Java – How to manage embedded configuration files and libraries in java webapps


I'm currently working on a j2ee project that's been in beta for a while now. Right now we're just hammering out some of the issues with the deployment process. Specifically, there are a number of files embedded in the war (some xml-files and .properties) that need different versions deploying depending on whether you are in a dev, testing or production environment. Stuff like loglevels, connection pools, etc.

So I was wondering how developers here structure their process for deploying webapps. Do you offload as much configuration as you can to the application server? Do you replace the settings files programmatically before deploying? Pick a version during build process? Manually edit the wars?

Also how far do you go in providing dependencies through the application servers' static libraries and how much do you put in the war themselves? All this just to get some ideas of what the common (or perhaps best) practice is at the moment.

Best Solution

I think that if the properties are machine/deployment specific, then they belong on the machine. If I'm going to wrap things up in a war, it should be drop-innable, which means nothing that's specific to the machine it's running on. This idea will break if the war has machine dependent properties in it.

What I like to do is build a project with a properties.example file, each machine has a .properties that lives somewhere the war can access it.

An alternative way would be to have ant tasks, e.g. for dev-war, stage-war, prod-war and have the sets of properties part of the project, baked in in the war-build. I don't like this as much because you're going to end up having things like file locations on an individual server as part of your project build.