Monday, August 1, 2005

AspectJ 5 load time weaving with Java 1.3 using ... AspectWerkz

(imported from, read comments there)

**** Introduction

As development of AspectJ 5 and the merger with AspectWerkz making good progress, several users have started to wonder how the load time weaving under Java 1.3 / 1.4 VM be enabled.

Despite the name, AspectJ 5 is not at all tied to Java 5. I have already explained in this post how to write plain Java aspects using JavaDoc annotation and Backport175.

In this post I 'll explain how to enable load time weaving for Java 1.3/1.4 for AspectJ... by using AspectWerkz ! ie that AspectJ will sit on top of the very low level layer of AspectWerkz.

**** Some background

In AspectWerkz we enable load time weaving to happen thru a wide range of options that user can choose:

  • Java 5 agent

  • JRockit specific integration with JRockit agent

  • bootclasspath family

  • hotswap family

I have integrated the most important ones in the AspectJ 5 code base already - ie the first two - but some of them won't be integrated - hence this post.

When running Java 5 or JRockit (java 1.3 / 1.4 / 1.5) you don't need to read further and can stick to what's provided out of the box in AspectJ 5. Else... continue reading.

The AspectWerkz low level layer named aspectwerkz-core is actually a generic load time weaving layer. It comes with one interface that one has to implement - very similar to the JSR-163 instrumentation agent: the org.codehaus.aspectwerkz.hook.ClassPreProcessor.

This core layer comes with a set of tools that allows to turn this one on into the environment. The most easiest to use is what we called the "prepared bootclasspath" where you basically run a little script that will patch the java.lang.ClassLoader to hook in the agent, and will give you back a jar. This jar file can then be used first in the classpath when you start your JVM so that the agent gets called.

You can read more about all the options in the AspectWerkz doc here.

**** Running AspectJ by using AspectWerkz for load time weaving

I describe here the implementation of the agent, but you can use directly the one I ship with this post if you are not interested in the details. You can assume this one is LGPL, as AspectWerkz is.

The implementation of the ClassPreProcessor to use AspectJ on top of AspectWerkz core is straightforward and looks like that:

package org.aspectj.ext.ltw13;

public class ClassPreProcessorAdapter implements
// implements the AspectWerkz core interface
org.codehaus.aspectwerkz.hook.ClassPreProcessor {

* Concrete preprocessor we delegate to
* This one sits in org.aspectj.weaver.loadtime.*
private static ClassPreProcessor s_preProcessor;

static {
try {
s_preProcessor = new Aj();
} catch (Exception e) {
throw new ExceptionInInitializerError("could not initialize preprocessor due to: " + e.toString());

public void initialize() {

public byte[] preProcess(String className, byte[] bytes, ClassLoader classLoader) {
// skip bootCL
if (classLoader == null) {
return bytes;

// skip AJ weaver well know stuff to avoid circularity
if (className != null) {
String slashed = className.replace('.', '/');
if (slashed.startsWith("org/aspectj/weaver/")
|| slashed.startsWith("org/aspectj/bridge/")
|| slashed.startsWith("org/aspectj/util/")
|| slashed.startsWith("org/aspectj/apache/bcel")
|| slashed.startsWith("org/aspectj/lang/")
) {
//System.out.println("SKIP " + className);
return bytes;
// do the weaving using AspectJ weaver
return s_preProcessor.preProcess(className, bytes, classLoader);

By using the AspectWerkz Plug utility we generate our load time weaving enabled java.lang.ClassLoader in awaj-boot.jar (see AspectWerkz doc for other options, that might be more license friendly if you care). This can be done thru Ant:

The last step consists in starting the JVM with this one, passing in a specific option to say what is the ClassPreProcessor implementation we want to use (the default one beeing AspectWerkz).
Starting a sample with Ant will thus looks like this - the important details are int he jvmarg option


**** Sample project

I am attaching the complete source code, along with a sample Aspect in a zip.

This sample further use Backport175 so that the project is 100% Java 1.3 - without any of the AspectJ specific extra keyword to defines aspects that would disturb your regular javac compiler.

Off course, this load time weaving can be used for any kind of aspects, so adapt it for using AJC if you have some .aj files to compile.

Note: this zip does not include AspectWerkz jars, Backport175 jars, and AspectJ jars needed. You will have to get those and fix the Ant build.xml for your environment. See the build.xml file in the zip. (the sample is also refering to AspectWerkz 2.1RC1 - so change it to AspectWerkz 2.0 / sorry about those minor details).

It may also happen that you will need a SAX XML parser has Java 1.3 does not ships one. You may read more about that in the AspectWerkz FAQ for example
here (read "Does AspectWerkz support Java 1.3?"). This is not contained in the sample project neither.

Get AspectJ load time weaving on Java 1.3 enabled by AspectWerkz !

You will need AspectWerkz 2.0 for it. Get it there.

To run the sample, you will also need AspectJ and Backport and the Backport175 AspectJ extension. See build.xml on how to get those.