Adding Java Management Extensions (JMX) Instrumentation to a Java Application

Expected duration: 60 minutes

The NetBeans JMX Wizard Module integrates JMX technology right into your workflow in the NetBeans IDE. This module allows you to quickly develop management applications, add management to existing applications, develop manager applications, and monitor the state of the Virtual Machine.

This tutorial shows you how to add management to an existing application (the NetBeans sample Anagrams Game application). You will first create a non-manageable Anagram Java Project. You will then use JMX Wizards to generate 90% of the management. Then you will implement the management behavior specific to the application. You will finally use the Run/Debug project with JConsole to visualize the Anagram MBeans.

Tutorial exercises

Content on this page applies to NetBeans IDE 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3


This tutorial assumes you have some basic knowledge of, or programming experience with, the following technologies.

You will also benefit from having some knowledge on Monitoring and Management for the Java Platform

Software Needed for the Tutorial

For this tutorial you need to have the following software installed on your computer:

Software or Resource Version Required
NetBeans IDE 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, Java version
Java Development Kit (JDK) version 6 or 7
JMX plugin Available from NetBeans Update Center
JConsole plugin Available from NetBeans Update Center

To install the JMX and JConsole plugins, choose Tools > Plugins and download the module from the NetBeans Update Center.


Exercise 1: Creating the NetBeans sample Anagram Game project

The goal of this exercise is to create a runnable Java Project. The Anagram game is a Swing Application that displays a scrambled word to the user and waits for the user to solve the anagram.

  1. Choose File > New Project (Ctrl-Shift-N).
  2. Select the Samples > Java category.
  3. Select the Anagram Game project. Click Next.
  4. In the Project Name and Location panel, set the project location or keep the default value if it suits you. Select "Set as Main Project" checkbox if not selected because it will make subsequent actions easier. Click Finish.

    When you click Finish the IDE creates the Anagram Game project and displays the project in the Projects window.

  5. Right-click the AnagramGame project and select Properties.
  6. Select the Sources category and confirm that the Source/Binary format is set to JDK 6 or JDK 7. Click OK.

    Note. To select JDK 6 or JDK 7, the Java Platform for the AnagramGame project must also be at least JDK 6 or JDK 7, respectively. You can change the Java Platform for the AnagramGame in the Libraries category in the Properties window.

  7. Right-click the Anagram Game project node and choose Run.

When you choose Run, the IDE builds and launches the Anagram Game application.

Exercise 2: Creating the AnagramsStats JMX Standard MBean and its Management interface

The goal of this exercise is to create a skeleton JMX Standard MBean, which is composed of its implementation class and its management interface.

Perform the following steps to create the JMX Standard MBean.

  1. Confirm that the Anagram Game project is set as the main project.
  2. Choose File > New File (Ctrl-N).
  3. From the JMX category, select Standard MBean. Click Next.
    screenshot of Standard MBean file type in New File Wizard
  4. Enter the following information Name and Location panel:
    create_mbean2: create new Standard MBean, step 2
  5. Click Finish.

When you click Finish the AnagramsStats MBean class and AnagramsStatsMBean MBean interface are generated in the com.toy.anagrams.mbeans package of the AnagramGame project. These are now several empty skeletons that you will populate in the next exercise.

Exercise 3: Adding attributes, operation and notification to the AnagramsStats JMX Standard MBean

The goal of this exercise is to populate the generated MBean skeleton, so that it monitors the time spent by the user to solve a new anagram and a JMX notification is sent each time an anagram is solved.

The MBean will contain the following:

Perform the following steps to populate the MBean skeleton.

  1. Open the MBean implementation file in the NetBeans editor.
  2. Right-click in the source editor and select JMX > Add MBean Attributes in the popup menu.
  3. Add the LastThinkingTime attribute by clicking the Add Attribute button and supplying the following information.

    Note. Do not click OK yet!

  4. Click Add Attribute again and add the following NumSolvedAnagrams attribute. Click OK.
    create_mbean7: Add LastThinkingTime attribute

    The necessary code to expose the read only LastThinkingTime and NumSolvedAnagrams attributes is generated in both the AnagramsStats MBean class and its interface.

    You can see the private fields declaration and the public getter methods. More precisely, looking at the members view and at the generated code, you will notice that the getLastThinkingTime and getNumSolvedAnagrams methods are generated both in the AnagramsStats class and in its AnagramsStatsMBean interface. The private fields lastThinkingTime and numSolvedAnagrams of type int were also generated and will be used to store the actual attribute values.

    Next you will add three more attributes to keep track of the minimum and maximum thinking time the user took, and of the current anagram being proposed to the user.

  5. Right-click in the source editor and select JMX > Add MBean Attributes in the popup menu.
  6. Click the Add Attribute button and add the following attributes.
    Attribute Name Type Access Description
    MinThinkingTime int ReadOnly Minimum elapsed time to solve an anagram
    MaxThinkingTime int ReadOnly Maximum elapsed time to solve an anagram
    CurrentAnagram String ReadOnly Current anagram to solve

    The dialog box should be similar to the following image.

    Screenshot of Add Attribute dialog after adding 3 more attributes

    Note. Notice that the attributes that you already created are listed in the dialog box.

  7. Click OK and save your changes.
  8. Right-click in the source editor and select JMX > Add MBeans Operations in the popup menu.
  9. Click Add Operation and add the resetAll() operation and specify the following details. Click OK.
    Screenshot of Add Operation dialog

    After you click OK you can see that the necessary code to expose the resetAll operation was generated in both the AnagramsStats MBean class and its interface.

  10. Right-click in the source editor and select the JMX > Implement NotificationEmitter interface in the popup menu.
  11. Specify the following details in the Implement NotificationEmitter interface dialog box.
    Screenshot of Implement NotificationEmitter dialog

    Click OK.

    You can see that the necessary code to implement the NotificationEmitter interface was generated in the AnagramsStats MBean class. You can see how the generated implementation delegates the handling of notifications to the NotificationBroadcasterSupport class.

  12. Save your changes.

In this exercise you learned how to add attributes, operations and notifications emission to an MBean using the JMX Wizard module. The steps needed to populate your MBean with the necessary infrastructure to expose the management information you want are now finished. You now need to add internal logic to the AnagramsStats MBean class implementation, then build the bridge between the MBean and the Anagram Game application.

Exercise 4: Adding implementation code to the AnagramsStats JMX Standard MBean

In this exercise you will add some internal logic to the AnagramsStats MBean class implementation.

Perform the following steps to add the implementation code.

  1. The attributes already have their private fields declared, and nothing needs to be added to their getter methods.
  2. The resetAll() method needs to be implemented. The generated body is empty. When resetAll() is called, we simply set all counters to 0. Add the following lines of code (in bold) in the resetAll() method body:
    public void resetAll() {
        minThinkingTime = 0;
        maxThinkingTime = 0;
        lastThinkingTime = 0;
        numSolvedAnagrams = 0;
  3. You also need to add some implementation code that will do the following:

    For that purpose you will add a private field startTime to store the time at which the last anagram was presented to the user, two methods startThinking() and stopThinking() to perform the operations listed above, and a setCurrentAnagram() method.

    Add the following code to, e.g. at the end of the class implementation.

     * Methods exposed to Anagrams application to feed management with data.
    //Stores the time at which a new anagram is proposed to the user.
    private long startTime;
     * A new Anagram is proposed to the user: store current time.
    public void startThinking() {
        startTime = System.currentTimeMillis();
     * An Anagram has been resolved.
    public void stopThinking() {
        //Update the number of resolved anagrams
        // Compute last, min and max thinking times
        lastThinkingTime = (int) (System.currentTimeMillis() - startTime) / 1000 ;
        minThinkingTime = (lastThinkingTime < minThinkingTime || minThinkingTime == 0) ?
                          lastThinkingTime :
        maxThinkingTime = (lastThinkingTime > maxThinkingTime) ?
                          lastThinkingTime :
        //Create a JMX Notification
        Notification notification = new Notification(AttributeChangeNotification.ATTRIBUTE_CHANGE,
                "Anagram solved: " + currentAnagram);
        // Send a JMX notification.
     * Set latest anagram which has been computed by the Anagram application
    public void setCurrentAnagram(String currentAnagram) {
        this.currentAnagram = currentAnagram;

    Note that the three methods startThinking(), stopThinking() and setCurrentAnagram() are not part of the MBean management interface, because they are not declared in the AnagramsStatsMBean interface, but they are public because they will be called by the Anagram Game application to tell the MBean each time that a new anagram is presented to the user and when it is solved, and which is the current anagram. So, they are a necessary part of the bridge between the application and our MBean.

    Notice also how a JMX notification of type ATTRIBUTE_CHANGE is sent each time an anagram is solved.

You are now done with the MBean implementation. In this section you added code and methods to allow the following:

Exercise 5: Connecting Management and the Application Together

In this exercise, we will add code to the Anagram Game application so that it can access the MBean to pass management information.

Perform the following steps to

  1. Open in the editor.

    The Anagrams class in the com.toy.anagrams.ui package is the main class of the Anagram Game application. The file opens in the Editor's Design view because the Anagrams class is also the User Interface class.

  2. Click the Source button at the top of the Editor window to edit the class in the Source view.
  3. Add the following empty initManagement() private method to the Anagrams class: after the Anagrams constructor.
     * JMX initialization:
     * Create and register Anagrams MBean in Platform MBeanServer.
     * Initialize thinking time and current anagram.
    private void initManagement() throws Exception {
  4. Add the following call to the initManagement() method at the end of the Anagrams class constructor before the enclosing curly brace marking the end of the constructor.
    //JMX Management initialization

    You also need to add a throws Exception clause to the Anagrams() constructor and to the Main() method declarations for your code to compile.

    Here is what you should see at this stage [click to view larger image]:

    instrument_anagram1: adding initManagement()
  5. We now add the MBean registration code to the initManagement() method, using the JMX Module MBean registration wizard:

    In the source editor window, right-click inside the initManagement() method body, select the JMX submenu and then the "Generate MBean Registration..." action. In the "Instantiate and Register MBean" panel that shows up, keep the "Register Existing MBean" radio-button selected, click the Browse button, choose the AnagramsStats MBean class and click OK in the Browse panel. You should now see:

    create_mbean_registration: Generate MBean Registration code

    No need to change the automatically specified MBean Object Name and Constructor. Click OK, and you will see the generated MBean registration code in the initManagement() method body.

    Best practice for naming your MBeans

    Applying best practices will make the way you name your MBeans more formalized.

    So, the ObjectName created by default in our case above is: com.toy.anagrams.mbeans:type=AnagramsStats

    In the context of this tutorial, an extra step is required. You want the application to have access to the class implementing the management interface (AnagramsStats). This is not a general rule but it can be useful when your application needs to push data to an MBean. In this case, the startThinking(), stopThinking() and setCurrentAnagram() methods are not management methods but are used by the Anagrams Game application to notify the MBean that some events have occured. In turn, the MBean updates its state. In order to make AnagramsStats accessible from the Anagrams UI class, we need the Anagrams class to keep a direct reference to the instance of the AnagramsStats MBean.

    Therefore, you need to make the following changes to the code of the file.

  6. Add the following private field to the Anagrams class.
        // Reference to the AnagramsStats MBean
        private AnagramsStats mbean;
  7. Initialize the reference to the AnagramsStats MBean in the initManagement() method by modifying the generated MBean Registration code so that it reads:
    private void initManagement() throws Exception {
        try { // Register MBean in Platform MBeanServer
             mbean = new AnagramsStats();
                    new ObjectName("com.toy.anagrams.mbeans:type=AnagramsStats"));
        } catch (JMException ex) {
  8. Initialize the AnagramsStats MBean state: when the Anagrams Game application starts up, an anagram is immediately displayed, so we need to pass to the MBean the anagram string value and to start computing thinking time. Copy and paste the lines below at the end of the initManagement() method:
           // When the Anagrams game is first displayed, a word is proposed to the user.
           // We must start time computing and set the current anagram

    Here is what you should see at this stage [click to view larger image]:

    instrument_anagram1: adding initManagement()

    You now need to add code to track the user's anagram solving experience.

  9. Locate the nextTrialActionPerformed() method and paste the following code at the end of the nextTrialActionPerformed() method.
        //Update management statistics and values
        try {
            } catch (Exception e) {e.printStackTrace();}

    Each time that a new anagram is proposed to the user, the code tells the MBean which anagram it is and to start counting the user thinking time.

  10. Locate the guessedWordActionPerformed() method and add the following lines to the code. Save your changes.
        //Update management stats
        try {
        } catch(Exception e) {e.printStackTrace();}

    The stopThinking() method in the MBean is called each time that an anagram is guessed correctly.

    You should now see the following in the editor [click to view larger image]:

    instrument_anagram3: call MBean methods

You have now finished linking the JMX management layer to the application layer. In the next section you will build and run the Anagrams Game application and look at the exposed management information through the JConsole GUI.

Exercise 6: Running the Application with JConsole

In this exercise, you will learn how to build and run your project, and connect JConsole to visualize the JVM state, as well as the application MBeans.

Perform the following steps to run the application and view the management information.

  1. A single step performs these three tasks: simply click the "Run Main Project with Monitoring and Management" button in the toolbar (  Run Main Project with Monitoring and Management button in the toolbar)

    You can also invoke the action from the Run menu in the main menu.

    Note. The first time that you build and run the application the IDE displays a warning dialog that informs you that the build.xml files will be updated. You can click OK in the dialog.

    screenshot of warning dialog

    You can follow the execution in the Output window.

    screenshot of Output window

    The IDE will build and launch the Anagram game and will automatically open the JConsole window.

    screenshot of Anagram Game
  2. Select the MBeans tab in the JConsole window.
  3. In the tree layout in the left pane, expand all the nodes under com.toy.anagrams.mbeans.
    screenshot of MBeans tab showing AnagramsStats node
  4. Select the Notifications node and click on the Subscribe button at the bottom so that JConsole will receive a new notification each time an anagram is solved.
  5. In the Anagrams Game window, and solve the first three or four anagrams.

    The solutions to the anagrams (abstraction, ambiguous, arithmetic, backslash,...) are contained in the WordLibrary class.

  6. In the JConsole window, and notice that it received notifications for each of the solutions.
    screenshot of MBeans tab showing AnagramsStats node
  7. Click on the Attributes node and notice the attributes values are updated:
    screenshot of MBeans tab showing AnagramsStats node

    You can experiment with the JConsole interface and the Anagrams Game. For example, if you invoke the management operation resetAll() you will see that the MBean attribute values are reset to 0.

And now, you are done! You did a really good job, congratulations!

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See Also

For more information, see the following: