When running a web application using Spring MVC, it's not possible to effectively refresh the web-tier application context. For example, when running a webflow application, the web-tier application context has a bean definition for a FlowRegistry. This registry reads a set of files from the filesystem based on wild-card patterns. If a new file is added, I'd like to read that file and use it without restarting the servlet. From a context perspective this is possible. A refresh of the context (via JMX for example) will reinstantiate the registry bean and read the new file in if it matches the selection pattern.
The problem lies in the DispatcherServlet. The DispatcherServlet maintains a cached reference to the HandlerMapping that it was started with. Therefore, even though the context has been refreshed and all beans recreated, the HandlerMapping is the original HandlerMapping bean and it may contain cached references to the original handlers and on through the object graph.
The DispatcherServlet should have a mechanism to reload HandlerMappings (or really any artifacts) from a refreshed web-tier application context.