About Steve Hanson

Steve is a software developer interested in web development and new technologies. He currently works as a Java consultant at Credera in Dallas, TX.

Spring MVC – Easy REST-Based JSON Services with @ResponseBody

Spring 3 makes JSON REST services really easy. This tutorial will show you how in just a few steps. You can grab the code on GitHub.

Prerequisites

You should have a working Spring MVC Application. If you do not already have a working Spring MVC application set up, follow this tutorial. We will define three REST services: 1) to retrieve a random Person, 2) to retrieve a Person by ID, and 3) to save a new Person. The services will be consumed using jQuery on a sample page we will set up. First, I will show the Spring Controller for our REST services, and then we will walk through how they work:

PersonController.java

package com.codetutr.controller;

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.PathVariable;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMethod;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestParam;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;

import com.codetutr.domain.Person;
import com.codetutr.service.PersonService;

@Controller
@RequestMapping("api")
public class PersonController {

	PersonService personService;

	@Autowired
	public PersonController(PersonService personService) {
		this.personService = personService;
	}

	@RequestMapping("person/random")
	@ResponseBody
	public Person randomPerson() {
		return personService.getRandom();
	}

	@RequestMapping("person/{id}")
	@ResponseBody
	public Person getById(@PathVariable Long id) {
		return personService.getById(id);
	}

	/* same as above method, but is mapped to
	 * /api/person?id= rather than /api/person/{id}
	 */
	@RequestMapping(value="person", params="id")
	@ResponseBody
	public Person getByIdFromParam(@RequestParam Long id) {
		return personService.getById(id);
	}

	/**
	 * Saves new person. Spring automatically binds the name
	 * and age parameters in the request to the person argument
	 * @param person
	 * @return String indicating success or failure of save
	 */
	@RequestMapping(value="person", method=RequestMethod.POST)
	@ResponseBody
	public String savePerson(Person person) {
		personService.save(person);
		return "Saved person: " + person.toString();
	}
}

OK, so, as you can see, we have 4 request handlers in this controller. The first method returns a random person. The next two retrieve a person by ID – just two different approaches to the URL mapping. The last method saves a person.

Remember how Spring controllers usually return a type String (to indicate the resulting view name). Instead, here we are using Spring’s @ResponseBody annotation and returning the object that we want to send to the client. The @ResponseBody annotation tells Spring that we will be returning data in the response body rather than rendering a JSP.

When the @ResponseBody annotation is used, Spring will return the data in a format that is acceptable to the client. That is, if the client request has a header to accept json and Jackson-Mapper is present in the classpath, then Spring will try to serialize the return value to JSON. If the request header indicates XML as acceptable (accept=application/xml) and Jaxb is in the classpath and the return type is annotated with Jaxb annotation, Spring will try to marshall the return value to XML.

As I mentioned, if you want your services to return JSON, you have to have Jackson in the classpath. Here is the only dependency you need to add to your project:

Gradle

compile 'org.codehaus.jackson:jackson-mapper-asl:1.9.12'

Or, if you’re using Maven:

<dependency>
    <groupId>org.codehaus.jackson</groupId>
    <artifactId>jackson-mapper-asl</artifactId>
    <version>1.9.12</version>
</dependency>

Alternatively, if you want your services to return XML, include your favorite Jaxb implementation, eg. com.sun.xml.bind:jaxb:2.1.9.

In a minute, we’ll build a front end to call these services using AJAX, but if you deploy your application now, you can try out your services using a REST client (or just typing the URL into your browser). Eg:

random-person

You can stop following along if you’re content with that. I will just connect all the pieces now by coding the client-side jQuery:

home.jsp

<%@ taglib prefix="c" uri="http://java.sun.com/jsp/jstl/core" %>
<%@ taglib prefix="form" uri="http://www.springframework.org/tags/form" %>

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Spring MVC - Ajax</title>
    <script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.9.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
    <style>
      body { background-color: #eee; font: helvetica; }
      #container { width: 500px; background-color: #fff; margin: 30px auto; padding: 30px; border-radius: 5px; box-shadow: 5px; }
      .green { font-weight: bold; color: green; }
      .message { margin-bottom: 10px; }
      label { width:70px; display:inline-block;}
      .hide { display: none; }
      .error { color: red; font-size: 0.8em; }
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
  
  <div id="container">
  
    <h1>Person Page</h1>
    <p>This page demonstrates Spring MVC's powerful Ajax functionality. Retrieve a
    random person, retrieve a person by ID, or save a new person, all without page reload.
    </p>
    
    <h2>Random Person Generator</h2>
    <input type="submit" id="randomPerson" value="Get Random Person" /><br/><br/>
    <div id="personResponse"> </div>
    
    <hr/>
    
    <h2>Get By ID</h2>
    <form id="idForm">
      <div class="error hide" id="idError">Please enter a valid ID in range 0-3</div>
      <label for="personId">ID (0-3): </label><input name="id" id="personId" value="0" type="number" />
      <input type="submit" value="Get Person By ID" /> <br /><br/>
      <div id="personIdResponse"> </div>
    </form>
    
    <hr/>
    
    <h2>Submit new Person</h2>
    <form id="newPersonForm">
      <label for="nameInput">Name: </label>
      <input type="text" name="name" id="nameInput" />
      <br/>
      
      <label for="ageInput">Age: </label>
      <input type="text" name="age" id="ageInput" />
      <br/>
      <input type="submit" value="Save Person" /><br/><br/>
      <div id="personFormResponse" class="green"> </div>
    </form>
  </div>
  
  
  <script type="text/javascript">
  
    $(document).ready(function() {
      
      // Random Person AJAX Request
      $('#randomPerson').click(function() {
        $.getJSON('${pageContext.request.contextPath}/api/person/random', function(person) {
          $('#personResponse').text(person.name + ', age ' + person.age);
        });
      });
      
      // Request Person by ID AJAX
      $('#idForm').submit(function(e) {
        var personId = +$('#personId').val();
        if(!validatePersonId(personId)) 
          return false;
        $.get('${pageContext.request.contextPath}/api/person/' + personId, function(person) {
          $('#personIdResponse').text(person.name + ', age ' + person.age);
        });
        e.preventDefault(); // prevent actual form submit
      });
      
      // Save Person AJAX Form Submit
      $('#randomPerson').click(function() {
        $.getJSON('${pageContext.request.contextPath}/api/person/random', function(person) {
          $('#personResponse').text(person.name + ', age ' + person.age);
        });
      });
      
      $('#newPersonForm').submit(function(e) {
        // will pass the form date using the jQuery serialize function
        $.post('${pageContext.request.contextPath}/api/person', $(this).serialize(), function(response) {
          $('#personFormResponse').text(response);
        });
        
        e.preventDefault(); // prevent actual form submit and page reload
      });
      
    });
    
    function validatePersonId(personId) {
      console.log(personId);
      if(personId === undefined || personId < 0 || personId > 3) {
        $('#idError').show();
        return false;
      }
      else {
        $('#idError').hide();
        return true;
      }
    }
    
  
  </script>
  
  </body>
</html>

Once you have everything in place, you should have a page that looks like this:

Spring MVC jQuery Ajax Example

Full Source:

 ZIPGitHub
To run the code from this tutorial: Must have Gradle installed. Download the ZIP. Extract. Open command prompt to extracted location. Run gradle jettyRunWar. Navigate in browser to http://localhost:8080.

References

 

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7 Responses to "Spring MVC – Easy REST-Based JSON Services with @ResponseBody"

  1. really good tutorial
    thanks mate :)

  2. Matthew says:

    Great Tutorial! Just wondering if this is being run on Tomcat 7? I cannot seem to make any AJAX GET requests when applying the principles in this tutorial. I continually get a 403 Forbidden error, all by spring security configuration has been done correctly. I can access what I like when I use REST just fine.

    • Matthew says:

      I dont understand why, but I finally resolved my issue. In the AJAX $.get request I specified the actual URL of the request ‘http://localhost:8080/../etc’ and it worked. Although, when I actually gave it ‘${pageContext.request.contextPath}/etc/..’ it does not work.

  3. Good tutorial, but you dont include the servlet configuration.
    Could you please include it? Thanks

  4. Davide says:

    Interesting, i m trying to receive an array of object like this…But i have some problem..if you could help me out that would be very helpful ;) http://stackoverflow.com/questions/24314075/spring-mvc-could-not-read-json-can-not-deserialize-instance-of-java-util-vect

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