Our Eclipse RCP application has a test suite that is itself packaged up as an RCP application. One of the unit tests started failing, complaining that the expected hash code for the contents of a certain file is not as expected. The file had indeed been changed, and the test had been updated accordingly. Yet the test failure reported that the hash was the old one instead of the new one. We double-, triple-, quadruple-checked and verified that the correct file was on disk. And the hash code in the unit test matched the new file.
To add suspense, the test would only fail on one machine, the build server of course. The test passed on every other machine we tried, whether we ran it in the IDE or in a full headless build.
After much head-scratching to no avail, we finally went low tech and modified the code running on the build server to print out the path of the file in question. We were surprised, but not surprised, to find that the file being used by the test was not anywhere in the source tree, nor in the temporary build area. Rather, it was in the OSGI Configuration area.
Apparently, OSGI copies certain resources from their host plug-ins into the configuration area. Our code had asked for a file path (not URL) to the resource, so that behaviour is fair enough. What is confusing is that OSGI never refreshed that file even when the source resource had changed. Some of the resources had been refreshed, but not that one. I suppose that is what "eclipse -clean" is all about?
In hindsight, this is not the first such weird behaviour that I have seen with respect to the configuration area. I can recall instances when new perspective layouts, or even simple UI part labels, would not reflect their current values until the configuration area was cleared.
In case anyone was wondering, it is failures like this that drove us to package the test suite as an RCP application in the first place. Running the tests in the OSGI environment can bring forth obscure (and irritating) behaviours such as this.
Moral: if an OSGI app is behaving in a manner that defies explanation, see if the behaviour persists after clearing the configuration area.