This page is meant to discuss the requirements and design of a new Sling launcher.

It was created in September 2014 to help build consensus about such a launcher.

Current status

(Updated March 2016)

The current launchpad/runnable jar approach does not seem ideal for modern operations where one wants to drive the creation and configuration of Sling instances from (structured) text files that can be managed in Git or other source code control systems, for programmable infrastructure (aka devops).

The Sling Provisioning Model implements the Sling Instance Config concept mentioned below. It is used by Sling Maven plugins to generate runnable launchpad jars as well as (to a certain extent) Karaf features.

The experimental Crankstart launcher was created in early 2014 to support some Sling operations / cluster prototypes: Artyom Stetsenko's prototype and Bertrand's Docker/Sling cluster playground. It was modified in 2015 to support the Sling Provisioning Model and is used in integration tests for the ./contrib/commons/mom/jobs/it module.


A Sling Instance Config (SIC) fully describes the configuration of a Sling instance, including all bundles, run modes, OSGi configurations, OSGi framework properties, repoinit statements etc.

Sling NG Launcher Design Goals

Must have

  • Launch a single, optionally immutable (in terms of its SIC) Sling instance from a SIC.
  • Define the SIC in a diff-friendly and structured text format that's also human-friendly, including comments. YAML comes to mind.
  • Refer to artifacts using Maven coordinates - these can always be converted to other types of URIs as needed.
  • Provide a way to specify digests and/or signatures for those artifacts, to validate them before use.
  • Include OSGi configurations and OSGi framework properties (including framework version selection) in the SIC so that everything is defined there
  • Allow for merging two or more SICs with well defined rules, optionally using signatures or digests to validate the included SICs
  • Allow for run mode dependent settings including artifacts, OSGi configurations and OSGi framework properties
  • Provide a way to supply configuration values from the environment, for example to connect the Sling instance to a storage server via an URL supplied at runtime.
  • Stay compatible with the current launchpad where it makes sense, in particular for command-line startup options

Nice to have

Some of these need a refined specification to decide whether they are actually needed.

  • Use a minimal launcher that "never" needs to change, like Crankstart does.
  • Maybe combine declarative instructions (lists of bundles for example) with procedural statements ("start framework") for example to allow for optimized and deterministic startup scenarios.
  • Allow for dynamic extensions of the startup mechanism, like Crankstart does.
  • If using a runnable jar, allow for influencing the launcher setup (run modes probably) by renaming the runnable jar. That's a useful way of producing runnable jars with multiple modes that are very easy to repurpose, by just renaming.
  • Maybe allow for pre-assembling the instance for faster startup, like downloading dependencies in advance and embedding in the launcher jar file or in a "sidecar" jar that can be accessed locally.
  • The launcher can output a digest of the overall SIC, to be able to verify that multiple instances have the exact same model.

Open Questions

  • Do we need or want run modes in the SIC? We might also create different deployments by combining a set of base SICs in different ways.
  • Runtime or build time assembly? Crankstart gets and assembles artifacts at startup time, launchpad at build time.
  • No labels


  1. From a develop/ops perspective I'd vote for Bertrand's docker/sling mechanism simply for the fig/docker/etcd toolkit combination.  The only thing I'd change is to use an apt based distro over yum for the docker container but that's just personal preference. What is still required for the dynamic service discovery?

    Next step an AWS cloudformation deployment template? That would truly be the dev-ops panacea.

    1. My choice of Docker base images was mostly trial and error for this initial prototype, so there's certainly room for improvement. The dynamic service discovery mostly works within Sling, but with the current prototype you have to restart all Sling instances if the mongodb provider changes - we might use etcd to advertise all the backend services (mongo, metrics etc) and implement the required dynamics to change the corresponding Sling configs when the etcd data changes.

      AWS cloudformation improvements are welcome - that would tie the user to Amazon but it's certainly a valid option for many people. Feel free to discuss any proposals/prototypes on the Sling dev list!


  2. See also where Carsten suggests a number of additional requirements for the current version of Crankstart which uses the Sling provisioning model.

    Here's the list from his original message there:

    1. Provide several models on startup - the models are merged into a
    single model and then run
    2. The above models can be read from a repository
    3. Repository support: file url, http url, s3 url
    4. Setting the port on startup (overriding a value the model)
    5. Setting the context path for the app (overriding a value in the model)
    6. Setting the active run modes	
    7. Setting additional framework properties from the command line
    8. Set model variables from the command line - these overwrite values in
    the model
    9. Provide a way to just download all referenced artifacts and putting
    them in a maven repo like file structure
    10. Support of the launchpad api startup mode (install, update, restart)
    11. Support of the launchpad api startup listener (report startup
    finished event when all the stuff from the provisioning model is installed).