Java Implementation of Flow-Based Programming (FBP)
Java Other
Latest commit 0bace8f Dec 29, 2016 Paul Morrison Fixed misleading comment on close bracket!


Java Implementation of "Classical" Flow-Based Programming (FBP)


General web site for "classical" FBP:

Latest release of JavaFBP: javafbp-4.1.0 (Package qualifier changed from jpmorrsn to jpaulmorrison)

In computer programming, flow-based programming (FBP) is a programming paradigm that defines applications as networks of "black box" processes, which exchange data across predefined connections by message passing, where the connections are specified externally to the processes. These black box processes can be reconnected endlessly to form different applications without having to be changed internally. FBP is thus naturally component-oriented.

FBP is a particular form of dataflow programming based on bounded buffers, information packets with defined lifetimes, named ports, and separate definition of connections.

JavaFBP Syntax and Component API:

Promoted to Maven central - do .

Javadoc can also be browsed at (as of v3.0.8)


There is also a small GitHub project called javafbp-websockets, which contains two generalized components supporting WebSockets ( ), and a simple test component and network - it can be found at .


The project requires Gradle for building (tested with version 2.0). You can download the corresponding package from the following URL:

Windows and Linux users should follow the installation instructions on the Maven website.

OSX users (using Brew, can install Maven by executing the following command:

brew install gradle

Eclipse IDE Integration

You can generate Eclipse project using the following mvn command:

gradle eclipse

If you already created an Eclipse project you can run:

gradle cleanEclipse Eclipse

You need to install a Gradle plugin for Eclipse as explained here: Then import a generated project in Eclipse, right (ctrl for OSX) click on the project in Eclipse -> Configure -> Convert to Gradle Project. After the conversion you can Right (ctrl for OSX) click on the project -> Gradle -> Task Quick Launcher and type build.

You may have to go to the project Properties and select Java Build Path/Source; remove whatever is there and select JavaFBP/src/main/java; then close Eclipse, and reopen it.

Building and/or running from command line

The latest jar file can simply be downloaded from the latest release, or it can be rebuilt , by running the following command:

gradle build

As a result a javafbp-x.x.x.jar file will be created in the build/libs directory. It will include the JavaFBP core (runtime) and all the examples from the source code (sub-package com.jpmorrsn.fbp.resourcekit.examples).

resourcekit is now in the hierarchy, as of version v4.0.1 .

For running any of the examples cd to your javafbp folder, and use the following command:

java -cp build/libs/javafbp-x.x.x.jar com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.resourcekit.examples.networks.<Class name of the network>

use jpaulmorrison if version is 4.1.0 or later.

For example:

java -cp build/libs/javafbp-x.x.x.jar com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.resourcekit.examples.networks.TestIPCounting

To run one of your own classes, add .; in front of build/, and make sure your current directory is set to the one containing the highest qualification level in the chosen package.

In *nix, replace the ; with :.

Building/viewing Component Attributes List

A function, JavaFBPCompAttrs, has been added to the JavaFBP GitHub project to build a list of the component attributes for any specified list of JavaFBP component packages. The bat file, JavaFBPCompAttrs.bat can be found in src/main/resources.

Mke sure you run gradle build to have the necessary JavaFBPCompAttrs.class file generated.

As delivered on GitHub, the bat file looks like this:

  javadoc -doclet com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.doclets.JavaFBPCompAttrs -docletpath target/classes -sourcepath src/main/java com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.core.components.misc com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.core.components.routing com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.core.components.swing com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.core.components.text

The directories to be scanned can be seen following -sourcepath and its operand - change to taste, in your copy!

To run the bat file, set your current directory to your javafbp folder. Then run src\main\resources\javafbpcompattrs.bat . The output will be found in C:\Temp\JavaFBPCompAttrs.html. Open with your favorite browser.

Not all JavaFBP component attributes have been filled in as yet, but these will be expanded as time allows.

Here is a sample section of the output (generated by JavaFBPCompAttrs). It is HTML, so the various headings actually have different font sizes.



value - "Writes a stream of packets to a socket"

value - "IN"

description - "Packets to be written"

type - java.lang.String.class

value - "PORT"

description - "Port name"

type - java.lang.String.class

value - "OUT"

optional - true

description - "Output port, if connected"

type - java.lang.String.class

Running a test

Here is a simple command-line test that can be run to test that everything is working.

In the project directory, enter

java -cp build/libs/javafbp-x.x.x.jar com.jpaulmorrison.fbp.resourcekit.examples.networks.MergeandSort

Here is a picture of MergeandSort, drawn using DrawFBP:


This network contains 4 processes:

  • 2 occurrences of GenerateTestData,
  • a Sort process - a very simple-minded Sort, which can only handle up to 9,999 information packets
  • a text display component, which invokes Java Swing to display the sorted data in a scroll pane.

The outputs of the two GenerateTestData processes are merged on a "first come, first served" basis. During the run you should see a scroll pane with the sorted data scrolling down.

At the end of the run, you should see:

Run complete.  Time: seconds
Counts: C: 150, D: 153, S: 300, R (non-null): 304, DO: 0

where the counts are respectively: creates, normal drops, sends, non-null receives, and drops done by "drop oldest".


Care must be taken if combining LoadBalance (with substreams) and SubstreamSensitiveMerge in a divergent-convergent pattern - this pattern is one of the warning signals for deadlocks anyway. The problem is described in more detail under

Tracing and other options

To trace JavaFBP services and/or lock usage, set the appropriate parameter(s) in JavaFBPProperties.xml in the user directory to true:

  • tracing
  • tracelocks


<?xml version="1.0"?> 

These traces will appear in the project directory (in GitHub if running Eclipse) under the name xxxx-fulltrace.txt, where xxxx is the name of the network being run. Subnets have their own trace output files.

Two other options are also supported in the properties file:

  • deadlocktest (defaults to true, so you might set it to false if debugging)
  • forceconsole (used if immediate console output is required during debugging - normally, console output is sent to a file)