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Using Maven2 to build projects which use JNI code

This page documents my experiences with supporting projects which use JNI code, and describes the solution I developed and the tools I use, in the hope that it may save somebody else this pain.


I work in telecoms, which means that we have quite a lot of projects which have a greater or lesser quantity of native code, either because they interface to the operating system at a low level, or simply as a way of dealing with the real-time requirements of our software. As time has gone by, we've built up a reasonably complex heirarchy of applications with native code which depend on libraries with native code, and some of the libraries even export native-level symbols to application native code.

Our investigations with converting JNI-free projects to a Maven2 build process were extremely positive, and it therefore soon became desirable to convert all of our projects, including those with JNI requirements, to Maven2. This led to the following requirements for the build process.


  1. The build/release process should match as closely as possible that of a non-JNI project - checkout followed by 'mvn package', etc.
  2. As this functionality will be common to many projects, long incantations of plugin configuration in each pom are unacceptable; it must be possible to either factor everything out to a common parent pom, or just to have sensible defaults which build everything. For example, it should be possible to make use of a library using JNI code - and have it work for unit tests, assemblies, etc - just by adding it to your <dependencies/> element.
  3. It should be possible to run an application with as little extraneous scripting as possible. Essentially, this means: unzip assembly; run jar -jar on application jar.
  4. It should be possible to call functions in one JNI library from another. Typically this means having the library's include files and dll available at compile time, and having the library available for dynamic linking at runtime.

For bonus points:

  1. During the development cycle, it shouldn't be necessary to run the entire maven build cycle for each change. The user's IDE can be configured to build the Java side, so we need a means of quickly building the native side.

Possible solutions

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