Remote Repository Filtering

A new Maven Resolver feature that allows filtering of Artifact by RemoteRepository based on various (extensible) criteria.


Remote Repository Filtering (RRF) is a long asked feature of Maven, and plays a huge role when your build uses several remote repositories. In such cases Maven “searches” the ordered list (effective POM) of remote repositories, and artifacts get resolved using a loop and a “first found wins” strategy. This has several implications:

  • your build gets slower, as if your artifact is in the Nth repository, Maven must make N-1 requests that will result in 404 Not Found only to get to Nth repository to finally get the artifact.
  • you build “leaks” artifact requests, as those repositories are asked for artifacts, that does not (or worse, cannot) have them. Still, those remote repository operators do get your requests in access logs.
  • to “simplify” things, users tend to use MRM “group” (or “virtual”) repositories, that causes data loss on Maven Project side (project loses artifact origin information) and ends up in disasters, as at the end these “super-uber groups” grow uncontrollably, their member count become huge (as new members are being added as time passes), or created groups count grows uncontrollably, and project start losing the knowledge about their required remote repositories, needed to (re)build a project, hence these projects become un-buildable without the MRM, projects become bound to MRM and/or environment that is usually out of project control.

Maven by default gets slower as remote repositories are added, leaks your own build information to remote repository operators, and current solutions offered to solve this problem just end up in disasters (most often).

What It Is?

Imagine you can instruct Maven which repository can contain what artifact? Instead of “ordered loop” searching for artifacts in remote repositories, Maven could be instructed in controlled way to directly reach only the needed remote repository.

With RRF, Maven build does NOT have to slow down with new remote repositories added, and will not leak either build information anywhere, as it will get things from where they should be get from.

What It Is Not?

When it solely comes to dependencies, don't forget maven-enforcer-plugin rules that are handling exactly them. RRF is NOT an alternative means to these enforcer rules, it is a tool to make your build faster and more private, optimized, without loosing build information (remote repositories should be in POM).

Maven Central Is Special

Maven Central (MC) repository is special in this respect, as Maven will always try to get things from here, as your build, plugins, plugin dependencies, extension, etc. will most often come from here. While you CAN filter MC, filtering MC is most often a bad idea (filtering, as in “limiting what can come from it”). On other hand, MC itself offers help to prevent request leakage to it (see “prefixes” filter).

So, most often limiting “what can be fetched” from MC is a bad idea, it can be done but in very, very cautious way, as otherwise you put your build at risk. RRF does not distinguish the “context” of an artifact, it merely filters them out by (artifact, remoteRepository) pair, and by limiting MC you can easily get into state where you break your build (as plugin depends on filtered artifact).


The RRF feature offers a filter source SPI for 3rd party implementors, but it also provides 2 out of the box implementations for filtering: “prefixes” and “groupId” filters.

Both implementation operate with several files (per remote repository), and they use the term “filter basedir”. By default, filter basedir is resolved from local repository root and resolves to ${localRepo}/.remoteRepositoryFilters directory. It will be referred to in this document with ${filterBasedir} placeholder.

To explicitly set filter basedir, use following setting: -Daether.remoteRepositoryFilter.${filterName}.basedir=somePath, where “somePath” can be relative path, then is resolved from local repository root, or absolute path, then is used as is.

The Prefixes Filter

The “prefixes” named filter relies on a file containing a list of “repository prefixes” available from a given repository. The prefix is essentially the “starts with” of Artifact path as translated by the repository layout. Its effect is that only those artifacts will be attempted to be downloaded from given remote repository, if there is a “starts with” match between the artifact path translated by the layout, and the prefixes file published by remote repository.

Prefixes are usually published by remote repositories, hence, are kinda filtering the other way around: it is rather the remote repository advising us “do not even bother to come to me with a path that has no appropriate prefix enlisted in this file”. On the other hand, having a prefix enlisted does not provide 100% guarantee that a matching artifact is really present! For example the presence of /com/foo prefix does NOT imply that artifact is present, it merely tells “I do have something that starts with /com/foo” (for example The depth of published prefixes is set by the publisher, and is usually a value between 2 and 4. It all boils down to the balance between “best coverage” and “acceptable file size” (ultimately, the prefixes file containing all the relative paths of deployed artifacts from the repository root would be 100% coverage, but the cost would be a huge file size for huge repositories like Maven Central).

As this file is (automatically) published by MC and MRMs, using them is the simplest. Manual authoring of these files, while possible, is not recommended. The best is to keep them up to date by downloading the published files from the remote repositories.

Many MRMs and Maven Central itself publish these files. Some prefixes file examples:

The prefixes files are expected in the following location by default: ${filterBasedir}/prefixes-${}.txt.

To enable prefixes filter, use the following setting: -Daether.remoteRepositoryFilter.prefixes=true.

The prefixes filter will “abstain” from filtering for the given remote repository, if there is no input provided for it.

The GroupId Filter

The “groupId” named implementation is filtering based on allowed groupId of Artifact. In essence, it is a list of “allowed groupId coordinates from given remote repository”. The file contains one Artifact groupId per line.

The groupId files are expected in the following location by default: ${filterBasedir}/groupId-${}.txt.

To enable groupId filtering, use the following setting: -Daether.remoteRepositoryFilter.groupId=true.

The groupId filter will “abstain” from filtering for the given remote repository, if there is no input provided for it.

The GroupId filter allows the “recording” of encountered groupIds as well, that can be used as starting point: after the “recording” is done, one can edit, remove or add entries as needed. When the groupId filter is set to “record”, it does NOT filter, but instead collects all the encountered groupIds per remote repository and saves them into properly placed file(s).

To enable GroupId Filter recording, use following setting: -Daether.remoteRepositoryFilter.groupId.record=true.

To truncate recorded file(s) instead of merging recorded entries with existing file, use following setting: -Daether.remoteRepositoryFilter.groupId.truncateOnSave=true. If enabled, the saved file will contain ONLY the groupIds that were recorded in current session, otherwise the recorded groupIds and already present ones in file will be merged, and then saved.


To make RRF filter operate, you have to provide two things: you have to explicitly enable the filter, and you have to provide input for the filter.

Enabling filters does not make them active (participate in filtering): if a given remote repository does not have any input available, the filter pulls out from “voting” (does not participate in filtering, will abstain from voting).

In short, enabling filters is not enough, to make it active for a remote repository, you must provide them with “input data” for this remote repository as well.

The most common configuration in case of multiple remote repositories is the following setup: enable both filters, provide the Maven Central prefixes file (downloaded) and if any remote repository offers prefixes, download them as well. Optionally provide groupId files for other remote repositories, if needed. It results in following filter activity:

Remote Repository Prefixes Filter GroupId Filter
Maven Central active inactive
Some Remote inactive active

This leads to the following “constraints”:

  • “Maven Central” is asked only for those artifacts it claims it may have (prefixes)
  • “Some Remote” is asked only for allowed groupIds. If it publishes prefixes, it can be safely added as well.