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Accessing Resources in Native Image

By default, the native-image tool will not integrate any of the resources that are on the classpath into a native executable. To make calls such as Class.getResource() or Class.getResourceAsStream() (or their corresponding ClassLoader methods) return specific resources (instead of null), you must specify the resources that should be accessible at runtime.

There are several ways a resource can be registered for inclusion and be made accessible at runtime:

  1. Native Image automatically includes a resource configuration file when placed in the META-INF/native-image/ directory. This approach is a great way for libraries and frameworks to provide an out-of-the-box experience.
  2. For more advanced use cases where a resource configuration file is insufficient, resources can be registered programmatically using the public API.
  3. For testing during development, the command-line option provides a useful approach.

Resource Configuration File #

A resource configuration file contains information about the resources that you need to include in a native executable, encoded with patterns matching actual resources on your file system. Such a configuration file has to be named resource-config.json and placed in the META-INF/native-image/ directory so that native-image will automatically make use of it. You can either generate it using the Tracing Agent, and then manually refine it, or create it from scratch. You can choose one of the formats to specify the required resources (or combine them if necessary):

  1. Globs (recommended)
  2. Regular expressions (Regex) (discouraged)

See below a valid configuration file structure (described in more details in resource-config-schema):

  "globs": [
       "glob": "<Glob pattern restricted to only support * and ** wildcards besides literals>"
       "glob": "<another glob pattern>"
  "resources": [
       "pattern": "<Java regex that matches resource(s) to be included in the executable>"
       "pattern": "<another regex>"

Once created, the native-image tool automatically includes a resource configuration file when placed in the META-INF/native-image/ directory. Alternatively, the configuration file’s path can be passed to native-image using the option -H:ResourceConfigurationFiles=/path/to/resource-config.json.

Globs #

You can write a glob pattern to specify any required resources in the globs section of the configuration file. Also, if you use the Tracing Agent to generate the required configuration, it prints all entries in this format.

Globs are the recommended way to provide resources for native-image because they:

  • Have custom handling in native-image that can speed up a resource registration process
  • Are less expressive and therefore less error-prone than regular expressions
  • Provide better support for resource-related checks at runtime

There are several rules to be observed when specifying a resource path:

  • The native-image tool supports only star (*) and globstar (**) wildcard patterns.
    • Per definition, star can match any number of any characters on one level while globstar can match any number of any levels.
    • If there is a need to treat a star literally (without special meaning), it can be escaped using \ .
  • In the glob, a level represents part of the pattern separated with /.
  • When writing glob patterns the following rules must be observed:
    • Glob cannot be empty (for example, "” )
    • Glob cannot end with a trailing slash (/) (for example, “foo/bar/”)
    • Glob cannot contain more than two consecutive (non-escaped) * characters on one level (for example, “foo/***/” )
    • Glob cannot contain empty levels (for example, “foo//bar”)
    • Glob cannot contain two consecutive globstar wildcards (example, “foo/**\/**")
    • Glob cannot have other content on the same level as globstar wildcard (for example, foo/**bar/x)

Regular Expressions (Regex) #

Alternatively, you can write standard Java regular expressions (regex) patterns to specify required resources in the resources section of the configuration file. This approach should only be used in extreme cases if the expressive power of globs is not sufficient.

Example Usage #

Given this project structure:

└── src
    └── main
        └── resources
            ├── Resource0.txt
            └── Resource1.txt


  • All resources can be loaded with:
  • "**/Resource*txt", specified as {"glob":"**/Resource*txt"} in a configuration file (recommended),
  • ".*/Resource.*txt", specified as {"pattern":".*/Resource.*txt"} in a configuration file, or with -H:IncludeResources=".*/Resource.*txt" on the command line.
  • Resource0.txt can be loaded with:
    • **/Resource0.txt - globs format
    • or with .*/Resource0.txt - regular expressions format
  • Resource0.txt and Resource1.txt can be loaded with:
    • **/Resource0.txt and **/Resource1.txt- globs format
    • .*/Resource0.txt and .*/Resource1.txt (or alternatively with a single .*/(Resource0|Resource1).txt$) - regular expressions format

Check this guide which illustrates how to include a resource into a native executable.

Public API #

You can also register resources programmatically, using the Native Image Feature API. With this approach, you cannot specify a resource using patterns, but only with its literal name. Note that resource registration cannot be performed after the beforeAnalysis phase.

Command-Line Option #

Alternatively, you can specify individual resource paths directly to the native-image tool as follows:

native-image -H:IncludeResources="<Java regex that matches resources to be included in the executable>" ...

Note that with this approach, you can only specify patterns written in the regex format, and therefore all advantages of using globs will not be accessible.

Embedded Resources Information #

There are two ways to see which resources were included in a native executable:

  1. Use the option --emit build-report to generate a build report for your native executable. There you can find information about all included resources under the Resources tab.
  2. Use the option -H:+GenerateEmbeddedResourcesFile to generate a JSON file embedded-resources.json, listing all included resources.

For each registered resource you get:

  • Module (or unnamed if a resource does not belong to any module)
  • Name (resource path)
  • Origin (location of the resource on the system)
  • Type (whether the resource is a file, directory, or missing)
  • Size (actual resource size)

Note: The size of a resource directory represents only the size of the names of all directory entries (not a sum of the content sizes).

Resource Bundles #

Java localization support (java.util.ResourceBundle) enables Java code to load L10N resources and show the user messages suitable for runtime settings such as time, locale, and format.

Native Image needs knowledge ahead-of-time of the resource bundles your application uses so that it can load and store the appropriate bundles for usage in the generated executable. The bundles can be specified in the resource configuration file (see above), in the bundles section:

  "bundles": [
  "resources": <see above>

Alternatively, bundles can be specified directly as options to the native-image tool as follows:

native-image -H:IncludeResourceBundles=your.pgk.Bundle,another.pkg.Resource,etc.Bundle ...

By default, resource bundles are included for all requested locales. To optimize this, use IncludeResourceBundles with a locale-specific substring, for example, It will only include the bundle for French (France).

Locales #

It is also possible to specify which locales should be included in a native executable and which should be the default. For example, to switch the default locale to Swiss German and also include French and English, use the following options:

native-image -Duser.language=de -H:IncludeLocales=fr,en

The locales are specified using language tags. You can include all locales via -H:+IncludeAllLocales, but note that it increases the size of the resulting executable.

Resources in Java Modules #

For every resource (either specified with globs or regular expressions) or resource bundle, it is possible to specify the module from which the resource or resource bundle should be taken.

  • For glob-based resource patterns, you can specify a module name in the separate module field in each entry.
  • For a regex-based resource patterns or bundles, you can specify a module name before the resource/bundle name with : as a separator.

For example:

   "globs": [
        "module:": "library-module",
        "glob": "resource-file.txt" 
   "resources": [
        "pattern": "library-module:^resource-file.txt$"
   "bundles": [

This will cause the native-image tool to only include resource-file.txt from the Java module library-module. If other modules or the classpath contains resources that match the pattern resource-file.txt, only the one in library-module is registered for inclusion in the executable. Similarly, if other resource bundles are accessible with the same bundle name your.pkg.Bundle, only the one from main-module is included. Native Image will also ensure that the modules are guaranteed to be accessible at runtime.

The following code pattern

InputStream resource = ModuleLayer.boot().findModule(moduleName).getResourceAsStream(resourcePath);

will always work as expected for resources registered as described above (even if the module does not contain any code that is considered reachable by static analysis).

Java VM Mode of Localization #

Resource Bundle lookup is a complex and dynamic mechanism which utilizes a lot of Java VM infrastructure. As a result, it causes the size of the executable to increase for smaller applications such as HelloWorld. Therefore, an optimized mode is set by default in which this lookup is simplified utilizing the fact that all resource bundles are known ahead of build time. For the original Java VM lookup, use the -H:-LocalizationOptimizedMode option.

Further Reading #

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