Across in a nutshell

An Across module

  • bundles technical or business domain functionality,

  • explicitly depends on zero or more other modules,

  • exposes components like services or repositories for other modules to use,

  • uses exposed components from other modules,

  • has zero or more installers taking care of things like initial data creation or schema migrations,

  • is a single Spring ApplicationContext.

An Across application

  • specifies the modules to use,

  • sets up common infrastructure (eg. the event bus),

  • ensures modules are ordered according to their dependencies and bootstrapped in that same order,

  • runs as a Spring Boot application.

Across applications force you to use the modular approach as much as possible.

Across is free and open source, published under an Apache 2.0 license.

Core concepts

At the heart of Across are a couple of concepts you should understand. The terms related tot these concepts are used throughout all Across documentation, consider them part of the Across DSL.


Across application

An Across application is an application built on top of Across modules. These can be shared Across modules and/or dynamic modules like the Across application module.

Across application module

The Across application module is a single special module in your application, it is the one containing your application specific logic. The application module is always considered to depend on all other “shared” modules, and as such is started as the last module (with the exception of possible specialized postprocessor modules).

Shared modules have an explicit module descriptor, whereas the application module has an implicit one that is derived from the name and package of the @AcrossApplication annotated class. The application module is determined using a convention-over-configuration approach, see the chapter on dynamic modules for more information.

Across context

The Across context is the set of configured modules that make up the application. There is a single configured Across context in an Across application.

The Across context represents a Spring ApplicationContext that is also the parent ApplicationContext of every module that belongs to the Across context. Usually the Across context itself has a parent ApplicationContext, for example the EmbeddedWebApplicationContext of a Spring Boot application.

You can configure the Across context using the @EnableAcrossContext annotation. When you use @AcrossApplication, this is already done behind the scenes. @AcrossApplication sets up a Spring Boot application with a single Across context.

In code, the Across context is represented as an instance of AcrossContext.


When referring to the Across application, we refer to the entire ApplicationContext hierarchy, including the Across context and all its optional parents. When referring to the Across context, we refer only to the ApplicationContext hierarchy of the individual Across modules and their direct parent.

Across module

An Across module bundles technical or business domain functionality, most often the latter. It represents a single Spring ApplicationContext that holds all the components the module defines and - optionally - makes these components available to other modules.

Across modules can depend on other modules. These dependencies will determine the relative order of a module versus other modules in the same application. A module will start (or ‘bootstrap’) after all the modules it depends on have already started. During the bootstrap phase a module can perform one or more initialization tasks through special installer components.

An Across application is usually made up of multiple Across modules. Most often a single Across module corresponds with a single JAR file, but this is in no way an actual requirement. Every Across module has a unique name, and a single module descriptor that describes the basic configuration of the module.

Module dependencies

Modules can depend on other modules. If module B depends on module A, B states explicitly that it wishes to make use of the functionality that A will provide. The module dependencies will determine the loading order of the modules in the configured Across context.

Modules have two types of dependencies on other modules:

Ordering of modules and components

The starting order of modules is determined at startup time by the dependency, and never changed after. It is used throughout an Across application and expected to be very reliable: if module B depends on A, the functionality will be available when A starts.

This ordering is often used by modules to allow other modules to build on top initial configuration that has been done. Events for example are also handled in order: if module B depends on A, A will handle an event before an event handler in B is called.


The Across bootstrap is the actual starting of the application. During the bootstrapping phase the entire Spring ApplicationContext hierarchy of an application is created.

First the initial Across context is started, which determines the modules to start and assigns them a fixed order based on their dependencies. Then the modules are started - bootstrapped - one after the other in the order assigned. Only when all modules have started is control given back to the (optional) parent ApplicationContext.

An AcrossContext is only successfully bootstrapped if all modules have bootstrapped successfully.

If an Across context is being shutdown, first the modules are stopped in reverse order before the actual Across context is closed.

Exposing beans

Exposing beans or components is making them available for other modules.

Module B can only use a service of module A if module A has explicitly exposed that service. A service is usually provided through one or more beans, so that means that module A must expose those beans to its owning Across context. If that has been done, beans from module B can simply wire the beans from module A directly. Exposing components is the means through which module collaboration is defined.

There are several ways to expose beans, but in most cases it is done by annotating the bean or its implementing class with @Exposed.

Refreshing beans

Sometimes it is not possible to define explicit dependencies between modules. For example where module B depends on module A but creates a bean that A should use. Because circular dependencies are not allowed the only solution for this would be to use either a lazy approach, or a refreshing mechanism.

Much like refreshing an ApplicationContext, once all modules in an Across context are started, a refresh is triggered that allows modules to perform actions.

As much as possible, dependencies should be explicit and one way only. The use of refresh is best to be kept to a minimum to have a clearer flow of control. Using events can sometimes be a better alternative.


An Across context creates a central event bus that every module has access to. Any bean can publish events on the bus, and special listeners can catch and handle the events published.

Using events is a common way for modules to provide extensions points to other modules, without forcing dependencies.


An Across module can define any number of installer components. Installers are special beans that will only exist:

  • during the bootstrapping of the Across context

  • if all conditions for the installers apply

Installers can be used to setup the necessary infrastructure for the services that a module provides. Common use cases for installers include:

  • installing a database schema

  • inserting (test) data

  • running migration tasks

Across itself provides the mechanism for defining installers and optimizing (conditional) installer execution.