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Commons Proxy: Dynamic Proxies Made Easy

The Proxy design pattern (GoF) allows you to provide “a surrogate or placeholder for another object to control access to it”. Proxies can be used in many ways, some of which are:

  • Deferred Initialization - the proxy acts as a “stand-in” for the actual implementation allowing it to be instantiated only when absolutely necessary.
  • Security - the proxy object can verify that the user actually has the permission to execute the method (a la EJB).
  • Logging - the proxy can log evey method invocation, providing valuable debugging information.
  • Performance Monitoring - the proxy can log each method invocation to a performance monitor allowing system administrators to see what parts of the system are potentially bogged down.

Commons Proxy supports dynamic proxy generation using proxy factories, object providers, invokers, and interceptors.

Proxy Factories

A ProxyFactory encapsulates all necessary proxying logic away from your code. Switching proxying techniques/technologies is as simple as using a different proxy factory implementation class. Commons Proxy provides several proxy factory implementation modules:

Additionally, the core library provides a proxy factory implementation that delegates to instances discoverable using the Java ServiceLoader mechanism (including those provided by the listed modules).

Proxy factories allow you to create three different types of proxy objects:

  • Delegator Proxy - delegates each method invocation to an object provided by an ObjectProvider.
  • Interceptor Proxy - allows an Interceptor to intercept each method invocation as it makes its way to the target of the invocation.
  • Invoker Proxy - uses an Invoker to handle all method invocations.

Object Providers

Object providers provide the objects which will be the “target” of a proxy. There are two types of object providers:

Core Object Providers

A core object provider provides a core implementation object. Commons Proxy supports many different implementations including:

  • Constant - Always returns a specific object
  • Bean - Instantiates an object of a specified class each time
  • Cloning - Reflectively calls the public clone() method on a Cloneable object

Decorating Object Providers

A decorating object provider decorates the object returned by another provider. Commons Proxy provides a few implementations including:

  • Singleton - Calls a nested provider at most once, returning that original value on all subsequent invocations


An Invoker handles all method invocations using a single method. Commons Proxy provides a few invoker implementations:

  • Null - Always returns a null (useful for the “Null Object” pattern)
  • Duck Typing - Supports so-called “duck typing” by adapting a class to an interface it does not implement.
  • Invocation Handler Adapter - Adapts an implementation of the JDK InvocationHandler interface as a Commons Proxy Invoker.


Commons Proxy allows you to “intercept” a method invocation using an Interceptor. Interceptors provide rudimentary aspect-oriented programming (AOP) support, allowing you to alter the parameters/results of a method invocation without actually changing the implementation of the method itself. Commons Proxy provides a few interceptor implementations including:

  • ObjectProvider - returns the value from an ObjectProvider
  • Throwing - throws an exception
  • Switch - provides a fluent API to configure the handling of invoked methods


The proxies created by the provided proxy factories are Serializable in most cases. For more complex cases Commons Proxy provides basic support for the “serialization proxy” pattern. See org.apache.commons.proxy.serialization for details.


The StubBuilder class allows you to create a proxy with customized behavior specified by a typesafe DSL. The AnnotationBuilder variant provides a simple way to create Java annotation instances at runtime.


The latest version is v1.0 (requires Java 1.4 or later). - Download now!

For previous releases, see the Apache archive.


The Commons mailing lists act as the main support forum. The user list is suitable for most library usage queries. The dev list is intended for the development discussion. Please remember that the lists are shared between all Commons components, so prefix your email subject with [proxy].

Issues may be reported via ASF JIRA. Please read the instructions carefully to submit a useful bug report or enhancement request.