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Dagger2 example: Using `@nAmed("...") String` with a runtime configuration `<String, String>` map.
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src/main/java/demo First full ExampleInterface -> Example to narrow source fo… Feb 8, 2018


Abstract: This project demonstrates how to use @Named("...") String with a runtime configuration <String, String> map. This allows Dagger to inject configuration strings determined at runtime.

Note: This builds on which explains the minimal amount of work needed to have Dagger2 work. This includes not being able to compile and/or run the project.

Why use @Named("...") String?

Java has traditionally favored configuration in the form of key-value string pairs, but the problem is that communication between the place these values are made available to the program and the places the values are actually needed is not easily done in a transparent and secure way.

This project demonstrates how to get Dagger to inject configuration values like any other dependency, even when these are provided at runtime.

The reason @Named is necessary is because most Java dependency injection frameworks works on classes. The class name is used to determine what instance should be injected. This works well for e.g. javax.sql.DataSource if you just want access to the backend database, but as all configuration strings are of type String an additional qualifier is needed. In JSR-330 this is javax.inject.Named which takes a string argument which in this scenario is the configuration key. So in other words, given the key Dagger injects the value. The sweet spot for these are as arguments to providers in Dagger modules!

    Example provideExample(@Named(FIRSTNAME) String firstName, @Named(LASTNAME) String lastName) {
        return () -> "Name: " + firstName + " " + lastName;

This provider needs two configuration strings, and as with all other dependencies they are "just there" (seen from our point of view).

What is needed?

Dagger does its magic at compilation time. Hence quite a bit of elbow grease is generally needed to give the compiler what it needs.

The new parts needed:

  • A key-value map that can be present itself to Dagger at runtime.
  • A @Named(X) String provideX(map) method for each configuration key.

Dagger works recursively. If a given action - like invoking a method or calling a constructor - requires parameters, then the creation of these are considered new actions and the process repeats.

Going through

There is a lot of moving parts here. To make it easier to read, everything is in which is less than a 100 characters wide and less than 66 lines long so it can be printed on a single piece of paper.

  • interface Example
  • class Constants
  • class ConfigurationMap
  • class ExampleModule
  • interface Main.ExampleComponent
  • class Main

interface Example

This is what our code wants to work with. The whole reason for the rest is to get an instance of this interface for further processing.

interface Example { // We need an instance of _this_ interface!
    String getName();

class Constants

class Constants {
    public static final String FIRSTNAME = "firstname";
    public static final String LASTNAME = "lastname";

We could just use "firstname"/"lastname" instead but using a constant gives all the usual help from the compiler and IDE's.

class ConfigurationMap

In order for Dagger to consider a provider method, it must be inside a class annotated with @Module. As of Java 8 this cannot be done using lambda expressions, so a pragmatic simple solution is to make the map its own module providing itself:

class ConfigurationMap extends java.util.TreeMap<String, String> {
    public ConfigurationMap getConfigurationMap() {
        return this;

class ExampleModule

Dagger can instantiate certain objects on its own, but needs help for the rest in form of methods annotated with @dagger.Provider methods placed inside a class annotated with @dagger.Module known to it. The main Dagger module here is ExampleModule.

Each configuration key to be used in the application must have its own provider method, and the key should be declared as a string constant. This is quite tedious to write in the first place, but has the following advantages (none of which are used here to save space but would be in production code):

  • Each string constant can have javadoc explaining the semantics of that parameter making it very easy to create documentation. Just have them in the same class, and link to the generated javadoc page.
  • Each provider can have its own individual "key not in map" handling. As this is not common code, it tends to be very simple. A "fail immediately if not present" has shown to work well for our applications, and is what is implemented here. Another could be to provide a default value.
  • The name of the provider can reflect on its purpose. Dagger does not care, so there is no restrictions on this. Typically we end up with provideFirstName for a provider for "firstname".
  • Each provider can take exactly the arguments it needs. Typically this is a ConfigurationMap, which is then resolved to the actual map.
  • Dagger only invokes providers if needed, so only those key-value pairs needed, must be in the map.

So provideExample (which constructs the Example instance we ask Dagger to create) takes two arguments which Dagger in turn fulfills by invoking the appropriate providers which in turn invoke the provider inside the ConfigurationMap instance passed in to the builder at run time. The lambda expression is just short hand for creating Example as it is a single method interface.

class ExampleModule { // What help does Dagger need?
    Example provideExample(@Named(FIRSTNAME) String firstName, @Named(LASTNAME) String lastName) {
        return () -> "Name: " + firstName + " " + lastName;

    String provideFirstName(ConfigurationMap map) {
        return java.util.Objects.requireNonNull(map.get(FIRSTNAME), FIRSTNAME + " not set");

    String provideLastName(ConfigurationMap map) {
        return java.util.Objects.requireNonNull(map.get(LASTNAME), LASTNAME + " not set");

Also it is very hard to be tempted to write generic code which then in turn ends up needing configuration. All in all, this mean that providers tend to be small and simple.

The providers here throw a null pointer exception with the text "X not set" if X is not present in the configuration map. This is probably the easiest way to fail fast. In a production setting a custom exception named ConfigurationKeyException might be more telling. Any other appropriate behavior could be placed here.

interface Main.ExampleComponent

A Dagger Component is the starting point for Dagger. It lists the methods that Dagger is to implement returning injected objectes, and it lists the modules Dagger is to use in the @Component annotation.

Here we have two modules, namely the ExampleModule (which has the provider for Example and the two configuration key-value pairs) and ConfigurationMap (which has the provider for itself). If any provider fails to be found by javac double check that the method is annotated with @Provider and the module is annotated with @Module as well as listed in the @Component annotation of the component.

@dagger.Component(modules = {ExampleModule.class, ConfigurationMap.class})
interface ExampleComponent { // What do we need Dagger to build for us?
    Example example();

The Dagger compiler integration ensures that several source files are written as part of the compilation, which implement the necessary functionality. All the wiring together happens during the compilation, so the generated sources can be very fast. The important entry points are the sources corresponding to the components. In this project that is DaggerMain_ExampleComponent. If there are several components there will be several entry points.

class Main

The main method creates a configuration map in code, passes it to the builder returned by the automatically generated DaggerMain_ExampleComponent.builder() to complete its configuration so build() can return a fully functional ExampleComponent.

public class Main {
// ...
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        ConfigurationMap map = new ConfigurationMap();
        map.put("firstname", "Edward");
        map.put("lastname", "Snowden");
        // If compilation fails, see
        ExampleComponent daggerGeneratedComponent =

        Example example = daggerGeneratedComponent.example();

It is now simple to invoke the example() method in the ExampleComponent instance given to use by Dagger, to have an Example object where getName() returns "Edward Snowden".

The configuration map could come from any source. We have found that for command line applications (where we use Dagger) a combination of having a property filename with additional "key=value" pairs on the command line works well. Depending on the application it might also be relevant to load some values from system properties and environment variables.

Dagger is unfortunately not well suited for web applications. We have done some work with using context init parameters instead in Tomcat and Jetty in addition to CDI in TomEE and Glassfish which works relatively well.


This project demonstrates that a Dagger command line application can have a key-value configuration map provided at runtime.

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