Friday, June 29, 2012

Stackoverflow personal milestone of 200 answers

I finally reached a personal milestone in Stackoverflow - answering 200 questions and 3000 reps. I have seen some people answer 2000+ questions, so this is not really a big deal, but it is personally very satisfying for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spring Integration presentation at IndyJUG

I spoke on Spring Integration and Enterprise Integration patterns at the IndyJUG today. I thought the presentation was well received and I got some very good questions from the audience.

Here is my presentation:

And the sample project to go with the presentation:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rube Goldberg Spring Integration

Spring Integration provides a very nice abstraction over some complexities involved with Integrating systems together - Spring Integration fits the definition of a Facade perfectly from an Integration perspective- something that provides a simplified access to a complicated underlying system.

To illustrate this point, consider a simple system, which just takes in a message, and sends it back capitalized, call it the Echo Gateway:

public interface EchoGateway { 
    String echo(String message);

and a test for this:
 public void testEcho() {
  String response = echoGateway.echo("Hello");
  assertThat(response, is("HELLO"));

Sounds simple so far, an implementation using spring integration would take in the "message" and "transform" it by converting to its upper case and returning the enhanced message.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<beans:beans xmlns=""
  <channel id="requestChannel"/>
  <gateway id="echoGateway" service-interface="rube.simple.EchoGateway" default-request-channel="requestChannel" />
  <transformer input-channel="requestChannel" expression="payload.toUpperCase()" />  

Works beautifully!!

The beauty of Spring Integration is that even if the Integration scenario grows complex, the facade that it presents back to the application continues to remain simple,

Consider a Rube Goldberg integration scenario:

First a diagram to describe the convoluted flow:

So what exactly does it do:

  • It takes in a message of this type - "hello from spring integ",
  • splits it up into individual words(hello, from, spring, integ), 
  • sends each word to a ActiveMQ queue, 
  • from the queue the word fragments are picked up by a enricher to capitalize each word, 
  • placing the response back into a response queue, 
  • It is picked up, resequenced based on the original sequence of the words, 
  • aggregated back into a sentence("HELLO FROM SPRING INTEG") and 
  • returned back to the application.

This is how a Spring Integration configuration for this kind of flow would look like:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<beans:beans xmlns=""
  <beans:import resource="broker.xml"/>

  <channel id="requestChannel">
  <channel id="responseChannel">

  <gateway id="echoGateway" service-interface="rube.complicated.EchoGateway" default-request-channel="requestChannel" default-reply-channel="responseChannel" default-reply-timeout="5000" />
  <channel id="toJmsOutbound"/>
  <splitter input-channel="requestChannel" output-channel="toJmsOutbound" expression="payload.split('\s')">
  <channel id="sequenceChannel">

  <int-jms:outbound-gateway request-channel="toJmsOutbound" reply-channel="sequenceChannel" request-destination="amq.outbound" extract-request-payload="true" />

  <channel id="enhanceMessageChannel"/>
  <channel id="toReplyQueueChannel"/>
  <int-jms:inbound-gateway request-channel="enhanceMessageChannel" request-destination="amq.outbound" reply-channel="toReplyQueueChannel"/>

  <transformer input-channel="enhanceMessageChannel" expression="(payload + '').toUpperCase()" output-channel="toReplyQueueChannel"/>
  <resequencer input-channel="sequenceChannel" output-channel="aggregateChannel" release-partial-sequences="false"></resequencer>
  <aggregator input-channel="aggregateChannel" output-channel="responseChannel"  expression="T(' ').join(![payload].toArray())"/>
  <poller id="poller" fixed-delay="500" default="true"/>

There is so much complexity in this flow(hence the Rube Goldberg), however the facade that Spring Integration provides to the application continues to remain very simple.

 public void testEcho() throws Exception{
  String amessage = "Hello from Spring Integration";
  String response = echoGateway.echo(amessage);
  assertThat(response, is("HELLO FROM SPRING INTEGRATION"));

This in my mind is the essence of Spring Integration

I have a github repository with this code at

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spring PropertySourcesPlaceholderConfigurer - overriding properties for tests

PropertySourcesPlaceholderConfigurer provides a good way to load in configuration from property files and populate the Spring bean definition property values. It is configured using a custom tag provided by Spring:

<context:property-placeholder location="classpath*:META-INF/spring/"/>

Say, for eg, if I had peristenceUnitName as a property loaded in from, I could use this property to configure my EntityManagerFactory:

<bean class="org.springframework.orm.jpa.LocalContainerEntityManagerFactoryBean" id="entityManagerFactory">
    <property name="dataSource" ref="dataSource"/>
    <property name="persistenceUnitName" value="${persistenceUnitName}"></property>

So, now I want to override the name of the persistence unit for running my tests. A reasonable solution would be to define another PropertySourcesPlaceholderConfigurer in the test context with a different value of the "persistenceUnitName", this will work if the test placeholder is loaded up BEFORE the main application context.

A better way to go about doing this is using a local-override flag of property-placeholder tag, what this indicates is that the local properties should have a higher precedence over the one's loaded from the file -

<context:property-placeholder location="classpath*:META-INF/spring/" local-override="true" properties-ref="localProperties"/>

<util:properties id="localProperties">

I have provided a dummy localProperties above, just as a place holder.

So now, to override the desired properties in test, the only thing that needs to be done is to define a new localProperties bean this way:
<util:properties id="localProperties">
     <prop key="persistenceUnitName">TEST-tasksPersitenceUnit</prop>

This I feel is a much cleaner approach to defining placeholder properties that are to be overridden in the tests.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Creating a Java Dynamic Proxy

Java Dynamic proxy mechanism provides an interesting way to create proxy instances. The steps to create a dynamic proxy is a little tedious though, consider a proxy to be used for auditing the time taken for a method call for a service instance -

public interface InventoryService {
    public Inventory create(Inventory inventory);
    public List<Inventory> list();
    public Inventory findByVin(String vin);
    public Inventory update(Inventory inventory);
    public boolean delete(Long id);
    public Inventory compositeUpdateService(String vin, String newMake);

The steps to create a dynamic proxy for instances of this interface is along these lines:
1. Create an instance of a java.lang.reflect.InvocationHandler, this will be responsible for handling the method calls on behalf of the actual service instance, a sample Invocation handler for auditing is the following:
public class AuditProxy implements java.lang.reflect.InvocationHandler {

    private Object obj;

    public static Object newInstance(Object obj) {
        return java.lang.reflect.Proxy.newProxyInstance(obj.getClass().getClassLoader(), obj
                .getClass().getInterfaces(), new AuditProxy(obj));

    private AuditProxy(Object obj) {
        this.obj = obj;

    public Object invoke(Object proxy, Method m, Object[] args) throws Throwable {
        Object result;
        try {
  "before method " + m.getName());
            long start = System.nanoTime();
            result = m.invoke(obj, args);
            long end = System.nanoTime();
  "%s took %d ns", m.getName(), (end-start)) );
        } catch (InvocationTargetException e) {
            throw e.getTargetException(); 
        } catch (Exception e) {
            throw new RuntimeException("unexpected invocation exception: " + e.getMessage());
        } finally {
  "after method " + m.getName());
        return result;

2. When creating instances of InventoryService, return a proxy which in this case is the AuditProxy, composing instances of InventoryService, which can be better explained using a UML:

This is how it would look in code:
InventoryService inventoryService = (InventoryService)AuditProxy.newInstance(new DefaultInventoryService());

Now, any calls to inventoryService will be via the AuditProxy instance, which would measure the time taken in the method while delegating the actual method call to the InventoryService instance.

So what are proxies used for:
1. Spring AOP uses it extensively - it internally creates a dynamic proxy for different AOP constructs
2. As in this example, for any class decoration - AOP will definitely be a better fit for such a use case though
3. For any frameworks needing to support interface and annotation based features - A real proxied instance need not even exist, a dynamic proxy can recreate the behavior expected of an interface, based on some meta-data provided through annotations.