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srcdeps for Maven

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A tool for building dependencies of a Maven project from their sources during the build of the dependent Maven project.

A similar tool for building source dependencies of Gradle projects lives under . Contributions to support Ant, sbt and other Java build tools are welcome!

What is this good for?

Source dependencies can help in situations, when the binaries of a dependency are not available in any remote Maven repository. It may happen for various reasons, such as:

  • The dependency project has not released yet because they release e.g. biweekly, but you want to develop and test your project on top of their changes continuously - in the most extreme case, you want to integrate each of their commits. This helps to find issues early and shorten your own delivery cycles.

  • The dependency project has not released for whatever other reasons (other priorities, project discontinued, …​) but you still need to consume some commit from their branch.

  • The dependency project is doing nasty things and you do not want to consume their binaries. You want to fork their source repository, cherry-pick only some of their commits and let srcdeps build out of your fork on the fly.

Check this presentation to find out more about source dependencies in Java:

srcdeps support for Maven

You need to use Maven 3.3.1+ to build a Maven project that has source dependencies. Since srcdeps-maven version 3.2.0, a Maven project may depend not only on a source commit of another Maven project but also on a source commit of a Gradle project.

The present solution for Maven is leveraging the concept of Maven Core Extensions introduced in Maven 3.3.1. In particular, we provide an implementation of LocalRepositoryManager that delegates all the usual artifact lookup work to the standard local repository manager available in Maven class path, but it is watching carefully, if the requested artifact is marked as a source dependency either in pom.xml or in srcdeps.yaml. If so, the srcdeps-core library is called, to build what is necessary and install it to the Maven Local Repository. In other words, the dependencies are built and installed while they are looked up.

How to configure srcdeps for Maven

We provide a maven plugin that initializes srcdeps configuration files .mvn/extensions.xml and srcdeps.yaml. Just run the following in the root directory of your project tree:

mvn org.srcdeps.mvn:srcdeps-maven-plugin:init

While the resulting .mvn/extensions.xml will mostly be ready to use, the usefulness of the generated srcdeps.yaml file depends strongly on the completeness of your dependencies' pom files. You should review the generated srcdeps.yaml and adjust it manually.

See srcdeps for Maven Configuration Guide for more details about .mvn/extensions.xml and srcdeps.yaml.

Note that all options configurable in srcdeps.yaml can be overriden through system properties passed on the command line. See

Examples a.k.a. Quickstarts

There is a couple of ready-to-build self-contained examples in the srcdeps-maven-quickstarts directory. Perhaps the most prominent of them are

  • The srcdeps-mvn-git-revision-quickstart that demonstrates how a Maven project can depend on a source revision of another Maven project. The git revision of the dependent project is set in pom.xml of the dependent project.

  • The srcdeps-mvn-git-snapshot-quickstart is similar to the previous srcdeps-mvn-git-revision-quickstart but the revision of the dependency is defined in srcdeps.yaml rather than in pom.xml. This is practical if you do not want to change pom.xml for some reason.

  • The srcdeps-mvn-git-gradle-source-dependency-quickstart shows a Maven project depending on a source revision of a Gradle project.

How srcdeps works

  • There are two ways to mark a dependency as a source dependency: in pom.xml or in srcdeps.yaml.

  • As we noted above, srcdeps provides a custom Maven Local Repository implementation which intercepts the artifact requests. If it spots a source dependency artifact it does the following:

  • It finds a SCM repository in srcdeps.yaml associated with the given artifact.

  • The URL of the associated SCM repository is used to fetch the sources of the dependency and checkout the desired revision. The sources are cloned to ${maven.repo.local}/../srcdeps/${}

  • Then, srcdeps-core changes the version in the sources to whatever version was requested using versions-maven-plugin in case the dependency is a Maven project, or a piece of gradle script injected to settings.gradle if the dependency is a Gradle project. This step is necessary because the version in pom.xml/ as checked out from the remote source repository may be different from the artifact version requested.

  • And finally, srcdeps-core builds the artifacts and installs them to the local Maven repository

  • As of srcdeps-maven 3.3.0, the source dependencies are rebuild during every build of the dependent project, except for the following two cases which are considered immutable and are thus built and installed only once:

Source dependencies pointing at a branch

If you decide to depend on a branch by e.g.


then you need to know the following:

  • my-special-branch is fetched at most once per JVM.

  • Outer build containing the above snippet is one JVM and inner builds taking care for building my-special-branch or any other source dependencies are separate JVMs.

  • Hence if you have two projects in your dependency hierarchy depending on the two JVMs taking care for building it may clash by fetching two different states of the branch at two different points in time.

  • my-special-branch is rebuilt only if its HEAD has changed with the last fetch.

  • This means that if there is no clash, my-special-branch is built at most once per whole build set that includes the top level outer build and all its recursive inner builds. In other words, there is no rebuild if HEAD has not changed since the last build of the given branch.

  • In case of a clash, the behavior is untested. In the worst case, the clashing JVMs may all fire builds that will re-install new artifacts to local Maven repository in the middle of the outermost build. One half of the build would thus see built from one commit and the other half would see built from a different commit.


Legacy note

Originally, the present project provided a Maven plugin called srcdeps-maven-plugin that worked fairly well in most situations, but it turned out soon that the Maven Plugin API is not rich enough to allow for catching dependencies of all possible kinds. Most notably, the given project’s parent pom and imports in dependencyManagement sections were resolved by Maven even before the plugin was initialized. Thus, if the given project’s parent pom had a -SRC- version, the build failed with a missing artifact error message, simply because it happened before srcdeps-maven-plugin could do anything. That’s why we later chose the much more powerful Maven Core Extensions API to implement srcdeps for Maven.


Maven specific part of srcdeps - a tool to build project dependencies from their sources







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