Repository Management with Nexus

5.10. Searching for Artifacts

5.10.1. Search Overview

In the left-hand navigation area, there is an Artifact Search text field next to a magnifying glass. To search for an artifact by groupId or artifactId, type in some text and click the magnifying glass. Typing in the search term junit and clicking the magnifying glass should yield a search result similar to Figure 5.19, “Results of an Artifact Search for "junit"”.


Figure 5.19. Results of an Artifact Search for "junit"

The groupId in the Group column and the artifactId in the Artifact column identify each row in the search results table. Each row represents an aggregration of all artifacts in this Group and Artifact coordinate.

The Version column displays the lastest version number available as well as a link to Show All Versions.

The Most Popular Version column displays the version that has the most downloads by all users accessing the Central Repository. This data can help with the selection of an appropriate version to use for a particular artifact.

The Download column displays direct links to all the artifacts available for the latest version. A typical list of downloadable artifacts would include the Java archive jar, the Maven pom.xml file pom, a Javadoc archive javadoc.jar and a Sourcecode archive sources.jar, but other download options are also added if more artifacts are available. Click on the link to download an artifact.

Each of the columns in the search results table can be used to sort the table in Ascending or Descending order. In addition, you can choose to add and remove colums with the sort and column drop-down options visible in Figure 5.20, “Sort and Column Options in the Search Results Table”.


Figure 5.20. Sort and Column Options in the Search Results Table

The repository browser interface below the search results table will displays the artifact selected in the list in the repository structure with the same information panels available documented in Section 5.2, “Browsing Repositories”. An artifact could be present in more than one repository. If this is the case, click on the value next to Viewing Repository to switch between multiple matching repositories.


Let me guess? You installed Nexus, ran to the search box, typed in the name of a group or an artifact, pressed search, and saw absolutely nothing. No results. Nexus isn’t going to retrieve the remote repository indexes by default. You need to activate downloading of remote indexes for the three proxy repositories that Nexus are shipped with Nexus. Without these indexes, Nexus has nothing to search. Find instructions for activating index downloads in Section 6.2, “Managing Repositories”.

5.10.2. Advanced Search

Clicking on the (Show All Versions) link in the Version column visible in Figure 5.19, “Results of an Artifact Search for "junit"” will initiate an Advanced Search by the groupId and artifactId of the row and result in a view similar to Figure 5.21, “Advanced Search Results for a GAV Search Activated by the Show All Versions Link”.


Figure 5.21. Advanced Search Results for a GAV Search Activated by the Show All Versions Link

The header for the Advanced Search contains a selector for the type of search and one or more text input fields to define a search and a button to run a new search with the specified parameters.

The search results table contains one row per Group (groupId), Artifact (artifactId), and Version(version).

In addition, the Age column displays the age of the artifacts being available on the Central Repository. Since most artifacts are published to the Central Repository when released, this age gives you a good indication of the actual time since the release of the artifact.

The Popularity column shows a relative popularity as compared to the other results in the search table. This can give you a good idea on the adoption rate of a new release. For example if a newer version has a high age value, but a low popularity compared to an older version, you might want to check the upstream project and see if there is any issues stopping other users from upgrading that might affect you as well. Another reason could be that the new version does not provide signifcant improvements to warrant an upgrade for most users.

The Security Issues column shows the number of known security issues for the specific artifact. The License Threat column shows a colored square with blue indicating no license threat and yellow, orange and red indicating increased license threats. More information about both indicators can be seen in the Component Info panel below the list of artifacts for the specific artifact.

The Download column provides download links for all the available artifacts.

The following advanced searches are available:

Keyword Search
Identical to the Artifact Search in the left-hand navigation, this search will look for the specified strings in the groupId and artifactId.
Classname Search
Rather than looking at the coordinates of an artifact in the repository, the Classname Search will look at the contents of the artifacts and look for Java classes with the specified name. For example, try a search for a classname of Pair to see how many library authors saw a need to implement such a class, saving you from potentially implementing yet another version.
GAV Search
The GAV search allows a search using the Maven coordinatess of an artifact. These are Group (groupId), Artifact (artifactId), Version (version), Packaging (packaging), and Classifier (classifier). At a minimum you need to specify a group, artifact, or version in your search. An example search would be with an artifact guice and a classifier no_aop or a group of org.glassfish.main.admingui and a packaging war. The default packaging is jar, with other values as used in the Maven packaging like ear, war, maven-plugin, pom, ejb and many others being possible choices.
Checksum Search
Sometimes it is necessary to determine the version of a jar artifact in order to migrate to a qualified version. When attempting this and neither the filename nor the contents of the manfiest file in the jar contain any useful information about the exact version of the jar, you can use Checksum Search to identify the artifact. Create a sha1 checksum, e.g., with the sha1sum command available on Linux or fciv on Windows, and use the created string in a checksum search. This will return one result, which will provide you with the GAV coordinates to replace the jar file with a dependency declaration.
Metadata Search
Search for artifacts with specific metadata properties is documented in Section 5.10.3, “Searching Artifact Metadata”.

The checksum search can be a huge timesaver when migrating a legacy build system, where the used libraries are checked into the version control system as binary artifacts with no version information available.

5.10.3. Searching Artifact Metadata

To search for artifacts with specific metadata, click on the Advanced Search link directly below the search field in the Artifact Search submenu of the Nexus menu. This opens the Search panel and allows you to select Metadata Search in the search type drop-down as shown in Figure 5.22, “Searching Artifact Metadata”.


Figure 5.22. Searching Artifact Metadata

Once you select the metadata search you will see two search fields and an operator drop-down. The two search fields are the key and value of the metadata for which you are searching. The operator drop-down can be set to Equals, Matches, Key Defined, or Not Equal. Equals and Not Equals compare the value for a specific key. Matches allows the usage of * to allow any characters. E.g., looking for tr* would match true but also match tree. The Key Defined operator will ignore any value provided and return all artifacts with the supplied key.


Figure 5.23. Metadata Search Results for Custom Metadata

Once you locate a matching artifact in the results list, click on the artifact and then select the Artifact Metadata to examine an artifacts metadata as shown in Figure 5.24, “Metadata Search Results for Custom Metadata”.


Figure 5.24. Metadata Search Results for Custom Metadata