8.6 Proxying mechanisms

Spring AOP uses either JDK dynamic proxies or CGLIB to create the proxy for a given target object. (JDK dynamic proxies are preferred whenever you have a choice).

If the target object to be proxied implements at least one interface then a JDK dynamic proxy will be used. All of the interfaces implemented by the target type will be proxied. If the target object does not implement any interfaces then a CGLIB proxy will be created.

If you want to force the use of CGLIB proxying (for example, to proxy every method defined for the target object, not just those implemented by its interfaces) you can do so. However, there are some issues to consider:

To force the use of CGLIB proxies set the value of the proxy-target-class attribute of the <aop:config> element to true:

<aop:config proxy-target-class="true">
    <!-- other beans defined here... -->
</aop:config>

To force CGLIB proxying when using the @AspectJ autoproxy support, set the 'proxy-target-class' attribute of the <aop:aspectj-autoproxy> element to true:

<aop:aspectj-autoproxy proxy-target-class="true"/>
[Note]Note

Multiple <aop:config/> sections are collapsed into a single unified auto-proxy creator at runtime, which applies the strongest proxy settings that any of the <aop:config/> sections (typically from different XML bean definition files) specified. This also applies to the <tx:annotation-driven/> and <aop:aspectj-autoproxy/> elements.

To be clear: using 'proxy-target-class="true"' on <tx:annotation-driven/>, <aop:aspectj-autoproxy/> or <aop:config/> elements will force the use of CGLIB proxies for all three of them.

8.6.1 Understanding AOP proxies

Spring AOP is proxy-based. It is vitally important that you grasp the semantics of what that last statement actually means before you write your own aspects or use any of the Spring AOP-based aspects supplied with the Spring Framework.

Consider first the scenario where you have a plain-vanilla, un-proxied, nothing-special-about-it, straight object reference, as illustrated by the following code snippet.

public class SimplePojo implements Pojo {

   public void foo() {
      // this next method invocation is a direct call on the 'this' reference
      this.bar();
   }
   
   public void bar() {
      // some logic...
   }
}

If you invoke a method on an object reference, the method is invoked directly on that object reference, as can be seen below.

public class Main {

   public static void main(String[] args) {
   
      Pojo pojo = new SimplePojo();
      
      // this is a direct method call on the 'pojo' reference
      pojo.foo();
   }
}

Things change slightly when the reference that client code has is a proxy. Consider the following diagram and code snippet.

public class Main {

   public static void main(String[] args) {
   
      ProxyFactory factory = new ProxyFactory(new SimplePojo());
      factory.addInterface(Pojo.class);
      factory.addAdvice(new RetryAdvice());

      Pojo pojo = (Pojo) factory.getProxy();
      
      // this is a method call on the proxy!
      pojo.foo();
   }
}

The key thing to understand here is that the client code inside the main(..) of the Main class has a reference to the proxy. This means that method calls on that object reference will be calls on the proxy, and as such the proxy will be able to delegate to all of the interceptors (advice) that are relevant to that particular method call. However, once the call has finally reached the target object, the SimplePojo reference in this case, any method calls that it may make on itself, such as this.bar() or this.foo(), are going to be invoked against the this reference, and not the proxy. This has important implications. It means that self-invocation is not going to result in the advice associated with a method invocation getting a chance to execute.

Okay, so what is to be done about this? The best approach (the term best is used loosely here) is to refactor your code such that the self-invocation does not happen. For sure, this does entail some work on your part, but it is the best, least-invasive approach. The next approach is absolutely horrendous, and I am almost reticent to point it out precisely because it is so horrendous. You can (choke!) totally tie the logic within your class to Spring AOP by doing this:

public class SimplePojo implements Pojo {

   public void foo() {
      // this works, but... gah!
      ((Pojo) AopContext.currentProxy()).bar();
   }
   
   public void bar() {
      // some logic...
   }
}

This totally couples your code to Spring AOP, and it makes the class itself aware of the fact that it is being used in an AOP context, which flies in the face of AOP. It also requires some additional configuration when the proxy is being created:

public class Main {

   public static void main(String[] args) {
   
      ProxyFactory factory = new ProxyFactory(new SimplePojo());
      factory.adddInterface(Pojo.class);
      factory.addAdvice(new RetryAdvice());
      factory.setExposeProxy(true);

      Pojo pojo = (Pojo) factory.getProxy();

      // this is a method call on the proxy!
      pojo.foo();
   }
}

Finally, it must be noted that AspectJ does not have this self-invocation issue because it is not a proxy-based AOP framework.