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About Rafal Borowiec

Software developer, Team Leader, Agile practitioner, occasional blogger, lecturer. Open Source enthusiast, quality oriented and open-minded.

Building a HATEOAS API with JAX-RS and Spring

In my previous blog post I showed how easy Jersey can be configured with Spring Boot. My exploration on Spring Boot and Jersey did not end and I investigated the possibility of using Spring HATEOAS along with Jersey in Spring Boot application. Spring HATEOS allows creating REST representations that follow the HATEOAS principle and (as of writing this article) has basic JAX-RS support for working with links. In this blog post I will share some examples of how I integrated Spring HATEOAS with Jersey in a Spring Boot application.

Introduction

As the foundation for this article I used the example I created previously: (https://github.com/kolorobot/spring-boot-jersey-demo).

To get started with Spring HATEOAS I added the valid dependency to build.gradle:

compile("org.springframework.hateoas:spring-hateoas:0.16.0.RELEASE")

Quick approach with Resources helper

The quickest approach for generating representation of entity object (Customer) is using Spring HATEOAS Resource and Resources helpers. The latter wrap a collection of entities returned by CustomerRepository. To generate a link I used JaxRsLinkBuilder which helps building resources links to JAX-RS resources by discovering the paths based on the @Path annotation.

@Component
@Path("/customer")
@Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
public class CustomerController {

    @Inject
    private CustomerRepository customerRepository;

    @GET
    public Response findAll() {
        Resources<Customer> resources = new Resources<>(
                customerRepository.findAll(),
                JaxRsLinkBuilder
                        .linkTo(CustomerController.class)
                        .withSelfRel()
        );
        return Response.ok(resources).build();
    }

The result of calling the above method will be a collection resource with a self rel link:

{
  "links": [
    {
      "rel": "self",
      "href": "http://localhost:8080/customer"
    }
  ],
  "content": [
    {
      "id": 1,
      "firstname": "Dave",
      "lastname": "Matthews",
      "emailAddress": {
        "value": "dave@dmband.com"
      }
    }
  ]
}

Building representations with ResourceAssemblerSupport class

The Resource, Resources, PagedResources helpers are pretty handy, but there are situations where more control over created resources is needed.

To create custom transfer object from an entity ResourceSupport base class can be used:

public class CustomerResource extends ResourceSupport {

    private String fullName;
    private String email;

}

To assemble CustomerResource from an entity and automatically add self rel link to it ResourceAssemblerSupport class should be used. Basically this class is responsible for instantiating the resource and adding a link with rel self pointing to the resource:

public class CustomerResourceAssembler extends ResourceAssemblerSupport<Customer, CustomerResource> {

    public CustomerResourceAssembler() {
        super(CustomerController.class, CustomerResource.class);
    }

    @Override
    public CustomerResource toResource(Customer entity) {
            CustomerResource resource = createResourceWithId(
                    entity.getId(),
                    entity
            );

            // initialize the resource        

            return resource;
    }
}

The problem I had with the above code is that ResourceAssemblerSupport class internally uses a link builder for building links to Spring MVC controllers (ControllerLinkBuilder). This causes that links are invalid.

I did not find other way than creating a new support class that extends from ResourceAssemblerSupport and overrides the behavior of its parent:

public abstract class JaxRsResourceAssemblerSupport<T, D extends ResourceSupport>
        extends ResourceAssemblerSupport<T, D> {

    private final Class<?> controllerClass;

    public JaxRsResourceAssemblerSupport(
            Class<?> controllerClass, Class<D> resourceType) {

        super(controllerClass, resourceType);
        this.controllerClass = controllerClass;
    }

    @Override
    protected D createResourceWithId(Object id, T entity, Object... parameters) {
        Assert.notNull(entity);
        Assert.notNull(id);

        D instance = instantiateResource(entity);

        instance.add(
                JaxRsLinkBuilder.linkTo(controllerClass, parameters)
                        .slash(id)
                        .withSelfRel());
        return instance;
    }
}

I don’t really like the above solution as I needed to copy and paste some code, but I did not find a better way to achieve what I wanted.

My assembler extends now from newly created JaxRsResourceAssemblerSupport:

public class CustomerResourceAssembler 
        extends JaxRsResourceAssemblerSupport<Customer, CustomerResource> {

}

Finally I could modify controller’s method to return resources assembled by my assembler. Please note the ResourceAssemblerSupport provides convenient method to converts all given entities into resources:

@GET
@Path("/resources")
public Response findAll() {
    Iterable<Customer> customers = customerRepository.findAll();

    CustomerResourceAssembler assembler = new CustomerResourceAssembler();
    List<CustomerResource> resources = assembler.toResources(customers);

    return Response.ok(wrapped).build();
}

To add a link with self rel link to the collection resource, I needed to wrap it using previously mentioned Resources class:

// wrap to add link
Resources<CustomerResource> wrapped = new Resources<>(resources);
wrapped.add(
        JaxRsLinkBuilder
                .linkTo(CustomerController.class)
                .withSelfRel()
);

Now the returned representation looks more HATEOAS:

{
  "links": [
    {
      "rel": "self",
      "href": "http://localhost:8080/customer"
    }
  ],
  "content": [
    {
      "fullName": "Matthews, Dave",
      "email": "dave@dmband.com",
      "links": [
        {
          "rel": "self",
          "href": "http://localhost:8080/customer/1"
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

Using LinksBuilder

The EntityLinks interface provide API to create links based on entity type and are available for dependency injection when @EnableEntityLinks or @EnableHypermadiaSupport are used with @ExposesResourceFor. @ExposesResourceForexposes which entity type the Spring MVC controller or JAX-RS resource manages.

In configuration class we need to activate entity links:

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableEntityLinks
public class Application {

}

Note: Please note that when using entity links and @EnableEntityLinks the following dependency must be on the classpath:

compile("org.springframework.plugin:spring-plugin-core:1.1.0.RELEASE")

Any JAX-RS resource supporting an entity type must be marked with @ExposesResourceFor, so EntityLinks can be injected:

@ExposesResourceFor(Customer.class)
public class CustomerController {
    @Inject
    private EntityLinks entityLinks;
}

Basically, EntityLinks interface provides methods returning links to a collection resource or a single resource. Example:

Link selfRel = entityLinks.linkToSingleResource(
        Customer.class, customer.getId()
).withSelfRel();

Summary

Spring HATEOAS is not the only option to build HATEOAS API with JAX-RS and Jersey, but with the possibility of having Jersey in a Spring Boot application Spring HATEOAS may be a nice supplement, especially that it was designed with JAX-RS in mind.

Note: This article is just a research I conducted regarding the topic described. I did not use the approach in any project yet.

Resources

Reference: Building a HATEOAS API with JAX-RS and Spring from our JCG partner Rafal Borowiec at the Codeleak.pl blog.

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