Think of java properties deluxe
Java GAP
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Copyright Siemens AG, 2014

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 the "License"; you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


OmniProperties is a lightweight configuration utility with a flavor of dependency injection. Think of "java-properties deluxe": with include statements, string concatenation, typed properties, constructor and setter calls (with validation), and last but not least a concise syntax (as opposed to XML's verbosity).

If you are, however in search of a full blown dependency injection framework that offers web application infrastructure, object-relational mappings, persistence etc., you might want to consider Spring instead ( If you prefer dependency injection at compile-time via annotations, google-guice ( might be a perfect fit.

This document is organized as follows. First, the OmniProperties file syntax will be discussed. The second part explains the Java side of OmniProperties. The final part lists tips and application examples.

If you use eclipse or any other IDE to build Omniproperties, please note that some source files are automatically generated by antlr ( Run for instance mvn package to trigger the generation and make your IDE happy.

There is no need to compile OmniProperties yourself, though. We are on Maven Central. To use OmniProperties in your Maven project, just add


to the dependencies.

Maven Central

Omniproperties Files

OmniProperties files are text files which support a richer syntax than standard Java Property files. In particular they allow the creation of complex objects using constructors and setter methods.

Property Assignment

Primitive Types

  1. Strings: with double quote: var = "String with escapes \t tab \n newline etc."; or single quote: var = 'I say: "bla!"';

  2. Boolean: var = true;

  3. Integers: var = 10;

  4. Longs: var = 10L;

  5. Floats: var = 10.0f;

  6. Doubles: var = 10.0;


Note that Arrays are typed.

Implicitly typed:

variable5 = {1,2, 3};
variable6 = {"string"};

The type is determined by the first entry.

Explicitly typed:

variable7 = int{1,2, 3};
variable8 = java.lang.String{"string", "another string"};
variable9 = File{File("test.txt"), ExistingFile("test.txt")};


Objects with constructor:

variable4 ="test.txt");

Objects with setter methods:

variable4 = com.siemens.Bean()[field1=19, field2="string"];

Constructors and setters can by combined.

Property Defaults

Using the ~ symbol instead of =, the integer 10 is assigned to var only if var does not yet exist:

var ~ 10; 


Strings can be concatenated with the ^ symbol:

var = "prefix " ^ variable1 ^ " postfix";

Variables of any type can be used in string concatenation as OmniProperties will use their toString() method to convert them.

In the same vein arrays of any type can be concatenated:

a1 = {1, 2};
array =  a1 ^ {3, 4};

gives the same result as

array = {1, 2, 3, 4};

The resulting array's type is defined by the type of the first array. Concatenating arrays of incompatible types will raise an exception.

Include Statements

Includes can be used to build modular configurations. Example:

include File("../other.oprops");

Includes support File, URL, InputStream, String (interpreted as a file path) and Map<String, Object> as argument. A Map is copied just copied into OmniProperties, replacing properties with the same name as keys in the Map. All other sources are parsed in the context of the already existing properties. This means that the Omniproperties code in an included File may reference already existing properties.


OmniProperties supports Java-style line comments:

// this is a comment
x = 10; // another comment

The Java Side

Retrieving Typed Properties

Create and load properties:

OmniProperties properties = OmniProperties.create().readFromFile(new File("test.oprops"));

The OmniProperties object offers typed getters for the primitive types plus String.

int x = properties.getInt("x");
String s = properties.getString("s");

Objects can be retrieved by the getObject(String, Class) method. The method is generic and thus allows for method chaining: Example:

properties.getObject("my-runnable", Runnable.class).run();

Arrays are retrieved in the same vein:

int[] intArray = properties.getObject("myArray", int[].class);

If the respective property is not found, a PropertyNotFoundException is thrown. Every getter has a sibling method which takes a default value. Furthermore, there are contains methods to check for the existence of properties:

int x = properties.getInt("x", 10);
boolean b = properties.containsInt("x");

A Closer Look at Object Creation

During object creation OmniProperties performs the following steps:

  1. The class name is looked up in the shortcut map (see next section). If no shortcut is found, the name is interpreted as fully qualified class name.

  2. The appropriate constructor is loaded and invoked to create a new object.

  3. If parameters are given in square brackets they are mapped to setter method invocations. If no setter is found, OmniProperties searches for a field with the respective names and injects the given values. As last resort, OmniProperties searches for a put(String, Object) method and invokes it (thus Map s can by constructed with square bracket notation).

  4. If the class implements the Initializable interface, the init() method is invoked.

  5. The object is validated (see section Validation).

  6. If the object is an instance of the ObjectBuilder interface, the build() method is invoked and its result returned as object. Otherwise, the object is returned directly. (see section Builders)

The following sections provide more details...

Class Shortcuts

Shortcuts for class names can be defined in Every file on the class path root with this name will be taken into account. Thus, shortcuts can be extended by every new jar on the class path. Without shortcut:

var ="test.txt");

With shortcut:

var = File("test.txt");


Annotations from the OVal Validation Framework ( are checked after object creation. Only field constraints are enforced, though. Example:

@NotNull private String test; 

The example throws a ValidationException if 'test' is still null after setters and optional init() method have been invoked. Alternative validation-frameworks can be plugged in. See the setValidator(Validator validator) method in OmniProperties.


Builders can be used to enforce constraints on the created class or to provide alternatives to the constructors. Builders must implement the ObjectBuilder interface:

public interface ObjectBuilder<T> {
    T build() throws Exception;

In the oprops file, builders and constructors are indistinguishable. Example:

var = ExistingFile("test.txt");

Tips and Application Examples

The following section presents tips and common application patterns of OmniProperties.

Syntax Highlighting

There is no OmniProperties plug-in or editor yet. However, as OmniProperties' syntax is close to Java's, any Java editor provides decent syntax highlighting.

Reading Environment or System Variables

The include statement allows the inclusion of the contents of any Map<String, Object>. Env is a builder which reads the environment variables into a map. Thus, the following code does the job:

include Env();

Furthermore, Env offers a constructor which allows for filtering the environment variables based on a regular expression:

include Env("JAVA.*");

In the same vein SysProps loads the system properties.

Logging changes to Properties

properties = OmniProperties.create();
loggingProperties = LoggingOverserver .wrap(properties);

// will produce log output “put(a,10)”
loggingProperties.put(“a”, 10);

// will produce no output”
properties.put(“a”, 10);

Scoping Properties

Assume you have global properties defined by

a="a string";

and local properties defined by

a="another string";

. You can now use ScopedOmniProperties to implement scoping:

globalConfig = OmniProperties.create();
localConfig = new ScopedOmniProperties(globalConfig);

// will return "another string";

// will return 10.0

General Purpose Main-Class

The OmniProperties jar provides a general purpose main class: com.siemens.oss.omniproperties.Run. The idea is that often in projects main classes proliferate and a lot of boilerplate code is written just to run different experimental code with arguments. Run renders such boiler plate mains obsolete. Execute Run with an oprops file as sole argument. The oprops file is read and the property named run, expected to be an instance of Runnable is run. Thus, all configuration is contained in the oprops file and there is no need for argument parsing and main classes anymore. The code of Run is straight forward:

public final class Run {

    public final static String RUN_KEY = "run";

    public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
        if (args.length != 1) {
            System.err.println("Usage: java " + Run.class.getName() + " OPROPS_FILE");
        OmniProperties.create().readFromFile(args[0]).getObject(RUN_KEY, Runnable.class).run();

The method chaining is safe as every method is guaranteed to return a non-null object of correct type. All failures are indicated via exceptions.