Adam Warski

5 Jan 2013

Veripacks 0.1 – Verify Package Specifications


Using some free time during my Christmas & New Year break, I worked on a new project, which implements some of the ideas from my earlier blog “Let’s turn packages into a module system”.

The project is Veripacks; it allows to specify which classes from a package should be accessible, and verify that the specification is met.

This is similar to package-private access in Java, however Veripacks extends this to subpackages, respecting package parent-child dependencies. While usually the package is just a string identifier, Veripacks treats packages in a hierarchical way. For example, is a subpackage of That means that exporting a class not only hides other classes from the same package, but also classes from subpackages.

In some cases, Veripacks can be used to replace a separate build module. It aims to be a scalable and composable solution, allowing for multi-layered exports, that is specifying access both for small pieces of code and large functionalities.

Veripacks currently defines two annotations:

  • @Export – applicable to a class, specifies that the annotated class should be visible to other packages. Classes without the annotation but in the same package, and all classes in subpackages won’t be visible. Several classes in one package can be exported.
  • @ExportAll – applicable to a package (in, specifies that all classes and subpackages should be exported. Has only documentational significance, as this is the default for all packages if no classes are explicitly exported.

Using a bit of an imaginary syntax to make things compact:

package {
   class A { ... }

   class B { ... }

package {
   class C { ... }

package {
   class Test {
      // ok, A is exported
      new A() 

      // illegal, B is not exported
      new B() 

      // illegal, C is in a subpackage of p1, and p1 only exports A 
      new C() 
How to use it?

Veripacks can be used with any language running on the JVM; while written in Scala, it will work without problems in Java-only projects.

No build plugins or such are needed; just create a new test, with the following body:

public void runVeripacksTest() {
      new Verifier()

This will throw an exception if there are some specification violations. You can also inspect the result of the verify call, which contains more detailed information (also included in the exception message).

The project files are deployed to SoftwareMill’s public Nexus repository:

<!-- Only the annotations -->

<!-- The verifier, has a dependency on the annotations -->

        <name>SotwareMill Public Releases</name>
        <name>SotwareMill Public Snapshots</name>
What’s next?

Of course this is just the beginning. Many more functionalities could be added:

  • allow exporting none/some/all subpackages, along with exporting none/some/all classes
  • add support for importing:
    • specify that a package can only be used if explicitly imported using a @RequiresImport annotation
    • support an @Import annotation to specify classes from which packages can be used in a package
  • allow to specify which classes/subpackages are exported in a separate file

The last two points will allow to constrain usage of external libraries. For example, if using Hibernate, we could specify that only classes from the org.hibernate package should be accessible, while classes from org.hibernate.internal – not. Furthermore, by specifying that Hibernate needs to be explicitly imported, we could verify that only packages that contain a @Import("org.hibernate") can access the Hibernate classes.

This is similar to creating a separate build-module and adding the Hibernate dependency to it only.

The code is available on GitHub; feel free to use, fork & extend. Also as always waiting for any comments.


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