Home > Java, mule > How to use Java .properties files in Mule

How to use Java .properties files in Mule

Externalizing ports and IP addresses (or anything else for that matter) in Mule

Mule is a great piece of open source software known as an Enterprise Service Bus. It is designed to make it easy to integrate various systems which were not explicitly built to work with each other. For instance, it handles all the details of various transport mechanisms (e-mail, HTTP, TCP, UDP, files) that your data might be shuttled around in, as well as the transformers that convert data from one format to another (e.g., the bytes of a TCP packet, into a String, into an XML document, into a Java object representing that XML).

Mule services are configured via XML, in particular the Spring framework. This post is designed to inform the reader as to how to incorporate Java .properties files into the XML.

.properties files, for those who are unfamiliar, is a simple Key=Value storage mechanism in widespread use in Java development. From the wikipedia explanation, here are a few lines of a .properties file:

website = http://en.wikipedia.org/
language = English
# The backslash below tells the application to continue reading
# the value onto the next line.
message = Welcome to \

The documentation for Mule / Spring advises that you break up configuration files into multiple files and then reassemble them as needed. In Mule’s case, this allows you to run one instance of mule per small function, allowing you to restart just the piece that needs to when a change is made, rather than bringing down all the pieces. Furthermore it makes it easy to reason about each modular piece when broken down in this way.

Unfortunately, splitting the files up like this can easily cause a lot of duplication, especially of IP addresses and ports. If you are sending objects to the same IP address and port from multiple configuration files, you might end up with multiple instances of lines of configuration like

tcp:inbound-endpoint address="tcp://"

Fortunately, by storing the IP addresses and ports in .properties file, you can eliminate code duplication and allow the variables to be changed in a single place and have the change reflected in all files referencing these variables. Additionally, if you name the variables properly, the impenetrable IP addresses instead become self documenting strings:

tcp:inbound-endpoint address="${email.server.address}"

This ${x} syntax should be familiar to anyone who has used Ant in the past. This basically says, find the property with the key email.server.address and textually substitute its value here. This assumes that you have a .properties file with the line


For the purposes of this post, assume that the line is defined in a file called test.properties.

Unfortunately, the way to do this is not clearly defined in any document I’ve seen, which is why I want to explain how to do it here.

Existing information

The first result in google for “mule java properties” is Mule: Configuring Properties, which is 5 years old and refers to Mule 1.5 (I figured this out the hard way). There is more up to date information by searching for “configuring properties”, particularly Configuring Properties – Mule 2.x User Guide.

Here is the relevant information:

To load properties from a file, you can use the standard Spring element

 <context:property-placeholder location="smtp.properties"/>

(In other words you need to add those schema declarations at the top of your file, after the description field, before creating a context:property-placeholder element to tell Mule all the .properties files you want pulled in to your file).

Would that it were so easy.

If you change this example to the name of your .properties file, you will probably get a FileNotFoundException, even if you give the complete path to the .properties file.

A Fatal error: class path resource [C:/Mule/mule-standalone-2.2.1/conf/test.properties] cannot be opened because it does not exist

This message is extremely unhelpful because the file does exist at that exact location. After some digging, I found two workarounds, one of which is hinted at by the error message, another is not.


By default, the .properties file is searched for in the classpath that the Mule environment runs in. Thus you need to ensure that the folder in which your test.properties file is located in is also on that classpath.

The wrapper.conf file in $MULE_HOME/conf is where the classpath is defined:


If you place your .properties files in any of those folders, it will be picked up. That’s probably not the ideal place for your files, however. If you wish to add an additional folder, you merely add another entry. For instance, if I store the .properties files in /Dev/Mule/Configs/Properties, I would add the line


Note that you must add the consecutive numbers to each classpath you add, or Mule will not pick up on the change correctly.

You can make it explicit to the readers of your configuration file that you are including a .properties file that’s located on the classpath with the classpath prefix:

<context:property-placeholder location="classpath:test.properties">

Absolute locations

If you wish to specify the absolute path to a resource rather than relying on classpath resolution, you must prefix the path with file///. So our previous example becomes

<context:property-placeholder location="file///Dev/Mule/Configs/Properties/test.properties">

(You also need 3 slashes even if you’re on Windows)


It’s a very good idea to externalize ports and IP addresses from the XML configuration files that Mule needs to run. This allows you to make changes to the ports and IP addresses in one place rather than in all the files that reference them. It also allows you to associate a more meaningful name to the addresses than an IP address; it is self-documenting in that regard. Unfortunately the process for importing .properties files into your Mule configuration files is not well documented, which is what I am attempting to remedy here.

Categories: Java, mule Tags: , , , , ,
  1. rajib
    February 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    thanks. this post is really helpful!

  2. Jayashree
    August 16, 2016 at 5:54 am

    What if I change a property value? It is not reflecting without restarting the server.

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