Creating an Akka actor from a dynamically loaded Jar file in Scala

Creating actors in Akka is generally pretty straight forward. If using the general use-case, there are two slightly different methods to use depending on whether or not your Actor has any parameters in it's constructor.

Without constructor parameters

class MyActor extends Actor { ... }

val myActor = system.actorOf(Props[MyActor],name="actorname")

With constructor parameters

class MyActor(param:String) extends Actor { ... }

val myActor = system.actorOf(Props(new MyActor(parameter)),name="actorname")
That's pretty straight forward. However, there are outlier cases for JVM+Scala in which some more dynamic functionality seen in languages like Python is useful. As a result, I've been playing with ways to dynamically load classes from remote jar files. As I have been into Akka+Scala for a while, this ultimately leads to the question: "How can I load an Actor from a jarfile I received from a remote source?". This isn't quite comparable to what Python does, but it is interesting and powerful nonetheless. Loading a class from a jarfile using a URLClassLoader is fairly straightforward and I wont cover it here. What I will cover is loading an Actor from a URLClassLoader in Scala. Using reflection this can be achieved without too much stress, assuming we do not need to pass parameters into an actor's constructor.

From a URLClassLoader without constructor parameters

class MyActor extends Actor { ... }

val loader = jarFileToUrlClassLoader(jarURL)
val clazz = loader.loadClass("my.pkg.MyActor")
val myActor = context.system.actorOf(Props(clazz.asInstanceOf[Class[_ : < akka.actor.Actor]])
If you're constructor has parameters however, it becomes a little more tricky. Unfortunately the Scala/Akka API doesn't seem to support this. The Java/Akka one does, though we have to use the Creator class. Creator is a factory that makes whatever type you tell it to. Override its create function and return an Actor.

From a URLClassLoader with constructor parameters

class MyActor(p:String) extends Actor { ... }

val loader = jarFileToUrlClassLoader(jarURL)
val clazz = loader.loadClass("my.pkg.MyActor")
val const = clazz.getConstructors()(0) //Do this properly

val prop = new Props
val myActor = prop.withCreator(new akka.japi.Creator[Actor]{
    def create:Actor = {
        return const.newInstance("My Parameter").asInstanceOf[Actor]
    }
})
Tada! Now you have all the tools needed to beam Jarfiles around, load them and fire up actors inside them.