Grails plugin containing common REST and general webservice functionality
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Grails plugin containing common REST and general webservice functionality


Build Status


compile ":ala-ws-plugin:x.y.z"

Note: this plugin MUST be declared as a compile time dependency.

Logging Config

If you want to see the raw data that is sent, add the following lines to your Config.groovy file's log4j config:

debug  "org.apache.http.wire",

The WebService class

This is intended as a common replacement for all application-specific implementations of the WebService class. It supports the following functionality:

See the groovydoc for API documentation.

// Inject the WebService class
WebService webService

// Invoke a service using the HTTP verb (get, post, put, delete)

All operations return a Map with the following structure:

For JSON request types: [statusCode: int, resp: [:]] on success, where resp is a Map containing the JSON response object, or [statusCode: int, error: string] on error, where error is the error message or HTTP status message.

Request Validation

The Grails recommended way to validate request parameters is to use either a Domain or a Command object, and implement the static constraints = {...} closure. E.g.

class MyController {
  def action1(ActionCommand command) {
    if (command.hasErrors()) {
      response.status = HttpStatus.SC_BAD_REQUEST
      response.sendError(HttpStatus.SC_BAD_REQUEST, command.errors.join(";"))
    } else {
      // do stuff

class ActionCommand {
  String param1
  String param2
  static constraints = {
    param1 nullable: false
    params2 minSize: 6

A more generalised validation approach is to use the Bean Validation standard.

This plugin provides a basic implementation of a grails filter that will validate requests using JSR-303 annotations. Any validation errors will result in a HTTP 400 (BAD_REQUEST). This pulls the validation code and the subsequent error handling out of the controller, allowing you to just annotate your actions and otherwise ignore validation. E.g.

class MyController {
  def action1(@NotNull String param1, @Size(min = 6) String param2) {
    // do stuff

This is equivalent in functionality to the Command Object example above, except you'll get a better error message.


  • bean validation support is only available for action methods. Action closures are NOT supported (because they are not the recommended way to implement controller actions).
  • to use bean validation for method arguments, you MUST specify the argument type. If you do not, the type will default to 'Object' and you'll get an error like No validator could be found for type: java.lang.Object.

Supported constraints

See the JavaEE 6 doco for a list of available annotations.

Custom constraints

As per the bean validation spec, any validation constraint annotation (including custom annotations, as long as the annotation is itself annotated with @Constraint meta-annotation) can be used to validate the request parameters.

In addition to the JavaEE 6 core constraints, this plugin provides a number of custom constraints in the package, such as

  • UUID - performs a regex pattern match to ensure the parameter is a valid UUID

External configuration properties

  • webservice.apiKey The ALA api key to be included in each request (in the apiKey header field) when includeApiKey = true. API Keys are intended to be used with the ALA WS Security Plugin.
  • webservice.apiKeyHeader Override the default name of the apiKey header. This applied to all service calls - if you need to change the name for a single service, then you'll need to pass in the api key in a custom header via the API.
  • webservice.connect.timeout The connect timeout setting for all web service requests (default is 5 minutes).
  • The read timeout setting for all web service requests (default is 5 minutes).
  • webservice.socket.timeout The socket timeout setting for all web service requests (default is 5 minutes).
  • app.http.header.userId The header name for the ALA user details (used by the auth framework). Defaults to X-ALA-userId.

Traits & Base classes


Provides convenience methods for sending common errors (not found, bad request, etc), and for handling the response from the class.


class MyController implements BasicWSController {
    WebService webService
    def getSomething() {
        handleWSResponse webService.get(...)
    def lookup(String id) {
        MyEntity m = MyEntity.findById(id)
        if (m) {
        } else {
            notFound "No record was found with id ${id}"

Integration Testing

This plugin uses Ratpack to set up an embedded http server for the tests. Ratpack makes doing this extremely easy, and allows us to write integration tests which invoke real http services so we can check that the WebService class has set the appropriate headers, cookies, etc.

Ratpack requires Java 1.8, so if you are modifying this plugin, be sure to use jdk8.

Dev environment set up

  1. Clone the repo
  2. Import the source into your IDE
  3. Use Grails version 3.2.11
  4. Use JDK 1.8

To test changes locally, set the plugin as a local plugin on a grails application:

  1. In the host application's BuildConfig.groovy
  2. Comment out (if present) the existing dependency on ala-ws-plugin
  3. Add grails.plugin.location.ala-ws-plugin = "/path/to/local/ala-ws-plugin"