Resource API

In addition to the formal Catalog API GeoServer needs a way to manage all of the helper files such as icons and fonts, along with freemarker templates, image mosaic property files and many more.

Rather than make direct use of files GeoServer has introduced a Resource API to access this content. While the primary motivation is to allow sharing resources in a cluster, eventually using a different storage, e..g. database or distributed memory. We took this opportunity to optimize the most common use-cases for file interaction in our codebase.


Make use of the Resource API for “file” interaction

While the Resource API does offer the ability to unpack a File onto disk for interaction with libraries like Freemarker that only work with files, the majority of interaction can be handled with input and output streams.


Parameter Naming Convention

The methods in the Resource API use String parameter names consistently:

  • resource path parameter is a path to a resource in the resource store.

    In the case of the default FileSystemResourceStore, this is file path that is relative with respect to the data directory. To preserve generic behaviour compatible with any resource store, developers should not assume this to be the case.

    Resource paths do not support the . and .. relative directory names. Resource paths use forward slashes, similar to URL’s and unix style file paths, and are OS-independent.

  • file path parameter is an absolute path to a file in the file system.

    While these are OS dependent (with regard to the root of the absolute path) but they must always use forward slashes, as supported by all operating systems and compatible with resource paths as well as file URL’s. Note that Resource.path() for resources obtained by Files.asResource(file) will return a file path rather than a resource path.

  • file parameter is a java File reference.

  • url a location resolved with respect to the resource store.

    A number of special cases developed over time distilled into Resources.fromUrl(base,url) method.

General Guidelines

All geoserver developers should be wary of the following general principles when contributing or reviewing:

  • Avoid as much as possible using the file system directly.


    The only acceptable exception is when third party libraries require use of a File. Even in this case use Resources API as much as possible.

  • Use Avoid the usage of Resource.file() and

    These methods are only necessary for third party libraries that require usage of the file system, when the third party library accepts a file input.


    The file() and directory() methods are never be used for permanent storage. Since there are alternative implementations of the ResourceStore that do not use the file system as underlying storage device, modifying a file on disk does not necessarily have a lasting effect.

  • For custom configuration files with a fixed location, always use ResourceStore.

    GeoServerResourceLoader and GeoServerDataDirectory from GeoServer 1.0 have been rewritten internally to use Resource API , and should not be used in new code.

  • For URL’s provided by user configuration (such as templates, style sheets, etc), use Resources.fromURL.

  • For input/output, always use and Resource.out().

    This approach is compatible with java try-with-resource making for easy to follow code.


Used to manage configuration storage (file system, test harness, or database blob).

InputStream used to access configuration information:

Properties properties = new Properties();
try (InputStream in = resourceStore.get("module/").in() ){

An OutputStream is provided for storage (a Resource will be created as needed):

Properties properties = new Properties();
try (OutputStream out = resourceStore.get("module/").out() ){ out, null );

A Resource can also be extracted to a file if needed:

File file = resourceStore.get("module/logo.png");
BufferedImage img = file );

The base directory is available using Paths.BASE (as "" but relative paths (. and .. are not supported). Path assumes a unix-like file system, all paths are relative and use forward slash {@code /} as the separator.


Resource used for configuration storage. Described by getType() as a Type.DIRECTORY, Type.RESOURCE, or are considered Type.UNDEFINED.

Resource contents are streamed using out() and in() methods. The entire contents can be managed in one go using setContents(bytes) and getContents().

try (OutputStream out = resource.out() ){

Resource path() provides the complete path relative to the ResourceStore base directory. Use name() to retrieve the resource name (as the last component in the path name sequence).

Resource creation is handled in a lazy fashion, use out() and the resource will be created as required, including any required parent directories are created to produce the completed path.

Directory resources have the ability to list() their contents:

for( Resource child : resource.list()) {

The method isInternal() returns whether the resource is part of the resource store or rather a wrapped file obtained by File.asResource. If this method returns false then path() returns a file path rather than a resource path.

The methods file() and dir() may be used to obtain a file system representation of the resource. Depending on the resource store implementation, this may be the underlying storage entity (in the case of the default FileSystemResourceStore), or merely a cached entity. Changes to these should not be assumed to be permanent. These methods should only be used for input when a third library requires a file and does not support passing on streams.

Once created resources can be managed with delete(), renameTo(resource) methods.

Resource supports addListener(listener) / removeListener(listener) event notification allowing code to watch a file for change. A single listener can watch for changes within a folder, with the events providing the path of changed files.

Resource lock() is also supported.


The Paths facade provides methods for working with resource paths used by ResourceStore.

Helpful methods are provided for working with paths and names:

  • name(path)

  • extension(path)

  • parent(path)

  • sidecar(path, extension)

  • names(path) processes the path into a list of names as discussed below.

Paths are broken down into a sequence of names, as listed by Paths.names(path):

  • Path.names("data/tasmania/roads.shp") is represented as a list of data, tasmania, roads.shp.

For file paths that are OS dependent, use FilePaths.names(file_path) instead.


The FilePaths facade provides methods for working with file paths.

Paths are broken down into a sequence of names, as listed by Paths.names(path):

  • On linux FilePath.names("/src/gis/cadaster/district.geopkg") starts with a marker to indicate an absolute path, resulting in /, src, gis, cadaster, district.geopkg.

  • On windows FilePath.names("D:/gis/cadaster/district.geopkg") starts with a marker to indicate an absolute path, resulting in D:/, gis, cadaster, district.geopkg.


The convert methods are used to process file references into resource paths:

  • Paths.convert(base,file) - uses URI relativize method to determine relative path (between file and base)

  • Paths.convert(base,folder, fileLocation) - can resolve relative location, limited to content within the base directory

  • Paths.convert(base, filename)


The Resources facade provides lots of common activities for working with Resource.

Most of these perform common activities or check on resource status exists(resource), hidden(resource).

Resources methods provide the flexibility to work with with Resource while not getting caught out in the dfference between DIRECTORY and RESOURCE type.

if( Resources.exists(resource)) {
    // may be a file or a directory
    File fileLocation = Resources.find(resource);

There are also methods to copy contents into a resource:

Resources.copy( file, targetDirectory);

There are also method for working with directories recursively and filtering content:

for (Resource svg : Resources.list( resource, new ExtensionFilter("svg"), true )) {


The interpretation of the URLs is as follows:

  • resource: prefix - interpreted as a resource path, returns resource from the resource store.

  • file: prefix with absolute path - interpreted as file path, returns resource created by Files.asResource that refers to file in the file system.

  • file: prefix with relative path (deprecated) - interpreted as a resource path, returns resource from the resource store.


  • Resources.fromURL( baseDirectory, "resource:images/image.png") - resource path

  • Resources.fromURL( baseDirectory, "file:images/image.png") - resource path (deprecated)

  • Resources.fromURL( null, "/src/gis/cadaster/district.geopgk") - absolute file path (linux)

  • Resources.fromURL( baseDirectory, "D:\\gis\\cadaster\\district.geopkg") - absolute file path (windows)

  • Resources.fromURL( baseDirectory, "file:///D:/gis/cadaster/district.geopkg") - absolute file url (windows)

  • Resources.fromURL( baseDirectory, "") - null (external reference)


The Files facade provides methods for working with file objects, and one method of critical importace to the Resource API.


The Files.asResource(file) method creates a ResourceAdapter wrapper around an absolute file location. Allows the use of Resource API when working with content outside of the data directory. This is primary useful for writing test cases.



This method is deprecated along with File use, recommend use of Resources.fromURL (baseDirectory, url ) to obtain Resource.

The other key method is Files.url( baseDirectory, url) which is used to look up files based on a user provided URL (or path).

  • Files.url( null, "resource:styles/logo.svg") - internal url format restricted to data directory content

  • Files.url( null, "/src/gis/cadaster/district.geopgk") - absolute file path (linux)

  • Files.url( baseDirectory, "D:\\gis\\cadaster\\district.geopkg") - absolute file path (windows)

  • Files.url( baseDirectory, "file:///D:/gis/cadaster/district.geopkg") - absolute file url (windows)

  • Files.url( baseDirectory, "") - null (external reference ignored as we cannot determine a file)

  • Files.url( baseDirectory, "sde://user:pass@server:port") - null (custom strings are ignored as we cannot determine a file)


GeoServerDataDirectory is a special ResourceStore allowing the use of catalog configuration objects to act as a reference point (rather than having to remember the structure of the data directory).

Resource icon = dataDirectory.get( workspaceInfo, "airports.svg");

GeoServerDataDirectory has plenty of methods that still provide direct file access, internally however they are implemented using the Resource API.

public File findDataRoot() throws IOException {
    Resource directory = get("data");


The class GeoServerResourceLoader operates as a facade mimicking some of the early file based interaction in our codebase to help during the migration to the ResourceStore API.

The use of location parameters here can reference a relative location in the data directory, or an absolute file location on disk.

Each method here can be expressed using the utility classes:

// Using GeoServerResourceLoader to work with local file
File configuration = loader.createFile(location);
try (OutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(configuration)) {
    xstream.toXML(ogrConfiguration, out);

// Using Paths and Resources to work with local file
Resource resource = resources.get(Paths.convert(location));
File configuration = Resources.createNewFile(resource);
try (OutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(configuration)) {
  xstream.toXML(ogrConfiguration, out);

// Using Resource directly to work in clustered environment
Resource resource = resourceStore.get(Paths.convert(location));
try (OutputStream out = resource.out()) {
  xstream.toXML(ogrConfiguration, out);
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