Getting the full maven project classpath

 20 Feb 2014


I’m working on some vim plugins that will help with java coding and in the process of doing so I realized that most of my issues would be solved if I had a text file that lists all of the classes available in my project’s class path. I want to include:

  • All of my projects classes
  • All classes included as maven dependencies
  • All classes included by the JRE

I was hoping to code a feature that generated this file from a maven plugin. So far it’s working pretty well but until I finish the editor plugins I don’t want to release it. I have finished figuring out how to get all of the classpath info that I needed.

Maven Classpath

The classpath information for my project and all of my dependencies is easily gotten from the MavenProject object.

In this code, I get the MavenProject object via the @Parameter annotation and then I use it to grab the test classpath. The test classpath includes the classpath for runtime, compile and test scopes which works for what I want. This also contains both my project and all maven dependencies killing two birds with one stone.

Java Boot Classpath

The next step is getting JRE classes. These aren’t listed in the normal java classpath at all, but can be found from the sun.boot.class.path system property.

Java Ext Classpath

The last place to check is the JRE extension folders. The java.ext.dirs system property contains a list of directories that contain jar files. None of my system’s had child directories so I didn’t code to support them here. If someone can point me to docs saying that you can nest directories let me know!

Sample Code

This is some sample code from my plugin showing how to access all of these locations:

@Parameter(property = "project", readonly = true, required = true)
private MavenProject project;

 * This will return a list of all classpath elements
 * from my project all all dependencies
public List<String> getMavenClasspathElements() {
  return project.getTestClasspathElements();

 * This will return all of the classpath elements from
 * the JRE boot classpath
public List<String> getBootClasspathElements() {
  return Arrays.asList(System.getProperty("sun.boot.class.path").split(";"));

public static final PathMatcher JARMATCHER = FileSystems.getDefault().getPathMatcher("glob:*.jar");

 * This will return all of the classpath elements from
 * the JRE extension directories
public List<String> getExtClasspathElements() {
  List<String> elements = new HashSet();

  String[] dirs = System.getProperty("java.ext.dirs").split(";");
  for(String dir: dirs) {
    File dirFile = new File(dir);
    if(dirFile.exists() && dirFile.isDirectory()) {
      File[] files = dirFile.listFiles();
      for(File file: files) {
        Path path = FileSystems.getDefault().getPath(file.getName());
        if(JARMATCHER.matches(path)) {

  return elements;