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Property files are used for configuration during the startup sequence before the repository is available. These properties configure the instance for a particular use (such as a development or production environment) and set various system directories. Once the startup sequence is completed and the repository is available, the majority of configuration is done in the config workspace in the repository.

Properties are not stored in a single property file but come from multiple sources. These sources are processed or parsed in this order:

 SourceLocationPath / Example
1Bean propertiesmagnolia-core.jar/
2.Module propertiesModule descriptor
3.Global file propertiesweb applicationWEB-INF/config/
4.Default file propertiesweb applicationWEB-INF/config/default/
5.Web application file propertiesweb applicationWEB-INF/config/(webapp)/
6.Server file propertiesweb applicationWEB-INF/config/(servername)/
7.Web application at server file propertiesweb applicationWEB-INF/config/(servername)/(webapp)/
8.System properties

JVM options (-Dx=y)

Existing properties will be overridden by available System properties

Sources processed earlier may be overridden by sources processed later. The processing order and distribution of properties into several sources allows for flexible customization.

Some important properties set in the default file:

# Repository configuration
magnolia.repositories.config = WEB-INF/config/default/repositories.xml
magnolia.repositories.home = $\{\}/repositories
magnolia.repositories.jackrabbit.config = WEB-INF/config/repo-conf/jackrabbit-bundle-derby-search.xml

# Defining the instance as author instance
# Only used for the initial installation.
# Afterwards configuration in the config repository is used.
# The value is saved in /server/admin

# Switch to false to enhance the performance of Javascript generation

# Set to true if bootstrapping/update should be performed automatically

(info) is set programmatically during Magnolia start-up. Its value depends on the servlet container and on the environment, for instance on a production Tomcat it would be something like /some-path/some-tomcat/webapps.

Multiple configurations on a single Web application archive

Default properties are common regardless of the server name or webapp name. Webapp specific properties are installed only if the webapp name matches. Correspondingly, server specific properties are only installed if the server name matches. For example, Magnolia ships with two webapps by default: magnoliaAuthor and magnoliaPublic.

It is possible to set a different persistence manager per environment. For example, on the development instance you could use the default embedded Derby database, whilst on production you could use a production-scale persistent storage such as a MySQL database.

See WAR file with multiple configurations for more on this topic.

The MySQL InnoDB storage engine is supported by Magnolia, the MyISAM engine is not. InnoDB is the default engine in MySQL 5.5 and later.


The structure and the order of source execution allows you to provide sophisticated configurations and flexible customization. The default Magnolia configuration (delivered in the web application bundle) provides an example of how the mechanism works:

  • WEB-INF/config/default/
  • WEB-INF/config/magnoliaAuthor/
  • WEB-INF/config/magnoliaPublic/

Magnolia provides a single web application which configures itself depending on the servlet context it is installed in. If your environment has multiple staging systems with differing configuration needs, you can apply different configurations by adding a server name to each of the listed paths.

For complex environments, the order of loading files can be defined in WEB-INF/web.xml as a context-param element:


Defining properties

Properties can be accessed through the static methods of the info.magnolia.cms.core.SystemProperty class.

If not stated otherwise, a property is available in any 5.4.x version of Magnolia.

(Version availability)

default is WEB-INF/config/default/log4j.xml

Name of a log4j config file. Can be a .properties or .xml file. The value can be:

  • a full path
  • a path relative to the webapp root
  • a file name which will be loaded from the classpath

default is WEB-INF/bootstrap/author WEB-INF/bootstrap/common

Directory containing XML files for initialization of a blank Magnolia instance. If no content is found in any of the repositories, they are initialized by importing the XML files found in this folder. If you don't want to let Magnolia initialize repositories automatically then remove this parameter.


default is ${magnolia.home}/cache

Directory used for cached pages.


default is admin

Password for repository connection.


default is admin

User ID for repository connection.

default is ${magnolia.home}/history

History directory used for activation.


default is WEB-INF/config/default/repositories.xml

Repository configuration, points to an XML file.

magnolia.repositories.jackrabbit.cluster.masterrequired if you have any clustered workspaces in your project

default is false

Identifies the instance as a cluster master node. During installation and update Magnolia bootstraps content only into master nodes. This ensures that other (replica) nodes installed later don't override already bootstrapped content.

Example: Public instance A is defined as a cluster master node. The instance starts and creates a clustered forum workspace and bootstraps some content such as rules of conduct. Second public instance B is defined as a replica node. It starts moments later but does not bootstrap the same workspace again.

  • true defines the instance is a cluster master node. Content is bootstrapped into the repository.
  • false defines the instance as a cluster replica node. Content is not bootstrapped into the repository.

default is ${magnolia.home}/tmp

Temporary directory for uploaded files.

default is ${magnolia.home}/WEB-INF/config/default/

Location of private and public keys used for activation.


default is true

Sets an instance as author (true) or public (false).


default is true

Some modules contain optional sample content. They will check this property to decide if they should install the content.

List of component class names to be excluded from component instantiation. Separate class names with white space (space, tab) or commas.


default is false

magnolia.develop is a configuration property that can be set to true in a file for development purposes, specifically to:

  • Enable ClasspathScanner when developing via IDE and changing or deploying edited classpath based resources.
  • Disable the cache for resources.
  • Disable the cache for FreeMarker template files. FreeMarker files are cached for 5 seconds when requested by default.

Set to false on production instances.


default is ${}

Root of the webapp's deployment directory.


default is false

Enables support for JSR-250 annotations. Magnolia uses the @PostConstruct annotation in methods that need to be executed after dependency injection is done to perform any initialization. Enabling JSR-250 support impacts performance.


default is ${magnolia.home}/logs

Directory where logs are written.


default is false

Turns off migration report generation to speed up the migration process. Set to true to generate reports.


default is ${magnolia.home}/repositories

Repository home directory.


default is WEB-INF/config/repo-conf/jackrabbit-bundle-derby-search.xml

Jackrabbit configuration file. See the repo-conf directory for configuration files for other persistence managers such as MySQL, PostgreSQL and Ingres.


Jackrabbit configuration file for a clustered repository.

(warning) Always define the cluster.config and cluster.master properties together if any of your workspaces are clustered.

((warning) 5.4.4+)

default is   .*\\.(ftl|yaml)$

Pattern to define which resources should be observed by ClasspathScanner

The default pattern above observes any file names that end in .ftl and .yaml


default is ${magnolia.home}

Defines the directory from which filesystem resources such as light modules are loaded in a Magnolia instance.

((warning) 5.4.5+)

default is META-INF,WEB-INF,cache,docroot,logs,repositories,tmp

list of excluded resource directories in FileSystemResourceOrigin


((warning) 5.4.7+)

default is high

The sensitivity (speed) with which the changes of the resources in the magnolia.resources.dir are observed by the DirectoryWatcherService.

Possible values: low, medium, high. For development purposes on OSX it is recommended to set the property to high.


default is false

Set to true if bootstrapping and update should be performed automatically after installation. This means the system won't wait for the user to start the update manually.


default is false

Activate UTF-8 support for pages.


default is set in set in Jackrabbit configuration file

The ID of the JCR cluster instance.

When setting the value in, it overrides the value set in the Jackrabbit configuration file; this allows using a single configuration file for all the cluster instances.

In addition to these examples you can define arbitrary properties (magnolia.home is one example).


Properties can be used to prefixother path-like properties. For example, in magnolia.cache.startdir=${magnolia.home}/cache the property magnolia.cache.startdir is set by substituting the root directory with property magnolia.home. See WAR file with multiple configurations on how to use properties to target a deployment environment.

Extending configuration

You can extend a configuration by defining an extends property and setting its value to the source configuration you want it to inherit. The target configuration inherits everything from the source and adds its own exceptions. This can save time and effort as you only need to define exceptions explicitly. The mechanism is only available in the config repository.

In the example below, the sportstation site definition extends the travelsite definition. The definition inherits all configuration from the travel configuration and adds its own domains, internationalization and URI-to-repository mappings, theme and templates. The extends property can point to the source configuration with an absolute or relative path.

Node nameValue




















Extending is additive by default, which means that configuration specified at the extending level is added to the inherited configuration. Setting the extends property to override changes this behavior. An override allows the extending node to completely remove the inherited content and replace it with its own content entries. In the example below, the travel site definition supports two locales, en (English) and de (German), whereas site travel-fr is targeted to French speakers only.

The French site extends travel. It inherits all configuration except the locales. An override under the locales node removes en and de. Only the French locale fr defined at this level is applied. This means that authors can enter only French content on the French site.

Node nameValue








































Observation is a feature of the Java Content Repository that enables applications to register interest in events that describe changes to a workspace. The applications can then monitor and respond to those events. The observation mechanism dispatches events when a persistent change is made to the workspace. Magnolia uses observation heavily. For instance, observation is used to reload module configurations and to reload all objects provided by the FactoryUtil. To use observation you must at least specify the workspace, the path to the node which should be observed, and an event listener. The event listener's onEvent() method is called whenever there are changes in the observed node.

Magnolia provides a helper class to assist you in using observation for your project. Use WorkspaceEventListenerRegistrationObservationUtil is deprecated since Magnolia 5.4.6.


Most configuration is stored in the config workspace. To transfer the repository stored configuration into a Java object, a mechanism called Node2Bean is used. Node2Bean populates a Java Bean from the content of a repository node including sub nodes. Note that configuration details are not restricted to the config node. The following table shows where the Node2Bean mechanism is currently used.

Where it is usedWhat is configured
Basic server configuration: instance type (author, public), default base URL and default extension
Mapping virtual URIs to pages.
Filter chain
Messages for localized labels and descriptions in the UI.
Commands and command catalogs.
Module definitions
Builds a component configured in the repository.
Guice Provider that creates an object by reading it from the repository.
RendererProvider that instantiates a renderer from a configuration node.
TemplateDefinitionProvider that instantiates a template from a configuration node.

For developers, module configuration (ModuleManagerlmpl) using the module class is the most important current usage of Content2Bean.

Node2Bean in module instances

Module configuration data is transferred into a Bean from /modules/<module name>/config. The Bean class to build is defined in the module descriptor XML file.

<!DOCTYPE module SYSTEM "module.dtd">
    <displayName>Magnolia Samples Module </displayName>

Components. If a path in the config workspace is given rather than a concrete class name, then Node2Bean is used to build the component instance.

# Map to a path in the config workspace
info.magnolia.cms.i18n.I18nContentSupport = /server/i18n/content

Additional items such as components, templates and virtual URI mappings are configured at module level.

Data types

Node2Bean analyses the bean's "setter" and "adder" methods using introspection and uses them if a suitable configuration value is available. With "adder" methods (using the singular form of the node names) you can populate collections and maps. With this mechanism, Node2Bean can support all possible data types:

  • Simple data types like String, int, long, float, double, boolean (to specify "true" you can use "true", TRUE", or "1") with the suitable "setter" method
  • Other data types matching the "setter" method's signature
  • Collections with String values or other data types by specifying a class property
  • Maps with keys and values as Strings or other data types by specifying a class property

All sub elements are also built using Node2Bean.


The class used to instantiate an object through the Node2Bean mechanism is determined through reflection or by explicitly referencing a class in the class node data. By referencing a specific class you can override Magnolia default configuration and implement your own caching behavior, security mechanism and so on.

Numbered items:

  1. config: Entry point of the transformation. In the module descriptor SampleConfig class is used. Set text and number properties.
  2. sub: Subbean. The class is determined using reflection if it is not explicitly defined.
  3. items: Collection. The corresponding add method is used to determine the class and populate the collection if existing.
  4. item2: Special item with its own class and additional properties.
  5. parameters: Collection of key-value pairs.

Simple data types

Values with simple data types must be defined as properties. Each property name must match its respective setter method.


To configure a collection you have to create a sub node and a suitable "setter" method:

  • All properties of the collection node will create simple String entries in the collection. The properties' names are not used by Node2Bean, only the values.
  • All sub nodes of the collection node will be treated as objects of the type specified in the class property in the sub node. If no class attribute is specified, a Map will be created instead. The sub nodes' names are not used by Node2Bean.
  • All sub nodes of the collection node will be treated as maps unless they have a ".". The properties' names and the sub nodes' names are not used by Node2Bean.


The rules to populate a map are the same as with collections, except that the properties' names and the sub nodes' names are used as key values.

Example: cache configuration

The configuration creates an object of type CacheConfiguration This class needs public suitable setter or adder methods.

 public void setCachePolicy(CachePolicy cachePolicy);
    public void setFlushPolicy(FlushPolicy flushPolicy);
    public void setBrowserCachePolicy(BrowserCachePolicy browserCachePolicy);
    public void setExecutors(Map executors);
    public void addExecutor(String name, CachePolicyExecutor executor);

Note that all necessary setters are available. For the executors node there are setter and adder methods. As the adder is more specific the setExecutors method will not be used.

Node nameValue

















This is what happens with setCachePolicy(CachePolicy cachePolicy).

Node nameValue





















Since there is a class property defined, let's look at the Default class that Node2Bean uses to create the new object.

public void setVoters(VoterSet voters);

Now let's have a look at the addExecutor (String name, CachePolicyExecutor executor) method in CacheConfiguration and the configuration:

Node nameValue











As this method has two arguments, the node name bypass is passed as the first argument and a Bypass object as the second argument. Because CachePolicyExecutor is an interface, the implementing class is specified.


Voters are used in Magnolia whenever configuration values are not assigned at startup but instead depend on rules. For example the cache module has to determine if a requested resource may be cached or not. The rules to determine values should be configurable. The rules are user-defined using voters which evaluate established criteria by determining true or false of each rule. Voters are currently used for:

  • Filter configuration: uses voters to determine whether a filter should be executed or bypassed.
  • Cache configuration: uses voters to determine whether a file should be cached or not.

The basic concept of voters uses Voter classes which calculate an int vote value, where positive (1, 2, 3, ...) results are treated as "yes" or "true" and (0, -1, -2, ...) results are treated as "no" or "false". If you have a set of voters, then the result of a voting is the largest absolute result. If there are two voters with the same absolute result, then the one with the higher positive value will be taken.


Vote resultsVoterSet result
-3, 0, 2-3
-3, 0, 33
-3, 0, 44

For most of the "real world" voters only boolean results make sense. These boolean voters return "1" for a "true" and "0" for a "false" result.

Voter examples

noneYesChecks if the current user is authenticated.
  • allow: comma separated lists of allowed extensions.
  • deny: comma separated lists of denied extensions.
  • Returns false if the extension is not a valid mimetype (as configured in config:/server/MIMEMapping.
  • Returns false if the allow list exists, but the extension is not in the allow list.
  • Returns false if the deny list exists and the extension is in the deny list.
  • Returns true in any other cases.

For further information, please see the voters package summary.