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README.markdown

README.markdown

Message-Driven Beans Today

A while ago I blogged about how the MDB/Connector relationship works and proposed a change to the model that would finally unlock the great potential of this long misunderstood technology.

The example used in that blog was a fictitious "Email" Connector. While it did a great job explaining the moving parts of the Connector/MDB relationship, it didn't go far enough. This is a continuation of that study presenting a functional Connector that does something very non-asynchronous, Telnet.

The goal of this example is to better stress some important and often misunderstood concepts about the Connector/MDB model so we can better see its potential and improve it. Specifically to show how the Connector has near 100% of the control of the bean, its lifecycle, and how and when it is invoked.

This Telnet Connector intentionally diverges from the typical JMS-centric view and demonstrates:

  • MDBs can be stateful
  • MDBs can be synchronous
  • The "listener" interface is effectively no different than a business interface
  • Just about anything can be done with a Connector

Writing a Connector

To create your own Connector, you have a very short checklist. You must supply:

  • An implementation of javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapter
  • An implementation of javax.resource.spi.ActivationSpec
  • A "message listener" interface
  • A ra.xml file

The message listener interface is what you will expect all your MDBs to implement and it is entirely up to you as the Connector Provider how you wish to design it. It doesn't have to extend any other interfaces or have methods of a specific style or pattern. Sky is the limit.

The activation spec is a plain java bean of the getter/setter variety. It serves as a configuration mechanism. You use it to expose any configuration options you like to the Application Developer.

The resource adapter is bascially the code that does the real work. It creates (activates) the MDB whenever it wants and invokes it as it sees fit. It's not unlike any other code that can invoke an EJB. Unlike other code that runs in a container it can open sockets, accept connections, start threads and more. It doesn't have to do any of these complicated things, but it can.

The ra.xml file simply ties the above three parts together and describes them to the container so that when a bean is deployed using our message listener interface the container knows to give it to our resource adapter to manage.

So in short:

  • message listener interface is like a business interface for an EJB
  • resource adapter is the code that invokes the EJB
  • activation spec is a configuration object

Telnet Connector

Our Telnet Connector is a simple service that opens a port, accepts telnet connections and treats commands typed in the terminal as method invocations. The message listener interface determines which commands are available, the MDB supplies the logic of what these commands do, the Connector takes care of the rest.

A user will connect with a telnet client which will cause our resource adapter to ask the container for an instance of the MDB. We will let the user invoke the MDB as much as he or she likes. When the telnet client exits, the connection is closed and the the MDB is destroyed.

All our Connector code will be in the package package com.superconnectors.telnet so we can keep it clear that this is not "application code", but code supplied by the Connector Provider, which in this situation is us.

Note that the code itself is meant as a functional example, however it is still an example. Proper exception hanlding and other aspects that make good production code are lacking.

Telnet message listener interface

The interface we expect MDBs to implement to use our Telnet Connector is fairly trivial set of fixed commands.

package com.superconnectors.telnet.api;

import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public interface TelnetListener {
    public String doDate();

    public String doJoke();

    public String doList(Pattern pattern);

    public String doSet(String key, String value);

    public String doGet(String key);

    public int doAdd(int a, int b);
}

It would be wonderful if the Application Developer could chose the commands which are available, however this is as close as we can get and still have strongly typed methods. The alternative would be a too generic method public Object doCommand(String name, String[] args), which is not very expressive and ultimately one step short of reflection and creates a lot of work for the user.

For now we'll live with our less flexible, but far easier set of commands.

Telnet ActivationSpec

The following is the ActivationSpec for our Telnet Connector. It has one configuration options; prompt

package com.superconnectors.telnet.adapter;

//imports

public class TelnetActivationSpec implements ActivationSpec {

    private ResourceAdapter resourceAdapter;
    private final List<Cmd> cmds = new ArrayList<Cmd>();
    private String prompt;

    public String getPrompt() {
        return prompt;
    }

    public void setPrompt(String prompt) {
        this.prompt = prompt;
    }

    public List<Cmd> getCmds() {
        return cmds;
    }

    @Override
    public void validate() throws InvalidPropertyException {
        if (prompt == null || prompt.length() == 0) {
            prompt = "prompt>";
        }

        final Method[] methods = TelnetListener.class.getMethods();
        for (Method method : methods) {
            if (method.getName().startsWith("do")) {
                final StringBuilder name = new StringBuilder(method.getName());
                name.delete(0, 2);
                name.setCharAt(0, Character.toLowerCase(name.charAt(0)));
                cmds.add(new Cmd(name.toString(), method));
            }
        }
    }

    @Override
    public ResourceAdapter getResourceAdapter() {
        return resourceAdapter;
    }

    @Override
    public void setResourceAdapter(ResourceAdapter ra) throws ResourceException {
        this.resourceAdapter = ra;
    }
}

The Application Developer can set prompt via the standard EJB @javax.ejb.ActivationConfigProperty annotations in the @javax.ejb.MessageDriven annotation on the class where the MDB is declared.

The MDB Container creates the TelnetActivationSpec instance, sets the prompt using the data from the @MessageDrive & @ActivationConfigProperty annotations, then hands it to our Resource Adapter.

Telnet ResourceAdapter

Here is the actual ResourceAdapter implementation code with the telnet details moved to another class so we can focus on seeing the basic parts any ResourceAdapter needs to do.

The creation process is very simple. The endpointActivation is called by the MDB Container when an MDB that implements TelnetListener is deployed. In this method our ResourceAdapter is given essentially a factory for creating instances of TelnetListener along with the configuration object (ActivationSpec instance).

package com.superconnectors.telnet.adapter;

import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.TelnetListener;
import com.superconnectors.telnet.impl.TelnetServer;

import javax.resource.ResourceException;
import javax.resource.spi.ActivationSpec;
import javax.resource.spi.BootstrapContext;
import javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapterInternalException;
import javax.resource.spi.endpoint.MessageEndpoint;
import javax.resource.spi.endpoint.MessageEndpointFactory;
import javax.transaction.xa.XAResource;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.util.HashMap;
import java.util.Map;

/**
 * @version $Revision$ $Date$
 */
public class TelnetResourceAdapter implements javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapter {

    private final Map<Integer, TelnetServer> activated = new HashMap<Integer, TelnetServer>();

    /**
     * Corresponds to the ra.xml <config-property>
     */
    private int port;

    public int getPort() {
        return port;
    }

    public void setPort(int port) {
        this.port = port;
    }

    public void start(BootstrapContext bootstrapContext) throws ResourceAdapterInternalException {
    }

    public void stop() {
    }

    public void endpointActivation(MessageEndpointFactory messageEndpointFactory, ActivationSpec activationSpec) throws ResourceException {
        final TelnetActivationSpec telnetActivationSpec = (TelnetActivationSpec) activationSpec;

        final MessageEndpoint messageEndpoint = messageEndpointFactory.createEndpoint(null);

        // This messageEndpoint instance is also castable to the ejbClass of the MDB
        final TelnetListener telnetListener = (TelnetListener) messageEndpoint;

        final TelnetServer telnetServer = new TelnetServer(telnetActivationSpec, telnetListener, port);

        try {
            telnetServer.activate();
            activated.put(port, telnetServer);
        } catch (IOException e) {
            throw new ResourceException(e);
        }
    }

    public void endpointDeactivation(MessageEndpointFactory messageEndpointFactory, ActivationSpec activationSpec) {
        final TelnetActivationSpec telnetActivationSpec = (TelnetActivationSpec) activationSpec;

        final TelnetServer telnetServer = activated.remove(port);

        try {
            telnetServer.deactivate();
        } catch (IOException e) {
            e.printStackTrace();
        }

        final MessageEndpoint endpoint = (MessageEndpoint) telnetServer.getListener();

        endpoint.release();
    }

    public XAResource[] getXAResources(ActivationSpec[] activationSpecs) throws ResourceException {
        return new XAResource[0];
    }

}

Note that the TelnetListener object created by the MDB Container also implements MessageEndpoint. This is possible because the object is essentially a proxy just like any other EJB reference. For all intents and purposes the TelnetListener is a business interface. A business interface created by the Connector Provider.

Not shown here, but prior to invoking the MDB the Telnet Connector simply needs to call beforeDelivery and afterDeliver before invoking the MDB via the Container-created proxy. For example, here's how the Telnet Connector might implement invoking doJoke:

TelnetListener telnetListener = ..//
Method doJoke = TelnetListener.class.getMethod("doJoke");

(MessageEndpoint(telnetListener)).beforeDelivery(doJoke);
telnetListener.doJoke();
(MessageEndpoint(telnetListener)).afterDelivery();

Proper exception handling withstanding the flow is pretty simple.

Telnet ra.xml file

To package it all up, we create a ra.xml file for the Telnet Connector like the following:

<connector xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee"
           xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
           xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee
           http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee/connector_1_5.xsd"
           version="1.5">

  <description>Telnet ResourceAdapter</description>
  <display-name>Telnet ResourceAdapter</display-name>

  <vendor-name>SuperConnectors</vendor-name>

  <eis-type>Telnet Adapter</eis-type>

  <resourceadapter-version>1.0</resourceadapter-version>

  <resourceadapter id="TelnetResourceAdapter">

    <resourceadapter-class>com.superconnectors.telnet.adapter.TelnetResourceAdapter</resourceadapter-class>

    <config-property>
      <config-property-name>port</config-property-name>
      <config-property-type>java.lang.Integer</config-property-type>
      <config-property-value>2020</config-property-value>
    </config-property>

    <inbound-resourceadapter>
      <messageadapter>
        <messagelistener>
          <messagelistener-type>com.superconnectors.telnet.api.TelnetListener</messagelistener-type>
          <activationspec>
            <activationspec-class>com.superconnectors.telnet.adapter.TelnetActivationSpec</activationspec-class>
          </activationspec>
        </messagelistener>
      </messageadapter>
    </inbound-resourceadapter>

  </resourceadapter>
</connector>

The Telnet Connector goes into a .rar file which is similar to a .war or .ear file in that it is an jar of jars. Let's call our file telnet.rar and package it up to contain the following files:

 META-INF/ra.xml
 superconnectors-telnet.jar

The superconnectors-telnet.jar will contain all the above code.

Sample MDB

Here we use the pretend package org.developer.application to make it clear this work is done by the Application Developer, or simply put, some app that wants to use our Telnet Connector.

package org.developer.application;

import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.TelnetListener;

import javax.ejb.ActivationConfigProperty;
import javax.ejb.MessageDriven;
import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;
import java.util.Date;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.Properties;
import java.util.regex.Pattern;

@MessageDriven(activationConfig = {
        @ActivationConfigProperty(propertyName = "prompt", propertyValue = "pronto>")
})
public class MyMdb implements TelnetListener {

    private final SimpleDateFormat dateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat();
    private final Properties properties = new Properties();

    @Override
    public String doDate() {
        return dateFormat.format(new Date(System.currentTimeMillis()));
    }

    @Override
    public String doJoke() {
        return "Where do hamburgers go to dance?  To a meatball.";
    }

    @Override
    public int doAdd(int a, int b) {
        return a + b;
    }

    @Override
    public String doGet(String key) {
        return properties.getProperty(key);
    }

    @Override
    public String doSet(String key, String value) {
        final Object old = properties.setProperty(key, value);
        final StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        sb.append("set ").append(key).append(" to ").append(value);
        sb.append("\n");
        if (old != null) {
            sb.append("old value: ").append(old);
            sb.append("\n");
        }
        return sb.toString();
    }

    @Override
    public String doList(Pattern pattern) {
        if (pattern == null) pattern = Pattern.compile(".*");
        final StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        for (Map.Entry<Object, Object> entry : properties.entrySet()) {
            final String key = entry.getKey().toString();
            if (pattern.matcher(key).matches()) {
                sb.append(key).append(" = ").append(entry.getValue()).append("\n");
            }
        }
        return sb.toString();
    }
}

Running our MDB

With both telnet.rar and our application deployed in a complient Java EE server, we should be able to telnet to port 2020 and start using our MDB.

Here's what the output might look like:

$ telnet localhost 2020
Trying ::1...
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.

type 'help' for a list of commands
pronto> help
add
date
exit
get
help
joke
list
set

pronto> help add
add <int> <int>

pronto> add 5 6
11

pronto> list


pronto> set greeting ciao
set greeting to ciao

pronto> set farwell ciao
set farwell to ciao

pronto> list
farwell = ciao
greeting = ciao

pronto> date
7/26/12 10:39 PM

pronto> joke
Where do hamburgers go to dance?  To a meatball.

pronto> exit
Connection closed by foreign host.

Message-Driven Beans Tomorrow

With a couple small tweaks in the specs, we can add great amounts of expressiveness to the existing MDB/Connector relationship.

  • Allow the ResourceAdapter to obtain the bean class through the ActivationSpec
  • Allow the ResourceAdapter to obtain a MessageEndpoint that is similar to a no-interface view of the bean

This can be done with text and no new API classes or signatures are required.

The contract would be simple.

  • The Connector Provider can request the MDB implementation class (ejb class) via the ActivationSpec
  • If the ActivationSpec has an 'ejbClass' property the MDB Container would be required to:
    • set a reference to the ejb class of the MDB when creating the ActivationSpec instance
    • return a no-interface view of the MDB from the MessageEndpointFactory.createEndpoint method

Of course the "no-interface" view would still implement MessageEndpoint and the message listener interface.

Revamping Telnet Connector

With this simple change we can dramatically improve our Telnet Connector.

First, we no longer need to force a specific set of methods.

package com.superconnectors.telnet.api;

import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public interface TelnetListener {
}

Instead we'll create an annotation Application Developers can use in conjunction with our TelnetListener interface.

package com.superconnectors.telnet.api;

import java.lang.annotation.Target;
import java.lang.annotation.Retention;
import java.lang.annotation.ElementType;
import java.lang.annotation.RetentionPolicy;

@Target({ElementType.METHOD})
@Retention(RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
public @interface Command {
    String name() default "";
    String description() default "";
}

Second, we'll update our TelnetActivationSpec so that it requests the ejbClass which will allow us to check for our @Command annotation in any MDBs that may use our Telnet Connector. Note we can simplify our validate method as well.

package com.superconnectors.telnet.adapter;

import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.Command;
import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.Prompt;
import com.superconnectors.telnet.impl.Cmd;

import javax.resource.ResourceException;
import javax.resource.spi.ActivationSpec;
import javax.resource.spi.InvalidPropertyException;
import javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapter;
import java.lang.reflect.Method;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;

public class TelnetActivationSpec implements ActivationSpec {

    private ResourceAdapter resourceAdapter;
    private final List<Cmd> cmds = new ArrayList<Cmd>();
    private String prompt;
    private Class beanClass;

    public String getPrompt() {
        return prompt;
    }

    public void setPrompt(String prompt) {
        this.prompt = prompt;
    }

    public Class getBeanClass() {
        return beanClass;
    }

    public void setBeanClass(Class beanClass) {
        this.beanClass = beanClass;
    }

    public List<Cmd> getCmds() {
        return cmds;
    }

    @Override
    public void validate() throws InvalidPropertyException {
        // Set Prompt
        final Prompt prompt = (Prompt) beanClass.getAnnotation(Prompt.class);
        if (prompt != null) {
            this.prompt = prompt.value();
        }

        // Get Commands
        final Method[] methods = beanClass.getMethods();
        for (Method method : methods) {
            if (method.isAnnotationPresent(Command.class)) {
                final Command command = method.getAnnotation(Command.class);
                cmds.add(new Cmd(command.value(), method));
            }
        }

        // Validate
        if (this.prompt == null || this.prompt.length() == 0) {
            this.prompt = "prompt>";
        }
        if (this.cmds.size() == 0) {
            throw new InvalidPropertyException("No @Command methods");
        }
    }

    @Override
    public ResourceAdapter getResourceAdapter() {
        return resourceAdapter;
    }

    @Override
    public void setResourceAdapter(ResourceAdapter ra) throws ResourceException {
        this.resourceAdapter = ra;
    }
}

At this point, we're done making changes to our Telnet Connector. If you inspected the code you'll remember the TelnetResourceAdapter already used reflection to invoke the TelnetListener. Now that the TelnetListener will be castable to the ejbClass as well, we have full access to invoke all the @Command methods we find.

We might, however, add some comments in the TelnetResourceAdapter code to make it extra clear:

public void endpointActivation(MessageEndpointFactory messageEndpointFactory, ActivationSpec activationSpec) throws ResourceException {
    final TelnetActivationSpec telnetActivationSpec = (TelnetActivationSpec) activationSpec;

    final MessageEndpoint messageEndpoint = messageEndpointFactory.createEndpoint(null);

    // This messageEndpoint instance is also castable to the ejbClass of the MDB
    final TelnetListener telnetListener = (TelnetListener) messageEndpoint;

    final TelnetServer telnetServer = new TelnetServer(telnetActivationSpec, telnetListener, port);

    try {
        telnetServer.activate();
        activated.put(port, telnetServer);
    } catch (IOException e) {
        throw new ResourceException(e);
    }
}

Revamping the sample MDB

Free to decide what commands to expose, users of the improved Telnet Connector might define an MDB like the following.

package org.developer.application;

import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.Command;
import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.Option;
import com.superconnectors.telnet.api.TelnetListener;

import javax.ejb.ActivationConfigProperty;
import javax.ejb.MessageDriven;
import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;
import java.util.Date;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.Properties;
import java.util.regex.Pattern;

@MessageDriven(activationConfig = {
        @ActivationConfigProperty(propertyName = "prompt", propertyValue = "pronto>")
})
public class MyMdb implements TelnetListener {

    private final Properties properties = new Properties();

    @Command("get")
    public String doGet(@Option("key") String key) {
        return properties.getProperty(key);
    }

    @Command("set")
    public String doSet(@Option("key") String key, @Option("value") String value) {

        final Object old = properties.setProperty(key, value);
        final StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        sb.append("set ").append(key).append(" to ").append(value);
        sb.append("\n");
        if (old != null) {
            sb.append("old value: ").append(old);
            sb.append("\n");
        }
        return sb.toString();
    }

    @Command("list")
    public String doList(@Option("pattern") Pattern pattern) {

        if (pattern == null) pattern = Pattern.compile(".*");
        final StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        for (Map.Entry<Object, Object> entry : properties.entrySet()) {
            final String key = entry.getKey().toString();
            if (pattern.matcher(key).matches()) {
                sb.append(key).append(" = ").append(entry.getValue()).append("\n");
            }
        }
        return sb.toString();
    }
}

Other Connector Resoruces

See also https://github.com/dblevins/jca-quickstart