December 21, 2009

NetMX & Spring.NET - configure your Apps at runtime

Ever wished you could change some settings of your application during runtime? Easily retrieve runtime information from your components? You tried WMI and Performance Counters?

Well I did and to put it polite: I don't like WMI. Performance Counters are a nice way to retrieve peformance information about an application, but when it comes to changing an application's settings or behavior at runtime, you need another way. WMI is still COM-based, although a WMI.NET binding is available via the System.Management components. Alas this binding is not complete and functions are spread across different namespaces for historical reasons. To put a long story short: It is nothing for the fainthearted.

Brief Introduction to Java Management Extensions (JMX)

In the Java universe for this purpose there is JMX. Basically it allows an application to expose management objects via a JMX server. A monitoring client can then connect to this server and dynamically obtain runtime information about the exposed management objects. In contrast to WMI there is no schema involved, everything is discovered dynamically. For instance the server application could expose the following management bean:

public interface SampleMBean
    public String getHello();
    public void setHello(String helloMessage);
    public String sayHello();

public class Sample implements SampleMBean {

    private String hello = "Hello World(s)!";

    public Sample() {

    public String getHello() {
        return hello;

    public void setHello(String helloMessage) {
      hello = helloMessage;

    public String sayHello() {
      return hello;

Using the JConsole tool, one can easily connect to this application's virtual machine and remotely retrieve/change the properties as well as invoke the exposed method(s):



The server application may expose its management objects over a variety of different connectors, as it is shown in this image (copied from the Wikipedia article about JMX)

And Now: .NET Management Extensions

Thanks to the amazing work of Szymon Pobiega, the power of JMX is available for the .NET platform as well. The NetMX implementation is available from CodePlex. The really nice part is, that it also comes with a working implementation of the JSR262 JMX connector, so that it is possible to connect to your .NET application using JConsole (yes, that's true and I'm going to proof that ;-)). Of course NetMX also comes with a .NET version of the console, please check out the project for more. I grabbed the sources and compiled them. After playing around a while, I decided to implement a simple usage scenario.

The Sample Scenario

Every now and then I wanted to increase decrease the logging level of my applications (among other things ...). Using NetMX it should be easy. And - well it was! Using Spring.NET, it was easy to weave a logging advice around my components, using NetMX it was easy to expose a management object for this logging advice, so that the log settings can be changed at runtime. The picture below illustrates the scenario setup I aimed for:

image The Logging Advice intercepts every call to the service object and logs the method calls to the log system. By default, logging is turned off, using JConsole I want to change those settings during runtime.

My sample application again is the MovieFinder application. To make the effect visible, the client code retrieves the movielist every second and prints the timestamp + the moviename on the console. Also the logging system is configured to write to the console, but disabled by default.

The Solution

The sources for my experiment can be fetched from my subversion repository. What you also need is the JSR262 enhanced version of JConsole, which is included in the samples of the JSR262 Connector download. Unpack the connector download and checkout $/jsr262-ri-ea4/samples/index.html for more.

So launching the application results in a screen similar to this:


Now launch JConsole and connect to our .NET application using the url "service:jmx:ws://":

imageExpanding the tree shown in the left pane, you should see this:

image  Now let's change some settings. Double-Click into the "Value" column and enter the following:

imageé voila! Our console has significantly changed now:


We just reconfigured the logging advice on the fly to also log all method calls to our service and also dumps the arguments passed in!

Here's the configuration snipped required to make this happen (using Spring.NET CodeConfig from my last post):

var appContext = new GenericApplicationContext(false);
    .EnableLogging(log =>
       log.TypeFilter = type => type.IsDefined(typeof(ServiceAttribute), true);
       log.Logger.LogLevel = LogLevel.Off;
   .EnableNetMX(netmx =>
     netmx.AddConnector<Jsr262ConnectorServerProvider>(new Uri(""));

Enjoy and again thanks to Szymon for his great work!

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