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How to create Eclipse plug-ins from Java libraries (JAR files) - Tutorial

Lars Vogel

Version 1.3


Converting standard Java libraries to Eclipse plug-ins

This article describes the manual process of converting a Java library to an Eclipse plug-ins (OSGi bundles) from standard Java libraries delivered as JAR files. This article is based on Eclipse 4.5.

Table of Contents

1. JAR files without OSGi meta-data
2. Integrating external jars / third party libraries
2.1. Creating a plug-in project for your jar
2.2. Using the new plug-in project
3. Convert JAR files to OSGi bundles with Gradle
4. About this website
5. Links and Literature
5.1. vogella GmbH training and consulting support

1. JAR files without OSGi meta-data

If a JAR file does not contain the OSGi meta-data in the META-INF/MANIFEST.MF file, it cannot be directly consumed by other Eclipse plug-ins.

If you want to use such standard Java libraries in other Eclipse plug-ins you have to convert them also into a plug-in. After the conversion the resulting JAR file can still be used in a non OSGi runtime, e.g., a Java webserver. The Java runtime ignores the additional OSGi meta-data.

Eclipse provides a wizard to convert a JAR file with OSGi meta-data to a plug-in. The usage of this wizard is demonstrated in Section 2, “Integrating external jars / third party libraries”.


If you repackage a JAR into a plug-in it is wise to check if the license allows this. You should also try to contact the author of the software and ask if he can integrate the OSGi meta-data directly in his library.

2. Integrating external jars / third party libraries

The following gives an example how to convert a standard Java JAR to an Eclipse plug-in.

2.1. Creating a plug-in project for your jar

Create a new plug-in project by selecting FileNewProjectPlug-in DevelopmentPlug-in from Existing JAR Archives.

Add the JAR files you want to have in this new plug-in. Press next.

Enter a name and a version for your new plug-in. Uncheck the Unzip the JAR archive into the project flag. Unchecking this flag prevents that the class files are extracted from the JAR file which is not necessary to use them.

Afterwards press the Finish button in the wizard.

You have created a new plug-in for the selected JAR files. Open the file MANIFEST.MF and validate that all required packages are exported on the tab Runtime. All the packages from your JAR files should be included in the exported packages as OSGi will otherwise prevent other plug-ins from accessing them.

2.2. Using the new plug-in project

In the plug-in project which should access the library, open the MANIFEST.MF file and select the Dependencies tab. Add the new plug-in as dependency.

3. Convert JAR files to OSGi bundles with Gradle

You can also use the Gradle build system to convert JARs to OSGi bundles. For example, the following build.gradle file converts the EasyMock library and its dependencies to OSGi bundles. Under the hood, it uses the bnd tooling.

buildscript {
  repositories {
  dependencies {
    classpath 'org.standardout:bnd-platform:1.2.0'

apply plugin: 'org.standardout.bnd-platform'

repositories {

platform {
        // eclipseHome only required for the "updateSite" task
  eclipseHome = new File('/home/vogella/dev/eclipse46-2016-01-25/eclipse')
  // list of JARs to convert to OSGi
  bundle "org.powermock:powermock-easymock-release-full:1.6.1"

Run `gradle bundles` to create OSGi bundles from the specified JAR files. Use the `gradle updateSite` task to create a p2 update site.

For more details see

4. About this website

5. Links and Literature

5.1. vogella GmbH training and consulting support

The vogella company provides comprehensive training and education services from experts in the areas of Eclipse RCP, Android, Git, Java, Gradle and Spring. We offer both public and inhouse training. Whichever course you decide to take, you are guaranteed to experience what many before you refer to as “The best IT class I have ever attended”. The vogella company offers expert consulting services, development support and coaching. Our customers range from Fortune 100 corporations to individual developers.