Using JAX-RS with JAXB
Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 8
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Using JAX-RS with JAXB

Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB) is an XML-to-Java binding technology that simplifies the development of web services by enabling transformations between schema and Java objects and between XML instance documents and Java object instances. An XML schema defines the data elements and structure of an XML document. You can use JAXB APIs and tools to establish mappings between Java classes and XML schema. JAXB technology provides the tools that enable you to convert your XML documents to and from Java objects.

By using JAXB, you can manipulate data objects in the following ways.

  • You can start with an XML schema definition (XSD) and use xjc, the JAXB schema compiler tool, to create a set of JAXB-annotated Java classes that map to the elements and types defined in the XSD schema.

  • You can start with a set of Java classes and use schemagen, the JAXB schema generator tool, to generate an XML schema.

  • Once a mapping between the XML schema and the Java classes exists, you can use the JAXB binding runtime to marshal and unmarshal your XML documents to and from Java objects and use the resulting Java classes to assemble a web services application.

XML is a common media format that RESTful services consume and produce. To deserialize and serialize XML, you can represent requests and responses by JAXB annotated objects. Your JAX-RS application can use the JAXB objects to manipulate XML data. JAXB objects can be used as request entity parameters and response entities. The JAX-RS runtime environment includes standard MessageBodyReader and MessageBodyWriter provider interfaces for reading and writing JAXB objects as entities.

With JAX-RS, you enable access to your services by publishing resources. Resources are just simple Java classes with some additional JAX-RS annotations. These annotations express the following:

  • The path of the resource (the URL you use to access it)

  • The HTTP method you use to call a certain method (for example, the GET or POST method)

  • The MIME type with which a method accepts or responds

As you define the resources for your application, consider the type of data you want to expose. You may already have a relational database that contains information you want to expose to users, or you may have static content that does not reside in a database but does need to be distributed as resources. Using JAX-RS, you can distribute content from multiple sources. RESTful web services can use various types of input/output formats for request and response. The customer example, described in The customer Example Application, uses XML.

Resources have representations. A resource representation is the content in the HTTP message that is sent to, or returned from, the resource using the URI. Each representation a resource supports has a corresponding media type. For example, if a resource is going to return content formatted as XML, you can use application/xml as the associated media type in the HTTP message.Depending on the requirements of your application, resources can return representations in a preferred single format or in multiple formats. JAX-RS provides @Consumes and @Produces annotations to declare the media types that are acceptable for a resource method to read and write.

JAX-RS also maps Java types to and from resource representations using entity providers. A MessageBodyReader entity provider reads a request entity and deserializes the request entity into a Java type. A MessageBodyWriter entity provider serializes from a Java type into a response entity. For example, if a String value is used as the request entity parameter, the MessageBodyReader entity provider deserializes the request body into a new String. If a JAXB type is used as the return type on a resource method, the MessageBodyWriter serializes the JAXB object into a response body.

By default, the JAX-RS runtime environment attempts to create and use a default JAXBContext class for JAXB classes.However, if the default JAXBContext class is not suitable, then you can supply a JAXBContext class for the application using a JAX-RS ContextResolver provider interface.

The following sections explain how to use JAXB with JAX-RS resource methods.

Using Java Objects to Model Your Data

If you do not have an XML schema definition for the data you want to expose, you can model your data as Java classes, add JAXB annotations to these classes, and use JAXB to generate an XML schema for your data. For example, if the data you want to expose is a collection of products and each product has an ID, a name, a description, and a price, you can model it as a Java class as follows:

@XmlRootElement(name="product")
@XmlAccessorType(XmlAccessType.FIELD)
public class Product {

    @XmlElement(required=true)
    protected int id;
    @XmlElement(required=true)
    protected String name;
    @XmlElement(required=true)
    protected String description;
    @XmlElement(required=true)
    protected int price;

    public Product() {}

    // Getter and setter methods
    // ...
}

Run the JAXB schema generator on the command line to generate the corresponding XML schema definition:

schemagen Product.java

This command produces the XML schema as an .xsd file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<xs:schema version="1.0" xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">

    <xs:element name="product" type="product"/>

    <xs:complexType name="product">
      <xs:sequence>
        <xs:element name="id" type="xs:int"/>
        <xs:element name="name" type="xs:string"/>
        <xs:element name="description" type="xs:string"/>
        <xs:element name="price" type="xs:int"/>
      </xs:sequence>
    <xs:complexType>
</xs:schema>

Once you have this mapping, you can create Product objects in your application, return them, and use them as parameters in JAX-RS resource methods. The JAX-RS runtime uses JAXB to convert the XML data from the request into a Product object and to convert a Product object into XML data for the response. The following resource class provides a simple example:

@Path("/product")
public class ProductService {
    @GET
    @Path("/get")
    @Produces("application/xml")
    public Product getProduct() {
        Product prod = new Product();
        prod.setId(1);
        prod.setName("Mattress");
        prod.setDescription("Queen size mattress");
        prod.setPrice(500);
        return prod;
    }

    @POST
    @Path("/create")
    @Consumes("application/xml")
    public Response createProduct(Product prod) {
        // Process or store the product and return a response
        // ...
    }
}

Some IDEs, such as NetBeans IDE, will run the schema generator tool automatically during the build process if you add Java classes that have JAXB annotations to your project. For a detailed example, see The customer Example Application. The customer example contains a more complex relationship between the Java classes that model the data, which results in a more hierarchical XML representation.

Starting from an Existing XML Schema Definition

If you already have an XML schema definition in an .xsd file for the data you want to expose, use the JAXB schema compiler tool. Consider this simple example of an .xsd file:

<xs:schema targetNamespace="http://xml.product"
           xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"
           elementFormDefault="qualified"
           xmlns:myco="http://xml.product">
  <xs:element name="product" type="myco:Product"/>
  <xs:complexType name="Product">
    <xs:sequence>
      <xs:element name="id" type="xs:int"/>
      <xs:element name="name" type="xs:string"/>
      <xs:element name="description" type="xs:string"/>
      <xs:element name="price" type="xs:int"/>
    </xs:sequence>
  </xs:complexType>
</xs:schema>

Run the schema compiler tool on the command line as follows:

xjc Product.xsd

This command generates the source code for Java classes that correspond to the types defined in the .xsd file. The schema compiler tool generates a Java class for each complexType defined in the .xsd file. The fields of each generated Java class are the same as the elements inside the corresponding complexType, and the class contains getter and setter methods for these fields.

In this case, the schema compiler tool generates the classes product.xml.Product and product.xml.ObjectFactory. The Product class contains JAXB annotations, and its fields correspond to those in the .xsd definition:

@XmlAccessorType(XmlAccessType.FIELD)
@XmlType(name = "Product", propOrder = {
    "id",
    "name",
    "description",
    "price"
})
public class Product {
    protected int id;
    @XmlElement(required = true)
    protected String name;
    @XmlElement(required = true)
    protected String description;
    protected int price;

    // Setter and getter methods
    // ...
}

You can create instances of the Product class from your application (for example, from a database). The generated class product.xml.ObjectFactory contains a method that allows you to convert these objects to JAXB elements that can be returned as XML inside JAX-RS resource methods:

@XmlElementDecl(namespace = "http://xml.product", name = "product")
public JAXBElement<Product> createProduct(Product value) {
    return new JAXBElement<Product>(_Product_QNAME, Product.class, null, value);
}

The following code shows how to use the generated classes to return a JAXB element as XML in a JAX-RS resource method:

@Path("/product")
public class ProductService {
    @GET
    @Path("/get")
    @Produces("application/xml")
    public JAXBElement<Product> getProduct() {
        Product prod = new Product();
        prod.setId(1);
        prod.setName("Mattress");
        prod.setDescription("Queen size mattress");
        prod.setPrice(500);
        return new ObjectFactory().createProduct(prod);
    }
}

For @POST and @PUT resource methods, you can use a Product object directly as a parameter. JAX-RS maps the XML data from the request into a Product object.

@Path("/product")
public class ProductService {
    @GET
    // ...

    @POST
    @Path("/create")
    @Consumes("application/xml")
    public Response createProduct(Product prod) {
        // Process or store the product and return a response
        // ...
    }
}

Using JSON with JAX-RS and JAXB

JAX-RS can automatically read and write XML using JAXB, but it can also work with JSON data. JSON is a simple text-based format for data exchange derived from JavaScript. For the preceding examples, the XML representation of a product is

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<product>
  <id>1</id>
  <name>Mattress</name>
  <description>Queen size mattress</description>
  <price>500</price>
</product>

The equivalent JSON representation is

{
    "id":"1",
    "name":"Mattress",
    "description":"Queen size mattress",
    "price":500
}

You can add the format application/json or MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON to the @Produces annotation in resource methods to produce responses with JSON data:

@GET
@Path("/get")
@Produces({"application/xml","application/json"})
public Product getProduct() { ... }

In this example, the default response is XML, but the response is a JSON object if the client makes a GET request that includes this header:

Accept: application/json

The resource methods can also accept JSON data for JAXB annotated classes:

@POST
@Path("/create")
@Consumes({"application/xml","application/json"})
public Response createProduct(Product prod) { ... }

The client should include the following header when submitting JSON data with a POST request:

Content-Type: application/json

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