Content and configuration

When developing for AEM, you are probably aware of the OSGI configuration. Every service stores its configuration within OSGI, and it’s very easy to extract the configuration from there for consumption. Also there are a number of best practices around deploying and maintaining these configurations.
This is very handy way to store information, and many developers tend to store all kind of configurable data inside OSGI.

But should all configuration stored inside OSGI? Let me show you some downsides of this approach:

  • OSGI configuration can be only changed through the “admin” user (or a member of the administrator group) and through the OSGI webconsole. Typically these accounts are owned by IT, because any access to the OSGI webconsole grants you a lot of chances to mess up the system. A normal user should not have access to the OSGI webconsole, neither from a permission point of view nor from the networking point of view (lock down /system/console URLs! Limit access to it to an admin network!)
  • Modifying configurations directly in the OSGI webconsole is not best practice; it’s OK to test something in the staging environment that way, but it should never be used to make changes in production. OSGI configuration should always be deployed in a content package, and not be changed via webconsole.
  • In many cases changing the configuration of a service causes a restart of this service and all other services depending on this service. That means, that doing such a change in a running system can cause lots of errors while services are stopping and starting.

Based on that, it is clearly visible, that not every configuration piece should be stored inside OSGI configuration.

The question is then: What should be stored inside OSGI configuration?

  • Configuration which has a global impact. For example the search path of the SlingMainServlet has the impact to break the complete application.
  • Configuration which should be tested. Testing means not only validating that a single operation is working (like a backend connection test), but which rather requires the run of some test cases.

And what should not be stored as OSGI configuration?

  • Configuration which is supposed to change not in accordance with any release or deployment cycle. For example an access token for an external system, which needs to be updated every month.
  • Configuration which should be changed by regular authors, but should not carried out by the admin user. The admin user is often owned by IT, and IT is typically very happy if they are not bothered with unrelated tasks from content authors.
  • Configuration which pertains to content. For example configuration if a contact email should be displayed as part of the page footer. Although it might be a global decision (probably not!) it should not be configured via OSGI.
  • Configuration is tight to a specific environment. For example you need to have the hostname of your site, but on UAT this name is of course different from production.

Starting with AEM 6.2 Sling Context-Aware Configuration (short: CA-Config) can be used to store and retrieve such configurations in a very efficient and sling-ish manner. More details in the followup posting. So stayed tuned.

2 thoughts on “Content and configuration

  1. Pingback: Sling Context-Aware configuration | Things on a content management system

  2. Pingback: Sling Context-Aware configuration (part 2) | Things on a content management system

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