JEXL is a library intended to facilitate the implementation of dynamic and scripting features in applications and frameworks written in Java.
JEXL implements an Expression Language based on some extensions to the JSTL Expression Language supporting most of the
constructs seen in shell-script or ECMAScript.
Its goal is to expose scripting features usable by technical operatives or consultants working with enterprise platforms.
The library exposes a small footprint API - the core features fit in 3 classes and 10 methods - that can be used in various conditions:
JEXL name stands for Java EXpression Language, a simple expression language originally inspired by Apache Velocity and the Expression Language defined in the JavaServer Pages Standard Tag Library version 1.1 (JSTL) and JavaServer Pages version 2.0 (JSP). JEXL 2.0 added features inspired by Unified EL. The syntax is now close to a mix of ECMAScript and "shell-script" making it easy to master by technical operatives or consultants. The objects exposed and their behavior obviously need to be documented though...
The API and the expression language exploit Java-beans naming patterns through introspection to expose property getters and setters. It also considers public class fields as properties and allows to invoke any accessible method.
JEXL attempts to bring some of the lessons learned by the Velocity community about expression languages in templating to a wider audience. Commons Jelly needed Velocity-ish method access, it just had to have it.
It must be noted that JEXL is not a compatible implementation of EL as defined in JSTL 1.1 (JSR-052) or JSP 2.0 (JSR-152). For a compatible implementation of these specifications, see the Commons EL project.
When evaluating expressions, JEXL merges an Expression with a JexlContext. An Expression is created using JexlEngine#createExpression(), passing a String containing valid JEXL syntax. A simple JexlContext can be created by instantiating a MapContext; a map of variables that will be internally wrapped can be optionally provided through its constructor. The following example, takes a variable named foo, and invokes the bar() method on the property innerFoo:
// Create or retrieve a JexlEngine JexlEngine jexl = new JexlEngine(); // Create an expression object String jexlExp = "foo.innerFoo.bar()"; Expression e = jexl.createExpression( jexlExp ); // Create a context and add data JexlContext jc = new MapContext(); jc.set("foo", new Foo() ); // Now evaluate the expression, getting the result Object o = e.evaluate(jc);
While JEXL is similar to the expression language defined in JSTL, it has improved upon the syntax in a few areas:
JEXL is not a product of the Java Community Process (JCP), but it provides a similar expression syntax. For more information about JSP 2.0 EL and JSTL 1.1 EL: