Bootstrap (Service Loader)

Bootstrap has different meaning based on the context of the current subject. Today, we are going to talk about Bootstrap that is related to Software / programming technique. Bootstrap is a technique where we use to load different services at the system start based on context of any program.

Where can we use Bootstrap?

  • Where we need to load the Services / Systems / Modules dynamically. (In this program, we use to define the Services to load). Something that needs
  • Where we need to load the Services based on State of Server. For eg., any application server may be started / running with different state like NORMAL, IDLE, ERROR, UPDATE, … so on.. In that case, we can define different services to be turned on based on the modules as specified in file.
  • Where we need to take complete control of Services loaded to the System. As well, if we need to have total control of the Services to turn ON / OFF based on some events. Total instrumentation over Services can be achieved by using this technique.

Some real-time example for Bootstrap:

How is Bootstrap designed?

Check out this link in Wiki of Bootstapping where it says that Bootstrapping can be interpreted as some step by step process where it initiates each service at the boot of the system. Here in our system we made it completely property file driven (I don’t recommend to keep all configuration to be kept in database as even Database should be treated as service). So, entire Bootstrap system is a self-sustained system that doesn’t need any service to work.

Step 1. Load Service list and State of system from Property file:

We create a custom property file that defines the current state of system to be started. As mentioned above, the current state can be NORMAL, IDLE, ERROR and more.. For each and every state, we will specify list of Services that are to be started in the Bootstrap startup. The Bootstrap will first load the property file and will prepare the list of Services to be started with any optional arguments specified in the property file.

Step 2. Init and Start the Services:

Now after loading the list of Services to be loaded, the Bootstrap will start one service after another sequentially as specified in the property file. What are services? A Service is again a self-sustained module / system that will be serving application for one specific context. Some examples can be Database Access Service, Scheduler Service, SMS Service, EMAIL Service, and so on… Here we can have any types of services in the System based on its function. But, they are broadly classified under two types as ESSENTIAL or ADDON based on its need. At the Bootstrap startup, when any of the Essential services are not started due to some problem, then the booting process will be put to error mode and shut down the system automatically (Remember what happens when memory service fails when you start the computer? similar system).

Each service will run independently providing access to the system. We should be having a Service Directory something similar to JNDI implementation where we will register all booted services for further use. Any modules / application layer will access the Service Directory and will get the working instance of the service and will invoke its functionality.

After successfully starting all the services, now Bootstrap itself will change its state to NORMAL or any state as specified in

Step 3: Accessing Service:

Now, once the Bootstrap is successfully executed and started, all the Services will be available in the Service Directory. Service Directory as said before, is a JNDI kind of implementation where we keep all the instances of services in a map where we can get it object by passing its Simple Name (of class) as context. We shall get instance that is initialized and started at Bootstrap with complete accessibility.

Step 4: Shutting down Bootstrap

If we have to put system on halt for any need, we will be executing Bootstrap’s shutdown function, where it will stop each services one by one and will finally put the server to shutdown mode. This will be really useful to take complete control on each services that are running at the time of shutdown. Particularly if we have any thread based application, we should make sure all the threads are put down before we shutdown the system.

Instrumentation / Control Panel for Services:

This Bootstrap and Service Directory totally enables us to create an Instrumentation layer, where we can create a Control panel where we can manage each and every service individually. You can think like a dashboard panel where you can turn on / off any specific service.

Programmatic Implementation (Java Based):

Considering above 4 steps, I created a simple Bootstrap implementation based on Java (We can use the same technique to create the same in any languages). Here is the class diagram generated from my source code:

Bootstrap Class Diagram

Bootstrap Class Diagram

Source Code:

I shared the source code at GitHub You can download the source code and use it in your project. You can always ping me to get any information regarding Bootstrap.

Sample Implementation:

In the source code, there is a package com.test where we have two Service Classes, TestService and DummyService for you to understand how to create a service. Also, refer to to see how to configure a properties file to start the bootstrap. There is a another file having main method where you can run and see the output of Bootstrap.


I used Apache’s Logger for using as logger for the Bootstrap and you can run with the BasicConfigurator to see the output in console itself.


Hope this Bootstrap system is easy-to-implement in your existing architecture. And it helps you to make your system more towards SOA and improves the modularity of the system.


Kousik Rajendran.


About kousikraj
Director & Chief Enterprise Architect at Sphata Systems. Expert in building Cloud based Solutions, Product Engineering, enterprise platforms, RIA, Mobile and Healthcare Applications.

One Response to Bootstrap (Service Loader)

  1. Kousik very nice description on Service Loader. Also check out the OSGI Services, which will give you some more insight and also think about the Distributed Services and how you can expand on your object structure to invoke remote objects.

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