Apache Jackrabbit : ApacheSling SlingConfiguration

Configuration Support


Configuration in Sling is aligned with respective support by the OSGi specification:

  • Framework and Java system properties are available through the BundleContext.getProperty(String) method. These properties are provided in Sling through the Sling launcher.
  • Bundle Header values are available through the Bundle.getHeaders() and Bundle.getHeaders(String) methods. These header values are set by the bundle developer in the META-INF/MANIFEST.MF file. In fact, all main manifest attributes are available through these methods.
  • Components managed by the Service Component Runtime and declared in component descriptor files listed in the Service-Component manifest header access configuration properties through the ComponentContext.getProperties() method. These properties have three sources:
    1. Configuration specified specifically for factory components
    2. Properties retrieved from the Configuration Admin Service
    3. Properties set in the component descriptor
  • Configuration properties provided to ManagedService and ManagedServiceFactory instances by the Configuration Admin Service.

For the discussion to follow we differentiate between intial configuration provided by Framework and system properties and managed configuration provided by the Configuration Admin Service.

Components managed by the Service Component Runtime are generally configured (as listed above) through the descriptor properties and configuration set by Configuration Admin Service configuration. The descriptor property values may be seen as configuration default values set by the component developer, which may be overwritten by user configuration through the Configuration Admin Service. Components may but are not required to make use of Framework properties by accessing the BundleContext through the ComponentContext given to the activate(ComponentContext) method of the component.

Initial Configuration

The lifecycle of the OSGi framework implemented by an instance of the org.apache.felix.framework.Felix class is managed by the Sling launcher class org.apache.sling.launcher.Sling. This class is used by the standalone main class (org.apache.sling.launcher.main.Main) and the Sling Servlet (org.apache.sling.launcher.servlet.SlingServlet) to control the lifecycle.

The Sling launcher is responsible to provide the Framework properties to the OSGi framework. The properties are prepared as a java.util.Properties instance as follows (later steps may overwrite properties defined in earlier steps) :

  1. Load core properties from the embedded sling.properties file.
  2. Resolve any property file inclusions. This is mainly used to resolve the correct JRE package definitions for the JRE version used.
  3. Overwrite with any properties provided by the main class or the Sling Servlet.
  4. Make sure the sling.home property is set defining a sensible default value if missing
    1. Load the contents of the {${sling.home}/sling.properties} file
    1. Overwrite properties with Java system properties. This step only considers system properties of the same names as properties already existing. That is, the system properties are not just copied into the properties here. Additionally this step my be omitted if the sling.ignoreSystemProperties property is set to true.
    1. Resolve any property file inclusions. This may be used to provide more configurability depending on the integration.
    1. Handle OSGi boot delegation support (see below).
    1. Resolve property references of the form ${propName}
  5. For each property value starting with ontext:/ do the following, assuming the value to be an URL with scheme context::
  • Copy the application resource to ${sling.home} preserving the URL path unless such a file already exists.
  • Replace the property value with the path to the newly created file. The path has the form {${sling.home}/relpath}.
    1. Store the properties as {${sling.home}/sling.properties} to be re-used on next startup
    1. Setup Bundle auto installation for the Felix Framework

Using file system copies of the initial configuration and referred files, it is easy to modify this configuration without the need to unpack and repackage the web application archive.

The only property really required is actually the sling.home property, which defines the file system location where runtime files will be placed. The default if this property is missing will be sling in the current working directory as defined the user.dir system property.

Standalone Application

When launching Sling as a standalone application the sling-app.jar file is used. This is an executable JAR File. The sling.properties file as well as the sling_install.properties and JRE specific properties files are located at the root of the JAR file hierarchy.

The standalone application currently sets properties for the third step of the configuration setup to ensure the HTTP Servlet integration is using the Apache Felix http.jetty bundle. Additionally system properties may be set using the -D command line switch of the Java binary.

In addition the following command line arguments are accepted:


Sling property


-l loglevel


The initial loglevel (0..4, FATAL, ERROR, WARN, INFO, DEBUG)

-f logfile


The log file, "-" for stdout

-c slinghome


the sling context directory

-a address

the interfact to bind to (use for any) (not supported yet)

-p port


the port to listen to (default 8080)


Prints a simple usage message and exits.

The standalone application exits with status code 0 (zero) if Sling terminates normally, that is if the OSGi framework is stopped or if just the usage note has been displayed. If any error occurrs during command line parsing, the cause is printed to the error output and the application exists with status code 1 (one). If the OSGi framework fails to start, the cause is printed to the error output and the application exists with status code 2.

Web Application

When launching Sling as a web application using the sling-servlet.war or any derived Web Application archive file, the sling.properties file is located in the WEB-INF folder along with the sling_install.properties and JRE specific properties files.

The Sling Servlet uses the Servlet Context and Servlet init-param configurations to prepare the properties for the third step of the configuration setup.

If the OSGi framework fails to startup for any reason a javax.servlet.UnavailableException.

Property File Inclusions

Twice in the configuration setup (second and seventh step) any property file inclusions will be handled. Property files may be included by defining one or more properties containing a comma-separated list of properties files to include. Property file inclusion looks at the sling.include property and any other property whose prefix is sling.include.. When such properties exist, the files listed in those properties are included.

The order of handling the property file inclusion properties is defined as their natural sort order. So the properties of the files listed in the sling.include.first property will be loaded before the files listed in the sling.include.second but after the files listed in the sling.include.a property.

Any file which does not exist is silently ignored.

The names of the files are resolved as follows:

1. If a resource exists at the same location as the initial sling.properties file packaged with the application, that resource is used
1. If the name is a relative file name, it is looked for in the sling.home directory
1. If the name is an absolute file name, it is used as is


The packaged sling.properties file contains the following properties file inclusion setting:

sling.include.jre = jre-${java.specification.version}.properties

This is used to include the JRE package list to be made visible inside the OSGi framework.

OSGi Boot Delegation Support

Some packages may have to be shared between bundles in an OSGi framework and the rest of Java VM in which the framework has been launched. This is especially true for OSGi framework instances launched in embedding such as Servlet Containers. In the case of a Sling Application accessing a JCR Repository launched in a different Web Application, this mainly concerns an API packages as well as the JNDI Initial Factory package(s).

To cope with this sharing issue, the OSGi core specification defined two properties, which may list packages to be used from the environment:


This property lists package names which are added to the list of exported packages of the system bundle of the OSGi framework. These packages are used in the resolution process just as any package listed in an Export-Package bundle manifest header.


This property lists packages, which are always used from the environment. As such, these packages will never be looked up in package wirings as are packages imported by listing them in the Import-Package bundle manifest header.

Sometimes, especially in the Servlet Container case, it is important to use the shared classes from the container and not resolve using standard OSGi resolution. In such cases, the packages of these shared classes must be listed in the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property. Sling contains a mechanism to extend the default setting of the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property by adding properties prefixed with sling.bootdelegation.. The value of each of these prefixed properties is conditionally appended to the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property. Conditionally means, that the property name may contain the fully qualified name of a class, which is checked to see whether to add the property value or not.


sling.bootdelegation.simple = com.some.package

This setting unconditionally adds the com.some.package package to the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property

sling.bootdelegation.class.com.some.other.Main = com.some.other

This setting checks whether the com.some.other.Main package is known. If so, the com.some.other package is added to the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property. Otherwise the com.some.other package is not added - and therefore must be exported by a bundle if required for use inside the framework.

Note Even though packages listed in the org.osgi.framework.bootdelegation property will always be loaded from the environment, any bundles using these packages must still import them (through Import-Package or DynamicImport-Package) and the bundles must resolve for being usable.

Recommendations for property names

The following system property names are reserved:

  • Names starting with org.osgi. are reserved for OSGi defined Framework properties
  • Names starting with org.apache.felix. are reserved for the Felix Framework
  • Names starting with {sling. are reserved for Sling

To prevent property name collisions, I suggest the following convention:

  • Use fully qualified property names for initial configuration through Framework properties
  • Use unqualified property names for configuration through the Configuration Admin Service

Well Known Properties

The following table is a collection of well known property names from different parts of Project Sling.




Defines the file system location where Project Sling will write copies of the initial configuration. This property should also be used to define other local file system locations such as the directory to use for the Apache Felix Bundle Cache ({${sling.home}/felix} by default). If this property is not set it defaults to {${user.dir}/sling}.


Contains the Sling directory set in the sling.home property as a valid URL. This property may be used in situations where the Sling directory is required as an URL. This property is automatically set by the Sling application and may not be modified by configuration files.


Whether to overwrite any configuration properties with Java system properties or not. By default this property is set to true by the Sling Servlet but not set by the Sling main class. The reason to set this by default in the Sling Servlet is to not induce values from the environment, which may not be appropriate in the Web Application case.


A comma-separated list of OSGi Bundle Repository URLs. See Important Properties on the page Initial Provisioning and Startup.


A comma-separated list of start level numbers. See Important Properties on the page Initial Provisioning and Startup.


A comma-separated list of bundle specifications. See Important Properties on the page Initial Provisioning and Startup.


Properties providing initial configuration to the Sling Log Service. See Important Properties on the page Initial Provisioning and Startup.

Configuration Admin Service

Configuration of the system entities, such as services and components, by the system administrator is supported the Configuration Admin Service. The Configuration Admin Service acts as the center for the management of the configuration data, to which GUI-based tools will connect to retrieve and update configuration data. The Configuration Admin Service is responsible for persisting the configuration data and for providing configuration consumers with the configuration data. Specifically services registered with the ManagedService or ManagedServiceFactory interfaces are updated with the configuration upon updated. The Service Component Runtime on the other hand recognizes updated configuration and provides it to the managed components as defined in the OSGi Declarative Services Specification.

By default the Configuration Admin Service is installed when Sling is started for the first time. This service is used by the Service Component Runtime launching the OSGi components declared in the bundles with configuration values. The Sling Management Console provides a simple GUI to manage these configuration elements on the Configuration page.

For more information on the Configuration Admin Service refer to the OSGi Configuration Admin Service Specification in the OSGi Service Platform Service Compendium book.