Norbert’s Corner

More Control over ResourceBundle

June 24, 2005

Did you ever wish you had a little more control over the ResourceBundle class? Say, have it instantiate bundles from XML files or from data in a database, rather than just class and properties files? Or, to the contrary, have it look only for properties files, because you never use class-based resource bundles? Or have it reload a bundle with a little fix without having to restart your web application, which otherwise is on the way towards reaching 99.999% uptime? Well, you just got that little more control: The ResourceBundle.Control class in JDK 6.

The central method in ResourceBundle has always been getBundle. This method looks for resource bundles of predefined types in predefined places using a predefined search strategy, loaded them in predefined ways, and cached them in a largely unspecified way.

The idea of the Control class is to expose every major step of the bundle loading process as a separate method that can be overridden and customized. The Control class itself implements the methods so that using it directly results in the same behavior as in previous releases. But applications can subclass it, override as many methods as necessary to implement the behavior they need, and pass an instance of this subclass to new getBundle methods that accept Control objects.

For some of the most common cases, you don’t actually need to write your own subclass: If you just want to use only class-based or only properties-based resource bundles, or if you want to avoid the fallback to the default locale, the getControl and getNoFallbackControl methods provide you with ready-made instances.

Here are a few examples for how you can go further (the class description has more):

Some methods need to be overridden together. For example, if you override getFormats to return formats other than "java.class" and "", you also need to override newBundle to load bundles of these formats. If, in addition, you override getTimeToLive to enable checking whether a bundle in the cache is still up to date, you may also need to override needsReload to implement the checking.

If, instead of periodically checking whether resource bundles in the cache are still up to date, you’d rather remove all your application’s bundles from the cache when installing new bundles, you can use the new ResourceBundle.clearCache methods.

As always, we’d love to hear from you whether these API additions meet your needs, or what’s wrong with them. Please try them, file bugs, or send us your feedback.