Plexus Classworlds is a framework for container developers who require complex manipulation of Java's ClassLoaders. Java's native ClassLoader mechanisms and classes can cause much headache and confusion for certain types of application developers. Projects which involve dynamic loading of components or otherwise represent a 'container' can benefit from the classloading control provided by Classworlds.

Plexus Classworlds provides a richer set of semantics for class loading than Java's normal mechanisms, while still being able to provide a ClassLoader interface to integrate seamlessly with the Java environment.

The Classworlds model does away with the hierarchy normally associated with ClassLoaders. Instead, ClassWorld provides a pool of ClassRealms which can import arbitrary packages from other ClassRealms. Effectively, Classworlds turns the old-style hierarchy into a directed graph.

In a application container environment, the container may have a realm capable of loading on the container/component contract interfaces and classes. Another realm is created for each component which imports the contract classes from the container realm.

This model allows for fine-grained control of which classloader loads any particular class. This form of partial isolation can reduce the myriad strange errors that are produced by loading classes from multiple loaders.

In addition, Plexus Classworlds provides a launcher to assist in the creation of classloaders and ClassRealms from a configuration file and the launching of the application's main method from the correct class loaded through the correct classloader.

And for seamless transition from older Classworlds up to 1.1, Plexus Classworlds provides a compatibility layer.