Using a Service Tracker

Your non-OSGi and non-bean classes can access any service registered in the OSGi runtime using a Service Tracker. It lets you access any OSGi services including your own Service Builder services and the services published by Liferay’s modules (like the popular UserLocalService).

You can create a service tracker in two ways:

  1. Create a service tracker where you need it.

  2. Create a class that extends org.osgi.util.tracker.ServiceTracker.

  3. Create a service tracker that tracks service events using a callback handler.

Both ways depend on org.osgi.core, whose packages Liferay DXP exports by default. Configure it as compileOnly (Gradle) or provided (Maven). See the Third Party Packages Portal Exports for more information.

Creating a New Service Tracker Where You Need It

To create it directly, do this:

import org.osgi.framework.Bundle;
import org.osgi.framework.FrameworkUtil;
import org.osgi.util.tracker.ServiceTracker;

Bundle bundle = FrameworkUtil.getBundle(this.getClass());
BundleContext bundleContext = bundle.getBundleContext();
ServiceTracker<SomeService, SomeService> serviceTracker =
    new ServiceTracker(bundleContext, SomeService.class, null);;
SomeService someService = serviceTracker.waitForService(500);

Create a Class That Extends ServiceTracker

A better way is to create a class that extends org.osgi.util.tracker.ServiceTracker, because this simplifies your code.

  1. Create a class like this one that extends ServiceTracker:

    public class SomeServiceTracker
        extends ServiceTracker<SomeService, SomeService> {
        public SomeServiceTracker(Object host) {
                SomeService.class, null);
  2. Construct a new instance of your service tracker where you need it. The Object host parameter obtains your own bundle context and must be an object from your own bundle in order to give accurate results.

    ServiceTracker<SomeService, SomeService> someServiceTracker =
        new SomeServiceTracker(this);
  3. When you want to use the service tracker, open it, typically as early as you can.;
  4. Before attempting to use a service, use the Service Tracker to interrogate the service’s state. For example, check whether the service is null:

    SomeService someService = someServiceTracker.getService();
    if (someService == null) {
        _log.warn("The required service 'SomeService' is not available.");
    else {

Note, service trackers have several other utility functions for introspecting tracked services.

  1. Later when your application is being destroyed or undeployed, close the service tracker.


If you need to track multiple services or their events, implement a service tracker that uses callback handlers.

Creating a Service Tracker that Tracks Service Events Using a Callback Handler

If there’s a strong possibility the service might not be available or if you need to track multiple services, the Service Tracker API provides a callback mechanism that operates on service events. To use this, override ServiceTracker’s addingService and removedService methods. Their ServiceReference parameter references an active service object.

Here’s an example ServiceTracker implementation from the OSGi Alliance’s OSGi Core Release 7 specification:

new ServiceTracker<HttpService, MyServlet>(context, HttpService.class, null) {

    public MyServlet addingService(ServiceReference<HttpService> reference) {
        HttpService httpService = context.getService(reference);
        MyServlet myServlet = new MyServlet(httpService);
        return myServlet;

    public void removedService(
        ServiceReference<HttpService> reference, MyServlet myServlet) {

When the HttpService is added to the OSGi registry, this ServiceTracker creates a new wrapper class, MyServlet, which uses the newly added service. When the service is removed from the registry, the removedService method cleans up related resources.

As an alternative to directly overloading ServiceTracker methods, create a org.osgi.util.tracker.ServiceTrackerCustomizer:

class MyServiceTrackerCustomizer 
    implements ServiceTrackerCustomizer<SomeService, MyWrapper> {
    private final BundleContext bundleContext;
    MyServiceTrackerCustomizer(BundleContext bundleContext) {
        this.bundleContext = bundleContext;
    public MyWrapper addedService(
        ServiceReference<SomeService> serviceReference) {
        // Determine if the service is one that's interesting to you.
        // The return type of this method is the `tracked` type. Its type 
        // is what is returned from `getService*` methods; useful for wrapping 
        // the service with your own type (e.g., MyWrapper).
        if (isInteresting(serviceReference)) {
            MyWrapper myWrapper = new MyWrapper(
                serviceReference, bundleContext.getService());
            // trigger the logic that requires the available service(s)
            return myWrapper;
        // If the return is null, the tracker is effectively ignoring any further
        // events for the service reference
        return null;

    public void modifiedService(
        ServiceReference<SomeService> serviceReference, MyWrapper myWrapper) {
        // handle the modified service

    public void removedService(
        ServiceReference<SomeService> serviceReference, MyWrapper myWrapper) {

        // finally, trigger logic when the service is going away


Register the ServiceTrackerCustomizer by passing it as the ServiceTracker constructor’s third parameter.

ServiceTrackerCustomizer<SomeService, MyWrapper> serviceTrackerCustomizer =
    new MyServiceTrackerCustomizer();

ServiceTracker<SomeService, MyWrapper> serviceTracker = 
    new ServiceTracker<>(
    	bundleContext, SomeService.class, serviceTrackerCustomizer);

Using service trackers requires producing some boilerplate code, but now you can look up services in the service registry, even if your plugins can’t take advantage of the Declarative Services component model.

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