata in JSON #

Reflection metadata can be specified in the reflect-config.json file. The JSON file is an array of reflection entries:

[
    {
        "condition": {
            "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
        },
        "name": "<class>",
        "methods": [
            {"name": "<methodName>", "parameterTypes": ["<param-one-type>"]}
        ],
        "queriedMethods": [
            {"name": "<methodName>", "parameterTypes": ["<param-one-type>"]}
        ],
        "fields": [
            {"name": "<fieldName>", "allowWrite": true}
        ],
        "allDeclaredMethods": true,
        "allDeclaredFields": true,
        "allDeclaredConstructors": true,
        "allPublicMethods": true,
        "allPublicFields": true,
        "allPublicConstructors": true,
        "queryAllDeclaredMethods": true,
        "queryAllDeclaredConstructors": true,
        "queryAllPublicMethods": true,
        "queryAllPublicConstructors": true,
        "unsafeAllocated": true
    }
]

The fields in a reflection entry have the following meaning:

  • condition: See Conditional Metadata Entries
  • name: Name of the class that will be reflectively looked up. This property is mandatory.
  • methods: List class methods that can be looked up and executed reflectively. Each method is described by its name and a list of parameter types. The parameter types are fully qualified Java class names.
  • queriedMethods: List of class methods that can only be looked up. The description of each method is identical to the methods list.
  • fields: List of class fields that can be looked up. Each field can optionally contain the allowWrite property. If allowWrite is set, this field can be written to reflectively even if marked as final.
  • all<access>(Methods/Fields/Constructors): Registers all methods/fields/constructors for lookup. Methods and constructors can also be invoked. <access> refers to different ways of querying these members in Java and can be either Declared or Public. For more information, see java.lang.Class.getDeclaredMethods() and java.lang.Class.getPublicMethods().
  • queryAll<access>(Methods/Constructors): Registers all methods/constructors for lookup only.
  • unsafeAllocated: Allows objects of this class to be allocated using Unsafe.allocateInstance.

Java Native Interface #

Java Native Interface (JNI) allows native code to access arbitrary Java types and type members. Native Image cannot predict what such native code will lookup, write to or invoke. To build a native binary for a Java application that uses JNI, JNI metadata is most likely required. For example, the given C code:

jclass clazz = FindClass(env, "java/lang/String");

looks up the java.lang.String class, which can then be used, for example, to invoke different String methods. The generated metadata entry for the above call would look like:

{
  "name": "java.lang.String"
}

JNI Metadata In Code #

It is not possible to specify JNI metadata in code.

JNI Metadata in JSON #

Metadata for JNI is provided in jni-config.json files. The JSON schema of JNI metadata is identical to the Reflection metadata schema.

Resources and Resource Bundles #

Java is capable of accessing any resource on the application class path, or the module path for which the requesting code has permission to access. Resource metadata instructs the native-image builder to include specified resources and resource bundles in the produced binary. A consequence of this approach is that some parts of the application that use resources for configuration (such as logging) are effectively configured at build time.

The code below accesses a text file and requires providing resource metadata:

class Example {
    public void conquerTheWorld() {
        ...
        InputStream plan = Example.class.getResourceAsStream("plans/v2/conquer_the_world.txt");
        ...
    }
}

Resource Metadata In Code #

It is not possible to specify used resources and resource bundles in code.

Resource Metadata in JSON #

Metadata for resources is provided in resource-config.json files.

{
  "resources": {
    "includes": [
      {
        "condition": {
          "typeReachable": "<condition-class>" 
        },
        "pattern": ".*\\.txt"
      }
    ],
    "excludes": [
      {
        "condition": {
          "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
        },
        "pattern": ".*\\.txt"
      }
    ]
  },
  "bundles": [
    {
      "condition": {
        "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
      },
      "name": "fully.qualified.bundle.name",
      "locales": ["en", "de", "sk"]
    }
  ]
}

Native Image will iterate over all resources and match their relative paths against the Java regex specified in includes. If the path matches the regex, the resource is included. The excludes statement instructs native-image to omit certain included resources that match the given pattern.

Dynamic Proxy #

The JDK supports generating proxy classes for a given interface list. Native Image does not support generating new classes at runtime and requires metadata to properly run code that uses these proxies.

Note: The order of interfaces in the interface list used to create a proxy matters. Creating a proxy with two identical interface lists in which the interfaces are not in the same order, creates two distinct proxy classes.

Code Example #

The following code creates two distinct proxies:

import java.lang.reflect.InvocationHandler;
import java.lang.reflect.Proxy;

interface IA {
}

interface IB {
}

class Example {
    public void doWork() {
        InvocationHandler handler;
        ...
        Object proxyOne = Proxy.newProxyInstance(Example.class.getClassLoader(), new Class[]{IA.class, IB.class}, handler);
        Object proxyTwo = Proxy.newProxyInstance(Example.class.getClassLoader(), new Class[]{IB.class, IA.class}, handler);
        ...
    }
}

Dynamic Proxy Metadata In Code #

The following methods are evaluated at build time when called with constant arguments:

  • java.lang.reflect.Proxy.getProxyClass
  • java.lang.reflect.Proxy.newProxyInstance

Dynamic Proxy Metadata in JSON #

Metadata for dynamic proxies is provided in proxy-config.json files.

[
  {
    "condition": {
      "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
    },
    "interfaces": [
      "IA",
      "IB"
    ]
  }
]

Serialization #

Java can serialize any class that implements the Serializable interface. Serialization usually requires reflectively accessing the class of the object being serialized. The JDK also requires additional information about the class to serialize its object. Native Image supports serialization with proper metadata.

Serialization Metadata In Code #

It is not possible to register classes used for serialization in code.

Serialization Metadata in JSON #

Metadata for serialization is provided in serialization-config.json files.

{
  "types": [
    {
      "condition": {
        "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
      },
      "name": "<fully-qualified-class-name>",
      "customTargetConstructorClass": "<custom-target-constructor-class>"
    }
  ],
  "lambdaCapturingTypes": [
    {
      "condition": {
        "typeReachable": "<condition-class>"
      },
      "name": "<fully-qualified-class-name>",
      "customTargetConstructorClass": "<custom-target-constructor-class>"
    }
  ]
}

Each entry in types enables serializing and deserializing objects of the class given by name.

Lambda serialization is also supported: all lambdas declared in the methods of the class given by name can be serialized/deserialized.

Predefined Classes #

Native Image requires all classes to be known at build time (a “closed-world assumption”).

However, Java has support for loading new classes at runtime. To emulate class loading, the agent can trace dynamically loaded classes and save their bytecode for later use by the native-image builder. At runtime, if there is an attempt to load a class with the same name and bytecodes as one of the classes encountered during tracing, the predefined class will be supplied to the application.

Note: Predefined classes metadata is not meant to be manually written.

Predefined Classes Metadata In Code #

It is not possible to specify predefined classes in code.

Predefined Classes Metadata in JSON #

Metadata for predefined classes is provided in predefined-classes-config.json files.

[
  {
    "type": "agent-extracted",
    "classes": [
      {
        "hash": "<class-bytecodes-hash>",
        "nameInfo": "<class-name"
      }
    ]
  }
]

The JSON schema is accompanied by the agent-extracted-predefined-classes directory that contains the bytecode of the listed classes.

Further Reading #

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