Colin Decker edited this page Oct 17, 2017 · 5 revisions


The Guava Service interface represents an object with an operational state, with methods to start and stop. For example, webservers, RPC servers, and timers can implement the Service interface. Managing the state of services like these, which require proper startup and shutdown management, can be nontrivial, especially if multiple threads or scheduling is involved. Guava provides some skeletons to manage the state logic and synchronization details for you.

Using a Service

The normal lifecycle of a Service is

A stopped service may not be restarted. If the service fails where starting, running, or stopping, it goes into state Service.State.FAILED.

A service can be started asynchronously using startAsync() if the service is NEW. So you should structure your application to have a unique place where each service is started.

Stopping the service is analogous, using the asynchronous stopAsync() method. But unlike startAsync(), it is safe to call this method multiple times. This is to make it possible to handle races that may occur when shutting down services.

Service also provides several methods to wait for service transitions to complete.

  • asynchronously using addListener(). addListener() allows you to add a Service.Listener that will be invoked on every state transition of the service. N.B. if a service is not NEW when the listener is added, then any state transitions that have already occurred will not be replayed on the listener.
  • synchronously using awaitRunning(). This is uninterruptible, throws no checked exceptions, and returns once the service has finished starting. If the service fails to start, this throws an IllegalStateException. Similarly, awaitTerminated() waits for the service to reach a terminal state (TERMINATED or FAILED). Both methods also have overloads that allow timeouts to be specified.

The Service interface is subtle and complicated. We do not recommend implementing it directly. Instead please use one of the abstract base classes in guava as the base for your implementation. Each base class supports a specific threading model.



The AbstractIdleService skeleton implements a Service which does not need to perform any action while in the "running" state -- and therefore does not need a thread while running -- but has startup and shutdown actions to perform. Implementing such a service is as easy as extending AbstractIdleService and implementing the startUp() and shutDown() methods.

protected void startUp() {
  servlets.add(new GcStatsServlet());
protected void shutDown() {}

Note that any queries to the GcStatsServlet already have a thread to run in. We don't need this service to perform any operations on its own while the service is running.


An AbstractExecutionThreadService performs startup, running, and shutdown actions in a single thread. You must override the run() method, and it must respond to stop requests. For example, you might perform actions in a work loop:

public void run() {
  while (isRunning()) {
    // perform a unit of work

Alternately, you may override in any way that causes run() to return.

Overriding startUp() and shutDown() is optional, but the service state will be managed for you.

protected void startUp() {
  dispatcher.listenForConnections(port, queue);
protected void run() {
  Connection connection;
  while ((connection = queue.take() != POISON)) {
protected void triggerShutdown() {

Note that start() calls your startUp() method, creates a thread for you, and invokes run() in that thread. stop() calls triggerShutdown() and waits for the thread to die.


An AbstractScheduledService performs some periodic task while running. Subclasses implement runOneIteration() to specify one iteration of the task, as well as the familiar startUp and shutDown() methods.

To describe the execution schedule, you must implement the scheduler() method. Typically, you will use one of the provided schedules from AbstractScheduledService.Scheduler, either newFixedRateSchedule(initialDelay, delay, TimeUnit) or newFixedDelaySchedule(initialDelay, delay, TimeUnit), corresponding to the familiar methods in ScheduledExecutorService. Custom schedules can be implemented using CustomScheduler; see the Javadoc for details.


When you need to do your own manual thread management, override AbstractService directly. Typically, you should be well served by one of the above implementations, but implementing AbstractService is recommended when, for example, you are modeling something that provides its own threading semantics as a Service, you have your own specific threading requirements.

To implement AbstractService you must implement 2 methods.

  • doStart(): doStart() is called directly by the first call to startAsync(), your doStart() method should perform all initialization and then eventually call notifyStarted() if start up succeeded or notifyFailed() if start up failed.
  • doStop(): doStop() is called directly by the first call to stopAsync(), your doStop() method should shut down your service and then eventually call notifyStopped() if shutdown succeeded or notifyFailed() if shutdown failed.

Your doStart and doStop, methods should be fast. If you need to do expensive initialization, such as reading files, opening network connections, or any operation that might block, you should consider moving that work to another thread.

Using ServiceManager

In addition to the Service skeleton implementations, Guava provides a ServiceManager class that makes certain operations involving multiple Service implementations easier. Create a new ServiceManager with a collection of Services. Then you can manage them:

Or inspect them:

  • isHealthy() returns true if all services are RUNNING.
  • servicesByState() returns a consistent snapshot of all the services indexed by their state.
  • startupTimes() returns a map from Service under management to how long it took for that service to start in milliseconds. The returned map is guaranteed to be ordered by startup time.

While it is recommended that service lifecycles be managed via ServiceManager, state transitions initiated via other mechanisms do not impact the correctness of its methods. For example, if the services are started by some mechanism besides startAsync(), the listeners will be invoked when appropriate and awaitHealthy() will still work as expected. The only requirement that ServiceManager enforces is that all Services must be NEW when ServiceManager is constructed.

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