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Writing JSON REST Services

JSON is now the lingua franca between microservices.

In this guide, we see how you can get your REST services to consume and produce JSON payloads.

there is another guide if you need a REST client (including support for JSON).

This is an introduction to writing JSON REST services with Quarkus. A more detailed guide about RESTEasy Reactive is available here.

Prerequisites

To complete this guide, you need:

  • Roughly 15 minutes

  • An IDE

  • JDK 11+ installed with JAVA_HOME configured appropriately

  • Apache Maven 3.8.1+

  • Optionally the Quarkus CLI if you want to use it

  • Optionally Mandrel or GraalVM installed and configured appropriately if you want to build a native executable (or Docker if you use a native container build)

Architecture

The application built in this guide is quite simple: the user can add elements in a list using a form and the list is updated.

All the information between the browser and the server are formatted as JSON.

Solution

We recommend that you follow the instructions in the next sections and create the application step by step. However, you can go right to the completed example.

Clone the Git repository: git clone https://github.com/quarkusio/quarkus-quickstarts.git, or download an archive.

The solution is located in the rest-json-quickstart directory.

Creating the Maven project

First, we need a new project. Create a new project with the following command:

CLI
quarkus create app org.acme:rest-json-quickstart \
    --extension=resteasy-reactive-jackson \
    --no-code
cd rest-json-quickstart

To create a Gradle project, add the --gradle or --gradle-kotlin-dsl option.

For more information about how to install the Quarkus CLI and use it, please refer to the Quarkus CLI guide.

Maven
mvn io.quarkus.platform:quarkus-maven-plugin:2.13.0.Final:create \
    -DprojectGroupId=org.acme \
    -DprojectArtifactId=rest-json-quickstart \
    -Dextensions="resteasy-reactive-jackson" \
    -DnoCode
cd rest-json-quickstart

To create a Gradle project, add the -DbuildTool=gradle or -DbuildTool=gradle-kotlin-dsl option.

This command generates a new project importing the RESTEasy Reactive/JAX-RS and Jackson extensions, and in particular adds the following dependency:

pom.xml
<dependency>
    <groupId>io.quarkus</groupId>
    <artifactId>quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jackson</artifactId>
</dependency>
build.gradle
implementation("io.quarkus:quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jackson")

To improve user experience, Quarkus registers the three Jackson Java 8 modules so you don’t need to do it manually.

Quarkus also supports JSON-B so, if you prefer JSON-B over Jackson, you can create a project relying on the RESTEasy Reactive JSON-B extension instead:

CLI
quarkus create app org.acme:rest-json-quickstart \
    --extension=resteasy-reactive-jsonb \
    --no-code
cd rest-json-quickstart

To create a Gradle project, add the --gradle or --gradle-kotlin-dsl option.

For more information about how to install the Quarkus CLI and use it, please refer to the Quarkus CLI guide.

Maven
mvn io.quarkus.platform:quarkus-maven-plugin:2.13.0.Final:create \
    -DprojectGroupId=org.acme \
    -DprojectArtifactId=rest-json-quickstart \
    -Dextensions="resteasy-reactive-jsonb" \
    -DnoCode
cd rest-json-quickstart

To create a Gradle project, add the -DbuildTool=gradle or -DbuildTool=gradle-kotlin-dsl option.

This command generates a new project importing the RESTEasy Reactive/JAX-RS and JSON-B extensions, and in particular adds the following dependency:

pom.xml
<dependency>
    <groupId>io.quarkus</groupId>
    <artifactId>quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jsonb</artifactId>
</dependency>
build.gradle
implementation("io.quarkus:quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jsonb")

While named "reactive", RESTEasy Reactive supports equally well both traditional blocking patterns and reactive patterns.

For more information about RESTEasy Reactive, please refer to the dedicated guide.

Creating your first JSON REST service

In this example, we will create an application to manage a list of fruits.

First, let’s create the Fruit bean as follows:

package org.acme.rest.json;

public class Fruit {

    public String name;
    public String description;

    public Fruit() {
    }

    public Fruit(String name, String description) {
        this.name = name;
        this.description = description;
    }
}

Nothing fancy. One important thing to note is that having a default constructor is required by the JSON serialization layer.

Now, create the org.acme.rest.json.FruitResource class as follows:

package org.acme.rest.json;

import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.LinkedHashMap;
import java.util.Set;

import javax.ws.rs.DELETE;
import javax.ws.rs.GET;
import javax.ws.rs.POST;
import javax.ws.rs.Path;

@Path("/fruits")
public class FruitResource {

    private Set<Fruit> fruits = Collections.newSetFromMap(Collections.synchronizedMap(new LinkedHashMap<>()));

    public FruitResource() {
        fruits.add(new Fruit("Apple", "Winter fruit"));
        fruits.add(new Fruit("Pineapple", "Tropical fruit"));
    }

    @GET
    public Set<Fruit> list() {
        return fruits;
    }

    @POST
    public Set<Fruit> add(Fruit fruit) {
        fruits.add(fruit);
        return fruits;
    }

    @DELETE
    public Set<Fruit> delete(Fruit fruit) {
        fruits.removeIf(existingFruit -> existingFruit.name.contentEquals(fruit.name));
        return fruits;
    }
}

The implementation is pretty straightforward, and you just need to define your endpoints using the JAX-RS annotations.

The Fruit objects will be automatically serialized/deserialized by JSON-B or Jackson, depending on the extension you chose when initializing the project.

When a JSON extension is installed such as quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jackson or quarkus-resteasy-reactive-jsonb, Quarkus will use the application/json media type by default for most return values, unless the media type is explicitly set via @Produces or @Consumes annotations (there are some exceptions for well known types, such as String and File, which default to text/plain and application/octet-stream respectively).

Configuring JSON support

Jackson

In Quarkus, the default Jackson ObjectMapper obtained via CDI (and consumed by the Quarkus extensions) is configured to ignore unknown properties (by disabling the DeserializationFeature.FAIL_ON_UNKNOWN_PROPERTIES feature).

You can restore the default behavior of Jackson by setting quarkus.jackson.fail-on-unknown-properties=true in your application.properties or on a per-class basis via @JsonIgnoreProperties(ignoreUnknown = false).

Furthermore, the ObjectMapper is configured to format dates and time in ISO-8601 (by disabling the SerializationFeature.WRITE_DATES_AS_TIMESTAMPS feature).

The default behaviour of Jackson can be restored by setting quarkus.jackson.write-dates-as-timestamps=true in your application.properties. If you want to change the format for a single field, you can use the @JsonFormat annotation.

Also, Quarkus makes it very easy to configure various Jackson settings via CDI beans. The simplest (and suggested) approach is to define a CDI bean of type io.quarkus.jackson.ObjectMapperCustomizer inside of which any Jackson configuration can be applied.

An example where a custom module needs to be registered would look like so:

import com.fasterxml.jackson.databind.ObjectMapper;
import io.quarkus.jackson.ObjectMapperCustomizer;
import javax.inject.Singleton;

@Singleton
public class RegisterCustomModuleCustomizer implements ObjectMapperCustomizer {

    public void customize(ObjectMapper mapper) {
        mapper.registerModule(new CustomModule());
    }
}

Users can even provide their own ObjectMapper bean if they so choose. If this is done, it is very important to manually inject and apply all io.quarkus.jackson.ObjectMapperCustomizer beans in the CDI producer that produces ObjectMapper. Failure to do so will prevent Jackson specific customizations provided by various extensions from being applied.

import com.fasterxml.jackson.databind.ObjectMapper;
import io.quarkus.jackson.ObjectMapperCustomizer;

import javax.enterprise.inject.Instance;
import javax.enterprise.inject.Produces;
import javax.inject.Singleton;

public class CustomObjectMapper {

    // Replaces the CDI producer for ObjectMapper built into Quarkus
    @Singleton
    @Produces
    ObjectMapper objectMapper(Instance<ObjectMapperCustomizer> customizers) {
        ObjectMapper mapper = myObjectMapper(); // Custom `ObjectMapper`

        // Apply all ObjectMapperCustomizer beans (incl. Quarkus)
        for (ObjectMapperCustomizer customizer : customizers) {
            customizer.customize(mapper);
        }

        return mapper;
    }
}
Mixin support

Quarkus automates the registration of Jackson’s Mixin support, via the io.quarkus.jackson.JacksonMixin annotation. This annotation can be placed on classes that are meant to be used as Jackson mixins while the classes they are meant to customize are defined as the value of the annotation.

JSON-B

As stated above, Quarkus provides the option of using JSON-B instead of Jackson via the use of the quarkus-resteasy-jsonb extension.

Following the same approach as described in the previous section, JSON-B can be configured using a io.quarkus.jsonb.JsonbConfigCustomizer bean.

If for example a custom serializer named FooSerializer for type com.example.Foo needs to be registered with JSON-B, the addition of a bean like the following would suffice:

import io.quarkus.jsonb.JsonbConfigCustomizer;
import javax.inject.Singleton;
import javax.json.bind.JsonbConfig;
import javax.json.bind.serializer.JsonbSerializer;

@Singleton
public class FooSerializerRegistrationCustomizer implements JsonbConfigCustomizer {

    public void customize(JsonbConfig config) {
        config.withSerializers(new FooSerializer());
    }
}

A more advanced option would be to directly provide a bean of javax.json.bind.JsonbConfig (with a Dependent scope) or in the extreme case to provide a bean of type javax.json.bind.Jsonb (with a Singleton scope). If the latter approach is leveraged it is very important to manually inject and apply all io.quarkus.jsonb.JsonbConfigCustomizer beans in the CDI producer that produces javax.json.bind.Jsonb. Failure to do so will prevent JSON-B specific customizations provided by various extensions from being applied.

import io.quarkus.jsonb.JsonbConfigCustomizer;

import javax.enterprise.context.Dependent;
import javax.enterprise.inject.Instance;
import javax.json.bind.JsonbConfig;

public class CustomJsonbConfig {

    // Replaces the CDI producer for JsonbConfig built into Quarkus
    @Dependent
    JsonbConfig jsonConfig(Instance<JsonbConfigCustomizer> customizers) {
        JsonbConfig config = myJsonbConfig(); // Custom `JsonbConfig`

        // Apply all JsonbConfigCustomizer beans (incl. Quarkus)
        for (JsonbConfigCustomizer customizer : customizers) {
            customizer.customize(config);
        }

        return config;
    }
}

Creating a frontend

Now let’s add a simple web page to interact with our FruitResource. Quarkus automatically serves static resources located under the META-INF/resources directory. In the src/main/resources/META-INF/resources directory, add a fruits.html file with the content from this fruits.html file in it.

You can now interact with your REST service:

  • start Quarkus with:

    CLI
    quarkus dev
    Maven
    ./mvnw quarkus:dev
    Gradle
    ./gradlew --console=plain quarkusDev
  • open a browser to http://localhost:8080/fruits.html

  • add new fruits to the list via the form

Building a native executable

You can build a native executable with the usual command:

CLI
quarkus build --native
Maven
./mvnw install -Dnative
Gradle
./gradlew build -Dquarkus.package.type=native

Running it is as simple as executing ./target/rest-json-quickstart-1.0.0-SNAPSHOT-runner.

You can then point your browser to http://localhost:8080/fruits.html and use your application.

About serialization

JSON serialization libraries use Java reflection to get the properties of an object and serialize them.

When using native executables with GraalVM, all classes that will be used with reflection need to be registered. The good news is that Quarkus does that work for you most of the time. So far, we haven’t registered any class, not even Fruit, for reflection usage and everything is working fine.

Quarkus performs some magic when it is capable of inferring the serialized types from the REST methods. When you have the following REST method, Quarkus determines that Fruit will be serialized:

@GET
public List<Fruit> list() {
    // ...
}

Quarkus does that for you automatically by analyzing the REST methods at build time and that’s why we didn’t need any reflection registration in the first part of this guide.

Another common pattern in the JAX-RS world is to use the Response object. Response comes with some nice perks:

  • you can return different entity types depending on what happens in your method (a Legume or an Error for instance);

  • you can set the attributes of the Response (the status comes to mind in the case of an error).

Your REST method then looks like this:

@GET
public Response list() {
    // ...
}

It is not possible for Quarkus to determine at build time the type included in the Response as the information is not available. In this case, Quarkus won’t be able to automatically register for reflection the required classes.

This leads us to our next section.

Using Response

Let’s create the Legume class which will be serialized as JSON, following the same model as for our Fruit class:

package org.acme.rest.json;

public class Legume {

    public String name;
    public String description;

    public Legume() {
    }

    public Legume(String name, String description) {
        this.name = name;
        this.description = description;
    }
}

Now let’s create a LegumeResource REST service with only one method which returns the list of legumes.

This method returns a Response and not a list of Legume.

package org.acme.rest.json;

import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.LinkedHashSet;
import java.util.Set;

import javax.ws.rs.GET;
import javax.ws.rs.Path;
import javax.ws.rs.core.Response;

@Path("/legumes")
public class LegumeResource {

    private Set<Legume> legumes = Collections.synchronizedSet(new LinkedHashSet<>());

    public LegumeResource() {
        legumes.add(new Legume("Carrot", "Root vegetable, usually orange"));
        legumes.add(new Legume("Zucchini", "Summer squash"));
    }

    @GET
    public Response list() {
        return Response.ok(legumes).build();
    }
}

Now let’s add a simple web page to display our list of legumes. In the src/main/resources/META-INF/resources directory, add a legumes.html file with the content from this legumes.html file in it.

Open a browser to http://localhost:8080/legumes.html, and you will see our list of legumes.

The interesting part starts when running the application as a native executable:

  • create the native executable with:

    CLI
    quarkus build --native
    Maven
    ./mvnw install -Dnative
    Gradle
    ./gradlew build -Dquarkus.package.type=native
  • execute it with ./target/rest-json-quickstart-1.0.0-SNAPSHOT-runner

  • open a browser and go to http://localhost:8080/legumes.html

No legumes there.

As mentioned above, the issue is that Quarkus was not able to determine the Legume class will require some reflection by analyzing the REST endpoints. The JSON serialization library tries to get the list of fields of Legume and gets an empty list, so it does not serialize the fields' data.

At the moment, when JSON-B or Jackson tries to get the list of fields of a class, if the class is not registered for reflection, no exception will be thrown. GraalVM will simply return an empty list of fields.

Hopefully, this will change in the future and make the error more obvious.

We can register Legume for reflection manually by adding the @RegisterForReflection annotation on our Legume class:

import io.quarkus.runtime.annotations.RegisterForReflection;

@RegisterForReflection
public class Legume {
    // ...
}
The @RegisterForReflection annotation instructs Quarkus to keep the class and its members during the native compilation. More details about the @RegisterForReflection annotation can be found on the native application tips page.

Let’s do that and follow the same steps as before:

  • hit Ctrl+C to stop the application

  • create the native executable with:

    CLI
    quarkus build --native
    Maven
    ./mvnw install -Dnative
    Gradle
    ./gradlew build -Dquarkus.package.type=native
  • execute it with ./target/rest-json-quickstart-1.0.0-SNAPSHOT-runner

  • open a browser and go to http://localhost:8080/legumes.html

This time, you can see our list of legumes.

Being reactive

You can return reactive types to handle asynchronous processing. Quarkus recommends the usage of Mutiny to write reactive and asynchronous code.

RESTEasy Reactive is naturally integrated with Mutiny.

Your endpoints can return Uni or Multi instances:

@GET
@Path("/{name}")
public Uni<Fruit> getOne(String name) {
    return findByName(name);
}

@GET
public Multi<Fruit> getAll() {
    return findAll();
}

Use Uni when you have a single result. Use Multi when you have multiple items that may be emitted asynchronously.

You can use Uni and Response to return asynchronous HTTP responses: Uni<Response>.

More details about Mutiny can be found in Mutiny - an intuitive reactive programming library.

Conclusion

Creating JSON REST services with Quarkus is easy as it relies on proven and well known technologies.

As usual, Quarkus further simplifies things under the hood when running your application as a native executable.

There is only one thing to remember: if you use Response and Quarkus can’t determine the beans that are serialized, you need to annotate them with @RegisterForReflection.