The JarRunner Class
Trail: Deployment
Lesson: Packaging Programs in JAR Files
Section: Using JAR-related APIs

The JarRunner Class

The JarRunner application is launched with a command of this form:

java JarRunner url [arguments]

In the previous section, we've seen how JarClassLoader is able to identify and load the main class of a JAR-bundled application from a given URL. To complete the JarRunner application, therefore, we need to be able to take a URL and any arguments from the command line, and pass them to an instance of JarClassLoader. These tasks belong to the JarRunner class, the entry point of the JarRunner application.

It begins by creating a object from the URL specified on the command line:

public static void main(String[] args) {
    if (args.length < 1) {
    URL url = null;
    try {
        url = new URL(args[0]);
    } catch (MalformedURLException e) {
        fatal("Invalid URL: " + args[0]);

If args.length < 1, that means no URL was specified on the command line, so a usage message is printed. If the first command-line argument is a good URL, a new URL object is created to represent it.

Next, JarRunner creates a new instance of JarClassLoader, passing to the constructor the URL that was specified on the command-line:

JarClassLoader cl = new JarClassLoader(url);

As we saw in the previous section, it's through JarClassLoader that JarRunner taps into the JAR-handling APIs.

The URL that's passed to the JarClassLoader constructor is the URL of the JAR-bundled application that you want to run. JarRunner next calls the class loader's getMainClassName method to identify the entry-point class for the application:

String name = null;
try {
    name = cl.getMainClassName();
} catch (IOException e) {
    System.err.println("I/O error while loading JAR file:");
if (name == null) {
    fatal("Specified jar file does not contain a 'Main-Class'" +
          " manifest attribute");

The key statement is highlighted in bold. The other statements are for error handling.

Once JarRunner has identified the application's entry-point class, only two steps remain: passing any arguments to the application and actually launching the application. JarRunner performs these steps with this code:

// Get arguments for the application
String[] newArgs = new String[args.length - 1];
System.arraycopy(args, 1, newArgs, 0, newArgs.length);
// Invoke application's main class
try {
    cl.invokeClass(name, newArgs);
} catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
    fatal("Class not found: " + name);
} catch (NoSuchMethodException e) {
    fatal("Class does not define a 'main' method: " + name);
} catch (InvocationTargetException e) {

Recall that the first command-line argument was the URL of the JAR-bundled application. Any arguments to be passed to that application are therefore in element 1 and beyond in the args array. JarRunner takes those elements, and creates a new array called newArgs to pass to the application (bold line above). JarRunner then passes the entry-point's class name and the new argument list to the invokeClass method of JarClassLoader. As we saw in the previous section, invokeClass will load the application's entry-point class, pass it any arguments, and launch the application.

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