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Habitat4J intends to simplify configuration management in a multiple server, multiple application environment. However, it is designed to be easy to use -- even in a single application on a single server.

Habitat4J provides property management based on a two component model.
The first component, called the "Server Identity," provides a system-wide context for which applications load their properties. The second component, called the "Property List," provides an application-wide property infrastructure that will load entries based on information in the Server Identity component.

Feature Summary

  • XML-based configuration
  • Property loading from filesystem or classpath resource
  • Ability to set System and Security properties
  • Name/value pairs, arrays, hashes, Javabean, Javabean array, and Javabean hash Property Values
  • Optional property reloading at runtime - explicitly, on-the-fly, or per time interval
  • Optional XSD Validation
  • Optional Encoded and/or Encrypted Property Values
  • Optional support for log4j

Uses for Habitat4J include:

  • Any environment running multiple applications
  • Staging, unit testing, and production server environments
  • Server farm environments


Habitat4J is an XML-based property file management system for Java. It relies on a two component model:

  • ServerIdentity Component a.k.a. XML-based "ServerIdentity File"

    • This file defines a server-wide set of parameters that all applications residing on that server will utilize to load a subset of properties in the PropertyList (see below).
  • PropertyList Component(s) a.k.a. XML-based "PropertyList File(s)"

    • This file contains Property values that are organized by context. Contexts will be loaded depending on the ServerIdentity.

Detailed Overview

Habitat4J provides the following for your application:

  • The following Property types are supported:

    • Standard Name/Value Pair String Properties
    • String Array Properties (list of Strings associated with a property name)
    • String Hash Properties (hash of Strings associated with a property name, with entries that can be looked up by an additional key)
    • Javabean Properties (reuse your own or create new)
    • Javabean Array Properties (list of Javabeans associated with a property name)
    • Javabean Hash Properties (hash of Javabeans associated with a proeprty name, with entries that can be looked up by an additional key)
    • System Properties
    • Security Properties
  • The option is available to decode and/or decrypt values (in any of the above Property types). Decoder and Decryptor classes are not provided by Habitat4J, but an interface is given to write your own implementations that utilize popular or proprietary encoding and encryption mechanisms. One sample Decoder and one sample Decryptor class is provided with the Habitat4J JUnit tests.

  • The option is available to have all ServerIdentity and PropertyList files validated against XSD schemas.

  • The option to safely reload property files based on changing timestamps, either by explicitly telling Habitat4J to check for a new timestamp, or automatically on-the-fly, or after an interval of time has passed.

Code Overview

  • Straight-forward SAX-based parsing implementation.

  • Support for System.out/System.err and Log4J-based logging.

  • An abstract class implementation so your application can customize Habitat4J.

  • The Habitat4JBootstrapServlet, available in the Habitat4JWeb distribution, which provides an implementation for initializing or "boostrapping" Habitat4J for a J2EE web application.


  • The habitat4j implementations depend on the following 3rd-party JARs:

    • xerces XML API (commonly called xml-apis.jar) xerces Implementation (commonly called xercesImpl.jar) SAX Implementation (typically included with xerces) log4j (optional)
  • In addition, the habitat4j-x.y.z-junit.jar also depends on the following 3rd-party JAR:

    • junit
  • The habitat4jweb-x.y.z.jar included with the Habitat4J distributions depends on an implementation of javax.servlet.*, which is typically included in a Servlet or J2EE container implementation.