Thursday, May 26, 2016

From the Gradle to the Grave

After an annoying week in Classpath Hell, here are some things I've learned.

It all started with an upgrade to Elastic Search that was forced upon us (1.6 to 2.3.1). This caused all sorts of issues and a good deal of them to do with Guava. The Guava team have a very aggressive policy to deprecation: "Deprecated non-beta APIs will be removed two years after the release in which they are first deprecated. You must fix your references before this time. If you don't, any manner of breakage could result (you are not guaranteed a compilation error)." Compare that to the JDK which has never deleted any deprecated code.

Well, this is fine. I don't directly use Guava. Unfortunately, both ES and HBase do. Only my HBase (0.98.18-hadoop2) pulls in Guava version 12.0.1 as a transitive dependency and my Elastic Search (2.3.1) pulls in Guava 18.0. This leads to:

 at org.elasticsearch.threadpool.ThreadPool.<clinit>(

when clearly the method existed in my IDE.

The solution was to use shading. Shading not only relocates the contentious classes but updates all the call sites in the artefact. In Maven you use Shade plugin. Unfortunately, I'm using Gradle (which annoys me because I can't control the order of dependencies like I can in Maven). In Gradle you use Gradle Shadow where your build.gradle looks something like:

  apply plugin: 'com.github.johnrengelman.shadow'
  shadowJar {
    // this moves the classes and the reference to the classes
    relocate '', ''

    // where this is to address another shadowing problem (see here)
    zip64 true
    transform(ServiceFileTransformer) {
        path = 'META-INF/spring*'

NOTE! You must delete the uber jar before running this. I was confused for an hour or more wondering why it appeared to not be working. When I cleaned the project, the problem went away.

Checking that the classes had been renamed in the artefact was simple, checking the call sites a little harder. To make sure the ElasticSearch call site has been changed, I copy the offending class out of the JAR and run:

$ javap -p org/elasticsearch/threadpool/ThreadPool.class | grep google
private volatile<java.lang.String, org.elasticsearch.threadpool.ThreadPool$ExecutorHolder> executors;
private final<java.lang.String, org.elasticsearch.common.settings.Settings> defaultExecutorTypeSettings;

Yup, looks good.

All of this has wasted me a few days that could have been better spent analysing Big Data problems. Which made me think that the Paul Phillips talk ("We're doing it all wrong") that I watched at the weekend is only a small part of the story we face as developers. It's lovely to have a language that allows code to be "obviously without defects rather than without obvious defects" but most of my unproductive time seems to be handing builds and classpaths.

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