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PROSE (PROgrammable extenSions of sErvices)
Open Source Project

Adaptability to the dynamic nature of the computing environments is one of the biggest challenges for software engineering and has become an important feature in today’s modern systems, mobile and pervasive computing. Applications which execute in such environments need to adapt to changing settings they encounter during their active life time. They should be able to react and modify their behavior dynamically in response to changes in their execution environments, without being required to be preprogrammed with the software functionality needed for typical adaptations.

Our research work addresses this challenge. PROSE is an infrastructure that supports dynamic adaptation of applications by extending their functionality with new code (extensions) used to enhance, modify, or control the functionality already present in the application. The system performs controlled, systematic, and efficient modification of the code of running Java applications without requiring them to be shut down. Changes are composable, and may be reordered or selectively withdrawn at any time. The modifications are expressed as Java classes, providing additional development benefits.

Given the possibility to add and remove new functionality at an arbitrary point in time, it is important to know at any time what extensions are currently inserted into an application and what execution points they denote. For this purpose, PROSE provides powerful tools that allow the users to see how a given extension will affect the application behavior at runtime. Embedded into an Eclipse plug-in, the PROSE Development Tools for Eclipse allows runtime monitoring and adaptation of applications from Eclipse. The tools allow to monitor and modify the code of local and remote applications at runtime.

PROSE can be used for a wide range of purposes: program instrumentation and profiling, online debugging and logging, hotfixes and security patches, evolution of critical legacy applications, software adaptation in a number of applications including web servers, J2EE containers, and mobile computing. Furthermore, PROSE provides the infrastructure for a number of research projects exploring the use of PROSE for assuring application performance, enterprise applications, software evolution, and implementation of service migration.


Contact information

For more information, please contact Dr. Angela Nicoara, the leader of the PROSE project.

About the PROSE project

PROSE was one of the first platforms that tackled the problem of dynamic AOP. As a result, PROSE has evolved through a number of versions, each one of them based on different forms of interception and weaving.
  • The first version of PROSE used the Java Virtual Machine Debugger Interface (JVMDI) event notification mechanism to convert join-points into stop points. Once the application had been stopped, the advice was executed externally to the application although the advice had access to the context where it was being executed (e.g., stack frames, calling parameters for methods, etc.).
  • The second version of PROSE extended this model by giving the option of, instead of using the debugger, using the baseline JIT compiler. The idea was to weave hooks into the application at native code locations that correspond to all potential join-points. When executed, the hooks determine whether an advice needed to be invoked for that particular join-point and called the advice.
  • The new version of PROSE uses (a) an advice weaving strategy for method replacement join-points and (b) a stub weaving mechanism for join-points involving external advices. It implements adaptation by a novel mechanism based on dynamic bytecode instrumentation that supports method code replacement while an application is running. Modifications take the form of replacement method bodies, and can use both type-based and regular expression patterns to select code for replacement. New code can make use of replaced method implementations cleanly, facilitating code evolution. Changes are composable, and may be reordered or selectively withdrawn at any time. Integrated into an Eclipse plug-in, the PROSE Development Tools for Eclipse is used to develop and run applications inside Eclipse, as well as for standalone Java applications. It provides tools for creating, runtime monitoring and distributed visualization of remote extensions.
An important characteristic of PROSE is that these different weaving mechanisms are meant as alternatives. The idea is to mirror the flexibility offered by middleware platforms in which designers can choose different approaches depending on the type of application involved.


Invited Talks and Presentations

  • Angela Nicoara: Advanced Modification of the Code of Running Java Services - invited talk and demo. Presented at Samsung Information Systems America, San Jose, California, USA, April 2009.
  • Angela Nicoara: Advanced Performance Instrumentation and Debugging for Online Application Services - invited talk. Presented at Deutsche Telekom Inc., R&D Lab USA, Silicon Valley, California, USA, July 2008.
  • Angela Nicoara: Dynamic Code Replacement for Java Applications - invited talk and demo. Presented at the adhoc PES AG (adhoc Performance Engineering Solutions AG), Basel, Switzerland, January 2008.
  • Angela Nicoara, Gustavo Alonso: Making Applications Persistent at Run-time - talk and poster presentation.  Presented at the NCCR MICS 2007 Workshop, Neuchatel, Switzerland, July 2007.
  • Angela Nicoara, Gustavo Alonso: PROSE: A Software Infrastructure for Dynamic Adaptation - poster presentation. Presented at the NCCR MICS 2006 5th Scientific Conference, Zurich, Switzerland, October 2006.
  • Angela Nicoara, Gustavo Alonso: Dynamic AOP with PROSE - invited talk and poster presentation. Presented at the NCCR MICS 2005 Scientific Conference, Loewenberg, Switzerland, September 2005.
  • Angela Nicoara, Gustavo Alonso: PROSE - A Platform for Dynamic AOP - demo and poster presentation of a platform for dynamic aspect-oriented programming (d-AOP) based on Jikes Research Virtual Machine (RVM). Presented at the NCCR MICS 2004 Workshop, Zurich, Switzerland, July 2004.


PROSE is an Open Source project and can be downloaded from SourceForge.


  • Documentation about PROSE: system architecture, design, implementation, performance evaluation, programming runtime extensions, tools, PROSE Development Tools for Eclipse, and applications of PROSE can be found here.
  • Getting started with PROSE => PROSE User Manual.
    Note: A new version of the User Manual will be available soon on the project website.

Students that have contributed

Additional work has been done by Stephan Heinzer, Marius Buerki and Philipp Sieber. They worked on semester projects for integrating Lego Mindstorms with Java, and monitorisation and logging of controlled devices (based on Lego).


PROSE - SourceForge

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Department of Computer Science

IKS Research Group

Systems@ETH Zurich, Switzerland



PROSE on SourceForge
Looking for PROSE source code? Please click here.

PROSE Development Tools for Eclipse on SourceForge
Looking for PROSE Eclipse Plug-in? Please click here.
© Dr. Angela Nicoara - 2009 - Systems Group at ETH Zurich, Switzerland
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