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The Discovery Component is about discovering, or finding, implementations for pluggable interfaces. It provides facilities intantiating classes in general, and for lifecycle management of singleton (factory) classes. Fundamentally, Discovery locates classes that implement a given Java interface. The discovery pattern, though not necessarily this package, is used in many projects including JAXP (SaxParserFactory and others) and commons-logging (LogFactory). By extracting this pattern, other projects can (re)use it and take advantage of improvements to the pattern as Discovery evolves. Discovery improves over previous implementations by establishing facilities for working within managed environments. These allow configuration and property overrides without appealing to the global System properties (which are scoped across an entire JVM).

http://jakarta.apache.org/commons/discovery/