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The Foundation of an OSGi-Based Application: Design and Bundles

  • March 10, 2010
  • By Manish Malhotra, Prasad Siva Sai Choutupalli
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The Design of the User Login Solution

The architecture for the user login solution is composed of two layers, Layer1 and Layer2 (see Figure 1). Each layer contains a bundle/component. One bundle comprises the UI part (UserLoginUI) and the other provides the required services (UserLoginServices) for the solution.

Figure 1. Architecture for User Login Solution:
The architecture for the user login solution is composed of two layers.

Services are consumed by the UI bundle and can be directly consumed by the client bundles as well. The service bundle accesses a security and user authentication system like LDAP, which is outside the OSGi container and abstracted from the service consumer. (The details of these bundles are explained in the next section.)

Before continuing with the User Login solution, it is worth discussing how you can use OSGi technology for SOA-based architecture and design. SOA requires many features, including packaged services, loose coupling, and flexibility. OSGi provides all these and many others with less complexity than other SOA technologies. In fact, OSGi provides SOA features in a bundle composed of only a JAR file, which is deployed in an OSGi container.

So with OSGi, you don't need a separate container specification for SOA-based applications the way you do with SOAP. OSGi's versioning services, which update services dynamically using the OSGi packaging model, also give you flexibility.

Now, returning to the User Login solution, the diagram in Figure 2 shows a component-based design for the application.

Figure 2. Component-Based Design:
Here is a component-based design for the User Login application.

The Bundles of the User Login Solution

This section details the bundles Tim's team will use for their login solution: UserLoginServices and UserLoginUI.

UserLoginServices Bundle

The UserLoginServices bundle is a non-UI bundle of the OSGi container that acts as a service provider bundle/component for this reusable solution. Tim decided to make this bundle a separate component from the UserAdminUI bundle for two reasons:

  1. To reduce the size of the UserAdminUI bundle – because the responsibility of this bundle is to provide user login features to other bundles and abstract the validation part
  2. To factor out services in a separate bundle from the UI bundle – this makes the bundle a reusable component for other bundles, as well as providing an SOA flavor to this solution (which is required for validation and caching)

These are the services listed in the UserLoginServices bundle:

  • IValidateService: This service validates the user credentials (username and password) with a user management system such as LDAP.
  • IContextDataService: This user cache service caches the user credentials in JVM memory. Single sign-on solutions work by using this service in conjunction with IValidateService. After validation, the client layer should call this service to persist the user credential for that particular session.

Because the client API of IValidateService is coupled only with the interface, Tim is free to modify the implementation of the authentication algorithm any time during the software development lifecycle (SDLC) without affecting the client code or even interrupting the running client code.

As for IContextDataService, Tim has designed it to expose two operations:

  • Saving the user credential in local cache
  • Getting the user credential from local cache

Tim's use of cache service for user management is similar to user management using the HttpSession web application. In a web application, whenever a valid user logs in, the system normally maintains the user's credentials in an HttpSession object that is available across application layers and across requests for that application. In the same way, Tim's User Login solution will save user credentials for a valid user (authenticated by IValidatedService) using IContextDataService in the local cache, which can be used by all the bundles in that Eclipse instance. The scope of this ContextData (that is userCredential) after storing in IContextDataService will become global to all the client bundles who have imported and used CommonUserServices bundles.

UserLoginUI Bundle

The UserLoginUI bundle provides the UI classes to cater the user login requirements for three different use cases. It also delegates validation and caching requests to the UserLoginService bundle.

These are the main UI abstractions for Tim's User Login solution:

  • Login Screen: When the user starts the client application or launches his/her Eclipse IDE, this bundle pops up a login screen to input the login credentials. The user can set credentials or resume without providing data. The Splash Handler Eclipse plug-in extension point is required for this.
  • Preference Page: The user can change credentials after he or she has logged in using the splash screen property or enter them anew if the user has not done so previously.
  • Login Popup screen: If the user has not provided credentials, credentials will be required when the user tries to connect to network resources. For this scenario, the UI bundle has a class that helps in popping up a screen like the splash login screen to take username and password input from the user.

These are the Eclipse plug-in extension points that Tim uses in the UserLoginUI bundle in more detail:

  • Splash Handler: Splash is a concept that you use for the startup of an application. This startup work could be a login, a progress bar for the bootstrapping process, and so on. Eclipse provides Splash Handler as a way to manage the custom behavior of the splash screens that appear at the startup of the Eclipse IDE.
  • Preference Page: Eclipse Workbench has a general preference page that you use for preference settings. Using the Preference Page extension point allows you to manage this preferences dialog.

Ready to Build

With these components in place within the previously discussed architecture, Tim's team is ready to develop their User Login solution based on the Eclipse Equinox implementation of OSGi and validation against the StarTrek's LDAP or databases.

In an upcoming follow-up to this article, we will walk through the steps for developing such a login solution for OSGi.

Tags: SOA, Eclipse, OSGi, Equinox

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