About Mike Miller

Mike is a software developer who loves to learn how things work. A Java programmer who caught the Groovy & Grails itch and is always looking for opportunities to include them as part of the solution.

Creating a simple JAX-RS MessageBodyWriter

JAX-RS is really cool and with the help of JAXB a lot of response data types can be converted for you simply by adding annotating the data objects with JAXB annotations.  I am fairly new at JAXB but some simple cut/paste of annotations will take you a long way.

There maybe some types of data that you can’t or won’t annotate for the purposes of returning that data type from a JAX-RS resource method.   One simple example is returning either a boolean (primitive) or the wrapper Boolean class.   I read a question on StackOverflow where someone asked if they could return a boolean from a resource method and since I didn’t know the answer, I decided to try it!  My version only returns XML, not JSON but you should get the idea.

I started with the Jersey User’s Guide HelloWorld example and starting modifying from there.  I used the pom.xml and the only change was to uncomment a block to allow using JSON.

Main class 

This the main class from the Hello World example without any changes.

package com.example;

import org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.HttpServer;
import org.glassfish.jersey.grizzly2.httpserver.GrizzlyHttpServerFactory;
import org.glassfish.jersey.server.ResourceConfig;

import java.io.IOException;
import java.net.URI;

 * Main class.
public class Main {
    // Base URI the Grizzly HTTP server will listen on
    public static final String BASE_URI = "http://localhost:8080/myapp/";

     * Starts Grizzly HTTP server exposing JAX-RS resources defined in this application.
     * @return Grizzly HTTP server.
    public static HttpServer startServer() {
        // create a resource config that scans for JAX-RS resources and providers
        // in com.example package
        final ResourceConfig rc = new ResourceConfig().packages("com.example");

        // create and start a new instance of grizzly http server
        // exposing the Jersey application at BASE_URI
        return GrizzlyHttpServerFactory.createHttpServer(URI.create(BASE_URI), rc);

     * Main method.
     * @param args
     * @throws IOException
    public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
        final HttpServer server = startServer();
        System.out.println(String.format("Jersey app started with WADL available at "
                + "%sapplication.wadl\nHit enter to stop it...", BASE_URI));

Resource class

I created a resource class that included a GET method to return a boolean and another GET method to return the wrapper Boolean class.  Notice the getBool() and getBoolean() methods return XML as the first option.

package com.example;

import javax.ws.rs.GET;
import javax.ws.rs.Path;
import javax.ws.rs.Produces;
import javax.ws.rs.core.MediaType;

 * Root resource (exposed at "myresource" path)
public class MyResource {

     * Method handling HTTP GET requests. The returned object will be sent
     * to the client as "text/plain" media type.
     * @return String that will be returned as a text/plain response.
    @Produces({MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON, MediaType.APPLICATION_XML, MediaType.TEXT_PLAIN})
    public String getIt() {
        return "Got it!";

    @Produces({MediaType.APPLICATION_XML, MediaType.TEXT_PLAIN})
    public boolean getBool() {
        return false;

    @Produces({MediaType.APPLICATION_XML, MediaType.TEXT_PLAIN})
    public Boolean getBoolean() {
        return Boolean.TRUE;

BooleanMessageBodyWriter class

Here’s the interesting part, creating the MessageBodyWriter class to allow the resource method to return XML for the boolean or Boolean.

package com.example;
import javax.ws.rs.Produces;
import javax.ws.rs.core.MediaType;
import javax.ws.rs.core.MultivaluedMap;
import javax.ws.rs.ext.MessageBodyWriter;
import javax.ws.rs.ext.Provider;
import javax.ws.rs.WebApplicationException;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.io.InputStream;
import java.io.DataOutputStream;
import java.io.ObjectOutputStream;
import java.io.OutputStream;
import java.io.PrintWriter;
import java.io.Serializable;
import java.lang.annotation.Annotation;
import java.lang.reflect.Type;
public class BooleanMessageBodyWriter implements MessageBodyWriter {
    public boolean isWriteable(Class type, Type genericType, Annotation[] annotations, MediaType mediaType) {
        System.out.println("isWriteable called...");
        return type == Boolean.class;
    public long getSize(Boolean myBool, Class type, Type genericType,
                        Annotation[] annotations, MediaType mediaType) {
        // deprecated by JAX-RS 2.0 and ignored by Jersey runtime
        return 0;
    public void writeTo(Boolean myBool,
                        Class type,
                        Type genericType,
                        Annotation[] annotations,
                        MediaType mediaType,
                        MultivaluedMap httpHeaders,
                        OutputStream entityStream)
                        throws IOException, WebApplicationException {
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        DataOutputStream dos = new DataOutputStream(entityStream);

I  haven’t used Maven before but the following targets are all you need to compile and run the project, after installing maven (of course!).

  • mvn compile – compiles the code
  • mvn exec:java – starts the Grizzly HttpServer and deploys the restful service.

Hope this helps!

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