Configuration Variables Reference

This section outlines how to reference different variable type sources in the configuration of a Payara Server domain.

References to System Properties

Variable references to system properties start with ${, followed by the name of the variable, and end with }. An example of a variable reference that refers to a java.home system property is:


Values of system properties can be specified by:

  • the JVM (standard JVM properties like java.home)

  • Payara Server (a set of predefined variables, such as com.sun.aas.instanceRoot)

  • the create-system-properties asadmin command (or in the Admin console System properties section)

  • a JVM option prefixed with -D

When custom properties are specified, their value can also contain other variable references. It is therefore possible to define a system property using other system properties or environment variables.

References to environment variables

Environment variable references are used like system property references, but contain an extra ENV qualifier and equals sign before the variable name. An example of a reference to an environment variable HOME then looks like:


Environment variables need to be specified in the environment before a Payara instance is started. By adding a colon after the variable name, you may append a default value if the variable has not been set.

References to password aliases

References to password aliases are used to refer to a password which is stored securely in the domain’s keystore. They are treated in a special way and cannot be mixed with other variable references and with other characters in the same configuration value. They are only supposed to be used as a value anywhere a password is expected in the configuration.

Password aliases look like system property references, but contain an extra ALIAS qualifier and equals sign before the alias name. Whenever used, the configuration value can only contain a password alias and nothing more.

An example of a reference to a password alias called cluster-password for an attribute admin-password looks like:


Reference to MicroProfile Config Properties

MicroProfile Configuration variable references can be used exactly like an environment variable reference, but using the MPCONFIG qualifier. An example of a reference to a MicroProfile Configuration variable called foo would look like:


MicroProfile Configuration variables must be declared in one of the Payara Platform supported configuration sources.

By adding a colon (:) after the property name, you may append a default value if the variable has not been set.

Using variable references

A variable can be referenced anywhere inside a string value of a property which supports variable references. Multiple references to system properties and environment variables can be used within the same configuration value, concatenating any number of variable references and plain text chunks. When a reference to a password alias is used, it has to expand to the whole property value and cannot be combined with any other text or variable references.

Variable references in the domain configuration

Variable references can be used inside text values in the following configuration files within the domain directory:

  • domain.xml (inside attribute values or inside text nodes that contain a configuration value)

  • (inside property values)

Variable references in deployed applications

Variable references can be used inside text values also in the following places within deployed applications and modules:

  • Package descriptors:

    • web.xml / glassfish-web.xml

    • ejb-jar.xml / glassfish-ejb-jar.xml

    • application.xml / glassfish-application.xml

    • glassfish-resources.xml

  • Framework descriptors:

    • persistence.xml

    • faces-config.xml

  • In the annotations:

    • @EJB, @WebService, @Stateless, @Stateful, @Singleton, @ActivationConfigProperty, @DataSource, @WebServlet

  • In JNDI lookups inside an application

  • In pre and post boot command files.

  • In JVM Options.

  • In the file.


Here are several examples of where you can use variable references:

Within an annotation


Within a web.xml descriptor


Multiple variable references combined in a single value withing the domain.xml

<domain log-root="${com.sun.aas.instanceRoot}/${ENV=STAGE_NAME}/logs">

Within a pre or post boot command file

set configs.config.server-config.http-service.virtual-server.server.default-web-module=${ENV=deployed-app-name}

Within a file


Within a file

The config source is only available in Payara Server
fish.payara.example.multiple=property containing both an ${ENV=envProperty} and a ${sysProp}