OSGi Services and Dependency Injection with Declarative Services

In Liferay DXP, the OSGi framework registers objects as services. Each service offers functionality and can leverage functionality other services provide. The OSGi Services model supports a collaborative environment for objects.

Declarative Services (DS) provides a service component model on top of OSGi Services. DS service components are marked with the @Component annotation and implement or extend a service class. Service components can refer to and use each other’s services. The Service Component Runtime (SCR) registers component services and handles binding them to other components that reference them.

Here’s how the “magic” happens:

  1. Service registration: On installing a module that contains a service component, the SCR creates a component configuration that associates the component with its specified service type and stores it in a service registry.

  2. Service reference handling: On installing a module whose service component references another service type, the SCR searches the registry for a component configuration that matches the service type and on finding a match binds an instance of that service to the referring component.

It’s publish, find, and bind at its best!

How do you use DS to register and bind services? Does it involve creating XML files? No, it’s much easier than that. You use two annotations: @Component and @Reference.

  • @Component: Add this annotation to a class definition to make the class a component–a service provider.

  • @Reference: Add this annotation to a field to inject it with a service that matches the field’s type.

The @Component annotation makes the class an OSGi component. Setting a service property to a particular service type in the annotation, allows other components to reference the service component by the specified service type.

For example, the following class is a service component of type SomeApi.class.

    service = SomeApi.class
public class Service1 implements SomeApi {


On deploying this class’s module, the SCR creates a component configuration that associates the class with the service type SomeApi.

Specifying a service reference is easy too. Applying the @Reference annotation to a field marks it to be injected with a service matching the field’s type.

SomeApi _someApi;

On deploying this class’s module, the SCR finds a component configuration of the class type SomeApi and binds the service to this referencing component class.

At build time in modules created from Liferay project templates, bnd creates a component description file for each module’s components automatically. The file specifies the component’s services, dependencies, and activation characteristics. On module deployment, the OSGi framework reads the component description to create the component and manage its dependency on other components.

The SCR stands ready to pair service components with each other. For each referencing component, the SCR binds an instance of the targeted service to it.

As an improvement over dependency injection with Spring, OSGi Declarative Services supports dynamic dependency injection. You can create and publish service components for other classes to use. You can update the components and even publish alternative component implementations for a service. This kind of dynamism is a powerful part of Liferay DXP.

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