Returning JSONP from Java EE RESTful Web Services Using jQuery, Jersey, and GlassFish – Part 1 of 2

Create a Jersey-specific Java EE RESTful web service and an HTML-based client to call the service and display JSONP. Test and deploy the service and the client to different remote instances of GlassFish.

Background

According to Wikipedia, JSONP (JSON with Padding) is a complement to the base JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data format. It provides a method to request data from a server in a different domain, something prohibited by typical web browsers because of the same origin policy.

Jersey is the open source, production quality, JAX-RS (JSR 311) Reference Implementation for building RESTful Web services on the Java platform according to jersey.java.net. Jersey is a core component of GlassFish.

What do these two things have in common? One of the key features of Jersey is its ability to return JSONP.  According to Oracle’s documentation, using Jersey, if an instance is returned by a resource method and the most acceptable media type is one of application/javascript, application/x-javascript, text/ecmascript, application/ecmascript or text/jscript then the object that is contained by the instance is serialized as JSON (if supported, using the application/json media type) and the result is wrapped around a JavaScript callback function, whose name by default is “callback”. Otherwise, the object is serialized directly according to the most acceptable media type. This means that an instance can be used to produce the media types application/json, application/xml in addition to application.

There is plenty of opinions on the Internet about the pros and cons of using JSONP over other alternatives to get around the same origin policy. Regardless of the cons, JSONP, with the help of Jersey, provides the ability to call a RESTful web service from a remote server, without a lot of additional coding or security considerations.

Objectives

Similar to GlassFish, Jersey is also tightly integrated into NetBeans. NetBeans provides the option to use Jersey-specific features when creating RESTful web services. According to documentation, NetBeans will generate a web.xml deployment descriptor and to register the RESTful services in that deployment descriptor instead of generating an application configuration class. In this post, we will create Jersey-specific RESTful web service from a database using NetBeans. The service will return JSONP in addition to JSON and XML.

In addition to creating the RESTful web service, in part 2 of this series, we will create a simple web client to display the JSONP returned by the service. There are many options available for creating clients, depending on your development platform and project requirements. We will keep it simple – no complex compiled code, just simple JavaScript using Ajax and jQuery, the well-known JavaScript library.

We will host the RESTful web service on one GlassFish domain, running on a Windows box, along with the SQL Server database. We will host the client on a second GlassFish domain, running on an Ubuntu Linux VM using Oracle’s VM VirtualBox. This is a different machine than the service was installed on. When opened by the end-user in a web browser, the client files, including the JavaScript file that calls the service, are downloaded to the end-users machine. This will simulate a typical cross-domain situation where a client application needs to consume RESTful web services from a remote source. This is not allowed by the same origin policy, but overcome by returning JSONP to the client, which wraps the JSON payload in a function call.

Demonstration

Here are the high-level steps we will walk-through in this two-part series of posts:

  1. In a new RESTful web service web application project,
    1. Create an entity class from the Adventure Works database using EclipseLink;
    2. Create a Jersey-specific RESTful web service using the entity class using Jersey and JAXB;
    3. Add a new method to service, which leverages Jersey and Jackson’s abilities to return JSONP;
    4. Deploy the RESTful web service to a remote instance of GlassFish, using Apache Ant;
    5. Test the RESTful web service using cURL.
  2. In a new RESTful web service client web application project,
    1. Create a simple HTML client using jQuery and Ajax to call the RESTful web service;
    2. Add jQuery functionality to parse and display the JSONP returned by the service;
    3. Deploy the client to a separate remote instance of GlassFish using Apache Ant;
    4. Test the client’s ability to call the service across domains and display JSONP.

To demonstrate the example in this post, I have the follow applications installed, configured, and running in my development environment:

For the database we will use the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Adventure Works database I’ve used in the past few posts. For more on the Adventure Works database, see my post, ‘Convert VS 2010 Database Project to SSDT and Automate Publishing with Jenkins – Part 1/3’. Not using SQL Server? Once you’ve created your data source, most remaining steps in this post are independent of the database you choose, be it MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Derby, etc.

For a full explanation of the use of Jersey and Jackson JSON Processor, for non-Maven developers, as this post demonstrates, see this link to the Jersey 1.8 User Guide. It discusses several relevant topics to this article: Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB), JSON serialization, and natural JSON notation (or, convention). See this link from the User Guide, for more on natural JSON notation. Note this example does not implement natural JSON notation functionality.

Creating the RESTful Web Service

New NetBeans Web Application Project
Create a new Java Web Application project in NetBeans. Name the project. I named mine ‘JerseyRESTfulService’. The choice of GlassFish server and domain where the project will be deployed is unimportant. We will use Apache Ant to deploy the service when we finish the building the project. By default, I chose my local instance of GlassFish, for testing purposes.

01a - Create a New Web ApplicationProject in NetBeans

Create a New Web Application Project in NetBeans

01b - Create a New Web ApplicationProject in NetBeans

Name and Location of New Web Application Project

01c - Create a New Web Application Project in NetBeans

Server and Settings of New Web Application Project

01d - Create a New Web Application Project in NetBeans

Optional Frameworks to Include in New Web Application Project

01e - Create a New Web Application Project in NetBeans

View of New Web Application Project in NetBeans

Create Entity Class from Database
Right-click on the project again and select ‘New’ -> ‘Other…’. From the list of Categories, select ‘Persistence’. From the list of Persistence choices, choose ‘Entity Classes from Database’. Click Next.

02a - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Create Entity Classes from the Database

Before we can choose which database table we want from the Adventure Works database to create entity class, we must create a connection to the database – a SQL Server Data Source. Click on the Data Source drop down and select ‘New Data Source…’. Give a Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) name for the data source. I called mine ‘AdventureWorks_HumanResources’. Click on the ‘Database Connection’ drop down menu, select ‘New Database Connection…’.

02b - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Select Database Tables for Entity Classes (No Data Source Exists Yet)

02c - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Create and Name a New Data Source

This starts the ‘New Connection Wizard’. The first screen, ‘Locate Driver’, is where we point NetBeans to the Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server Driver. Locate the sqljdbc4.jar file.

02d - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Add the Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server Jar File

On the next screen, ‘Customize the Connection’, input the required SQL Server information. The host is the machine your instance of SQL Server is installed on, such as ‘localhost’. The instance is the name of the SQL Server instance in which the Adventure Works database is installed, such as ‘Development’. Once you complete the form, click ‘Test Connection’. If it doesn’t succeed, check your settings, again. Keep in mind, ‘localhost’ will only work if your SQL Server instance is local to your GlassFish server instance where the service will be deployed. If it is on a separate server, make sure to use that server’s IP address or domain name.

02e - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Configure New Database Connection

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the SQL Server Data Source forces you to select a single database schema. On the ‘Choose Database Schema’ screen, select the ‘HumanResources’ schema. The database tables you will be able to reference from you entity classes are limited to just this schema, when using this data source. To reference other schemas, you will need to create more data sources.

02f - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Select Human Resources Database Schema

Back in the ‘New Entity Classes from Database’ window, you will now have the ‘AdventureWorks’ data source selected as the Data Source. After a few seconds of processing, all ‘Available Tables’ within the ‘HumanResources’ schema are displayed. Choose the ‘vEmployee(view)’. A database view is a virtual database table. Note the Entity ID message. We will need to do an extra step later on, to use the entity class built from the database view.

02g - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Choice of Database Tables and Views from Human Resources Schema

02h - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Choose the ‘vEmployee(view)’ Database View

On the next screen, ‘Entity Classes’, in the ‘New Entity Classes from Database’ window, select or create the Package to place the individual entity classes into. I chose to call mine ‘entities’.

02i-create-entity-classes-from-the-database

Select/Create the Package Location for the Entity Class

On the next screen, ‘Mapping Options’, choose ‘Fully Qualified Database Table Names’. Without this option selected, I have had problems trying to make the RESTful web services function properly. This is also the reason I chose to create the entity classes first, and then create the RESTful web services, separately. NetBeans has an option that combines these two tasks into a single step, by choosing ‘RESTful Web Services from Database’. However, the ‘Fully Qualified Database Table Names’ option is not available on the equivalent screen, using that process (at least in my version of NetBeans 7.2). I prefer the two-step approach.

02j - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Select the ‘Fully Qualified Database Table Names’ Mapping Options

Click finished. You have successfully created the SQL Server data source and entity classes.

02k - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Project View of New VEmployee Entity Class

If you recall, I mentioned a problem with the entity class we created from the database view. To avoid an error when you build and deploy your project to GlassFish, we need to make a small change to the VEmployee.java entity class. Entity classes need a unique identifier, a primary key (or, Entity ID) identified. Since this entity class was built from database view, as opposed to database table, it lacks a primary key. To fix, annotate the businessEntityID field with @Id. This indicates that businessEntityID is the primary key (Entity ID) for this class. The field, businessEntityID, must contain unique values, for this to work properly. NetBeans will make the suggested correction for you, if you allow it.

02l - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Fix the Entity Class’s Missing Primary Key (Entity ID)

02m - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Fix the Entity Class’s Missing Primary Key (Entity ID)

02n - Create Entity Classes from the Database

Entity Class With Primary Key (Entity ID)

The JPA Persistence Unit is found in the ‘persistence.xml’ file in the ‘Configuration Files’ folder. This file describes the Persistence Unit (PU). The PU serves to register the project’s persistable entity class, which are referred to by JPA as ‘managed classes’.

02o - Create Entity Classes from the Database

View of New JPA Persistence Unit

The data source we created, which will be deployed to GlassFish, is referred to as a JDBC Resource and JDBC Connection Pool. This information is stored in the ‘glassfish-resources.xml’.

02p - Create Entity Classes from the Database

View of New JDBC Resource and JDBC Connection Pool

Create RESTful Web Service
Now that have a SQL Server Data Source and our entity class, we will create the RESTful web service. Right-click on the project and select ‘New’ -> ‘Other…’ -> ‘Persistence’ -> ‘RESTful Web Services from ‘Entity Classes’. You will see the entity class we just created, from which to choose. Add the entity class.

04a - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

04b - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Choose from List of Available Entity Classes

04c - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Choose the VEmployee Entity Class

On the next screen, select or create the Resource Package to store the service class in; I called mine ‘service’. Select the ‘Use Jersey Specific Features’ option.

04d - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Select/Create the Service’s Package Location and Select the Option to ‘Use Jersey Specific Features’

That’s it. You now have a Jersey-specific RESTful web service and the corresponding Enterprise Bean and Façade service class in the project.

04e - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Project View of New RESTful Web Service and Associated Files

NetBeans provides an easy way to test the RESTful web services, locally. Right-click on the ‘RESTful Web Services’ project folder within the main project, and select ‘Test RESTful Web Services’. Select the first option, ‘Locally Generated Test Client’, in the ‘Configure REST Test Client’ pop-up window. NetBeans will use the locally configured GlassFish instance to deploy and test the service.

NetBeans opens a web browser window and display the RESTful URIs (Universal Resource Identifier) for the service in a tree structure. There is a parent URI, ‘entities.vemployee’. Selecting this URI will return all employees from the vEmployee database view. The ‘entities.vemployee’ URI has additional children URIs grouped under it, including ‘{id}’, ‘count’, and ‘{from/to}’, each mapped to separate methods in the service class.

Click on the ‘{id}’ URI. Choose the HTTP ‘GET()’ request method from the drop-down, enter ‘1’  for ‘id’, and click the ‘Test’ button. The service should return a status of ‘200 (OK)’, along with xml output containing information on all the Adventure Works employees. Change the MIME type to ‘application/json’. This should return the same result, formatted as JSON. Congratulation, the RESTful web services have just returned data to your browser from the SQL Server Adventure Works database, using the entity classes and data source you created.

Are they URIs or URLs? I found this excellent post that does a very good job explaining the difference between the URL (how to get there) and the URI (the resource), which is part of the URL.

04f - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Test the RESTful Web Service Locally in NetBeans (XML  Response Shown)

04g - Create RESTful Web Services from Entity Classes

Test the RESTful Web Service Locally in NetBeans (JSON Response Shown)

Using Jersey for JSONP
GlassFish comes with the jersey-core.jar installed. In order to deliver JSONP, we also need to import and use com.sun.jersey.api.json.JSONWithPadding package from jersey-json.jar. I downloaded and installed version 1.8. You can download the jar from several locations. I chose to download it from www.java2.com. You can also download from the download.java.net Maven2 repository.

03b - Installing Jersey JSON

Add the Jersey JSON Jar File to the Project

The com.sun.jersey.api.json.JSONWithPadding package has dependencies two Jackson JSON Processor jars. You will also need to download the necessary Jackson JSON Processor jars. They are the jackson-core-asl-1.9.8.jar and jackson-mapper-asl-1.9.8.jar. At the time of this post, I downloaded the latest 1.9.8 versions from the grepcode.com Maven2 repository.

03e - Installing Jackson JSON Processor

Add the two Jackson JSON Processor Jar Files to the Project

Create New JSONP Method

NetBeans creates several default methods in the VEmployeeFacadeREST class. One of those is the findRange method. The method accepts two integer parameters, from and to. The parameter values are extracted from the URL (JAX-RS @Path annotation). The parameters are called path parameters (@PathParam). The method returns a List of VEmployee objects (List<VEmployee>). The findRange method can return two MIME types, XML and JSON (@Produces). The List<VEmployee> is serialized in either format and returned to the caller.

@GET
@Path("{from}/{to}")
@Produces({"application/xml", "application/json"})
public List<VEmployee> findRange(@PathParam("from") Integer from, @PathParam("to") Integer to) {
    return super.findRange(new int[]{from, to});
}

Neither XML nor JSON will do, we want to return JSONP. Well, using the JSONWithPadding class we can do just that. We will copy and re-write the findRange method to return JSONP. The new findRangeJsonP method looks similar to the findRange. However instead of returning a List<VEmployee>, the new method returns an instance of the JSONWithPadding class. Since List<E> extends Collection<E>, we make the same call as the first method, then cast the List<VEmployee> to Collection<VEmployee>. We then wrap the Collection in a GenericEntity<T>, which extends Object. The GenericEntity<T> represents a response entity of a generic type T. This is used to instantiate a new instance of the JSONWithPadding class, using the JSONWithPadding(Object jsonSource, String callbackName) constructor. The JSONWithPadding instance, which contains serialized JSON wrapped with the callback function, is returned to the client.

@GET
@Path("{from}/{to}/jsonp")
@Produces({"application/javascript"})
public JSONWithPadding findRangeJsonP(@PathParam("from") Integer from,
        @PathParam("to") Integer to, @QueryParam("callback") String callback) {
    Collection<VEmployee> employees = super.findRange(new int[]{from, to});
    return new JSONWithPadding(new GenericEntity<Collection<VEmployee>>(employees) {
    }, callback);
}

We have added a two new parts to the ‘from/to’ URL. First, we added ‘/jsonp’ to the end to signify the new findRangeJsonP method is to be called, instead of the original findRange method. Secondly, we added a new ‘callback’ query parameter (@QueryParam). The ‘callback’ parameter will pass in the name of the callback function, which will then be returned with the JSONP payload. The new URL format is as follows:

http://%5Byour-service's-glassfish-server-name%5D:%5Byour-service's-glassfish-domain-port%5D/JerseyRESTfulService/webresources/entities.vemployee/{from}/{to}/jsonp?callback={callback}

06a - Adding Jersey JSONP Method

Add the Following Jersey JSONP Method to the RESTful Web Service Class

06b - Adding Jersey JSONP Method

Adding the Method Requires Importing the ‘JSONWithPadding’ Library

Deployment to GlassFish
To deploy the RESTful web service to GlassFish, run the following Apache Ant target. The target first calls the clean and dist targets to build the .war file, Then, the target calls GlassFish’s asadmin deploy command. It specifies the remote GlassFish server, admin port, admin user, admin password (in the password file), secure or insecure connection, the name of the container, and the name of the .war file to be deployed. Note that the server is different for the service than it will be for the client in part 2 of the series.

<target name="glassfish-deploy-remote" depends="clean, dist"
        description="Build distribution (WAR) and deploy to GlassFish">
    <exec failonerror="true" executable="cmd" description="asadmin deploy">
        <arg value="/c" />
        <arg value="asadmin --host=[your-service's-glassfish-server-name] 
            --port=[your-service's-glassfish-domain-admin-port]
            --user=admin --passwordfile=pwdfile --secure=false
            deploy --force=true --name=JerseyRESTfulService
            --contextroot=/JerseyRESTfulServicedist\JerseyRESTfulService.war" />
    </exec>
</target>
Deploy RESTful Web Service to Remote GlassFish Server

Deploy RESTful Web Service to Remote GlassFish Server Using Apache Ant Target

In GlassFish, you should see the several new elements: 1) JerseyRESTfulService Application, 2) AdventureWorks_HumanResources JDBC Resource, 3) microsoft_sql_AdventureWorks_aw_devPool JDBC Connection Pool. These are the elements that were deployed by Ant. Also note, 4) the RESTful web service class, VEmployeeFacadeREST, is an EJB StatelessSessionBean.

08b - Deploy RESTful Web Service to Remote GlassFish Server

RESTful Web Service Deployed to Remote GlassFish Server

Test the Service with cURL
What is the easiest way to test our RESTful web service without a client? Answer, cURL, the free open-source URL tool. According to the website, “curl is a command line tool for transferring data with URL syntax, supporting DICT, FILE, FTP, FTPS, Gopher, HTTP, HTTPS, IMAP, IMAPS, LDAP, LDAPS, POP3, POP3S, RTMP, RTSP, SCP, SFTP, SMTP, SMTPS, Telnet and TFTP. curl supports SSL certificates, HTTP POST, HTTP PUT, FTP uploading, HTTP form based upload, proxies, cookies, user+password authentication (Basic, Digest, NTLM, Negotiate, kerberos…), file transfer resume, proxy tunneling and a busload of other useful tricks.

To use cURL, download and unzip the cURL package to your system’s Programs directory. Add the cURL directory path to your system’s PATH environmental variable. Better yet, create a CURL_HOME environmental variable and add that reference to the PATH variable, as I did. Adding the the cURL directory path to PATH allows you to call the cURL.exe application, directly from the command line.

07b - Test New Method with cURL

Add the cURL Directory Path to the ‘PATH’ Environmental Variable

With cURL installed, we can call the RESTful web service from the command line. To test the service’s new method, call it with the following cURL command:

curl -i -H "Accept: application/x-javascript" -X GET http://%5Byour-service's-glassfish-server-name%5D:%5Byour-service's-glassfish-domain-port%5D/JerseyRESTfulService/webresources/entities.vemployee/1/3/jsonp?callback=parseResponse

07c - Test New Method with cURL

Using cURL to Call RESTful Web Service and Return JSONP

Using cURL is great for testing the RESTful web service. However, the command line results are hard to read. I recommend copy the cURL results into NotePad++ with the JSON Viewer Plugin. Like the NotePad++ XML plugin, the JSON plugin will format the JSONP and provide a tree view of the data structure.

05c - Notepad++ JSON Viewer

Notepad++ Displaying JSONP Using the JSON Viewer Plugin

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have created and deployed a RESTful web service with a method capable of returning JSONP. In part 2 of this series, we will create a client to call the RESTful web service and display the JSONP response payload. There are many options available for creating clients, depending on your development platform and project requirements. We will keep it simple – no complex, compiled code, just simple JavaScript using Ajax and jQuery, the well-known JavaScript library.

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  1. #1 by About Java on December 29, 2012 - 8:03 am

    thanks for the article.. 🙂

  2. #2 by Gary A. Stafford on April 16, 2013 - 9:01 pm

    Thank you for reading.

    • #3 by manel on December 4, 2014 - 11:40 am

      nice tutorial. i tried some thing like that but it return an empty list of item. i don’t know what the pb exactly please can u publish the entire code .thx

  3. #4 by kumar on April 30, 2013 - 11:38 am

    nice tutorial

  4. #5 by Daniel Mendoza on May 26, 2013 - 6:50 pm

    Very useful, simple and nice. Thank you!

  5. #6 by Vaibhav on October 8, 2013 - 6:44 am

    Could please tell what is the best practice for exception handling in Restful webservice while returning JSONP…

  6. #7 by omisayeinfotechBartholomew on August 11, 2014 - 4:02 am

    Hello Greetings , i really appreciate your contribution in alleviating or helping those of us who find it difficult with Jsonp.Please Mr.Christopher i have tried your example it was indeed great experience,and it worked.please pleading is how can i post a zip,PDF or image data file using jquery Ajax ?please i have tried all the plugins i came across to in my java rest but it is not working for me.if you wouldn’t mind could you please bail me out of this ?thanks so much

  7. #8 by Bartholomew on August 11, 2014 - 4:04 am

    Hello Greetings , i really appreciate your contribution in alleviating or helping those of us who find it difficult with Jsonp.Please Mr.Christopher i have tried your example it was indeed great experience,and it worked.please pleading is how can i post a zip,PDF or image data file using jquery Ajax ?please i have tried all the plugins i came across to in my java rest but it is not working for me.if you wouldn’t mind could you please bail me out of this ?thanks so much

  8. #9 by manel on December 4, 2014 - 11:39 am

    nice tutorial. i tried some thing like that but it return an empty list of item. i don’t know what the pb exactly please can u publish the entire code .thx

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