JBoss.org Community Documentation

3.2.2. Class Loading and Types in Java

Class loading is a fundamental part of all server architectures. Arbitrary services and their supporting classes must be loaded into the server framework. This can be problematic due to the strongly typed nature of Java. Most developers know that the type of a class in Java is a function of the fully qualified name of the class. However the type is also a function of the java.lang.ClassLoader that is used to define that class. This additional qualification of type is necessary to ensure that environments in which classes may be loaded from arbitrary locations would be type-safe.

However, in a dynamic environment like an application server, and especially JBoss with its support for hot deployment are that class cast exceptions, linkage errors and illegal access errors can show up in ways not seen in more static class loading contexts. Let's take a look at the meaning of each of these exceptions and how they can happen.