Defaults, Overrides and Order

When booting up OpenEJB for testing via the LocalInitialContextFactory or the newer EJBContainer.createEJBContainer() API part of EJB 3.1 there is quite a bit of flexibility to how things are configured.

OpenEJB will function fine with no configuration at all and will happily create things as needed and select defaults for everything. So in a real sense configuration is all about overriding those defaults. There are several places to put your overrides and an a specific order how they are applied. Here they are in order of preference; 1 = highest, 5 = lowest.


  1. InitialContext properties
  2. from the classpath
  3. System properties
  4. openejb.xml declarations/properties
  5. service-jar.xml declarations/properties (internal concept)
EJBContainer API
  • EJBContainer.createEJBContainer(Map) entries
  • System properties
  • openejb.xml declarations/properties
  • service-jar.xml declarations/properties (internal concept)
  • It opens up some interesting possibilities in how you configure your environment. You could do 100% of your configuration in your test case via InitialContext propertes, or you could do say 80% in a file or openejb.xml file and 20% in your test case via InitialContext properties. You can put 100% of your configuration in a or openejb.xml file and override them via InitialContext properties.

    You can manage the properties how you wish and there is no need for redundant definitions if you do not want them.

    What is configurable?

    Everything you can configure via an openejb.xml (minus the element) can be configured/overridden via properties. See Configuring Containers in Tests and Configuring DataSources in Tests.

    Everything in your can be configured/overridden via properties. See Configuring Logging in Tests.

    The properties of persistence units declared in a persistence.xml can be configured/overridden via properties. See Configuring PersistenceUnits in Tests.

    OpenEJB has many flags that can also be set as properties. See OpenEJB Properties for details on those.

    Example of using InitialContext properties

    Properties p = new Properties();
    // set the initial context factory
    p.put("java.naming.factory.initial ", "org.apache.openejb.client.LocalInitialContextFactory");
    // change some logging
    p.put("log4j.category.OpenEJB.options ", " debug");
    p.put("log4j.category.OpenEJB.startup ", " debug");
    p.put("log4j.category.OpenEJB.startup.config ", " debug");
    // create some resources
    p.put("movieDatabase", "new://Resource?type=DataSource");
    p.put("movieDatabase.JdbcDriver ", " org.hsqldb.jdbcDriver");
    p.put("movieDatabase.JdbcUrl ", " jdbc:hsqldb:mem:moviedb");
    // override properties on your "movie-unit" persistence unit
    p.put("movie-unit.hibernate.dialect ", "org.hibernate.dialect.HSQLDialect");
    // set some openejb flags
    p.put("openejb.jndiname.format ", " {ejbName}/{interfaceClass}");
    p.put("openejb.descriptors.output ", " true");
    p.put("openejb.validation.output.level ", " verbose");
    InitialContext initialContext = new InitialContext(p);

    Example of using

    Here's an example of the same properties being specified via a file. This file just needs to be placed in the classpath, not in a subdirectory of a path in the classpath such as META-INF, but at the root of any of the paths in the classpath.

    # set the initial context factory
    java.naming.factory.initial = org.apache.openejb.client.LocalInitialContextFactory
    # change some logging
    log4j.category.OpenEJB.options = debug
    log4j.category.OpenEJB.startup = debug
    log4j.category.OpenEJB.startup.config = debug
    # create some resources
    movieDatabase = new://Resource?type=DataSource
    movieDatabase.JdbcDriver = org.hsqldb.jdbcDriver
    movieDatabase.JdbcUrl = jdbc:hsqldb:mem:moviedb
    # override properties on your "movie-unit" persistence unit
    movie-unit.hibernate.dialect = org.hibernate.dialect.HSQLDialect
    # set some openejb flags
    openejb.jndiname.format = {ejbName}/{interfaceClass}
    openejb.descriptors.output = true
    openejb.validation.output.level = verbose

    Then OpenEJB can be booted via the InitialContext as normal. Properties can still be used to override any of the above properties:

    Properties p = new Properties();
    p.put("openejb.validation.output.level ", " medium");
    InitialContext initialContext = new InitialContext(p);