Creating Asynchronous Methods :: Learn how to create asynchronous service methods.
Shell Batchfile Java


tags projects

This guide walks you through the steps to create asynchronous queries to GitHub. The focus is on the asynchronous part, a feature often used when scaling services.

What you’ll build

You’ll build a lookup service that queries GitHub user information and retrieves data through GitHub’s API. One approach to scaling services is to run expensive jobs in the background and wait for the results using Java’s Future interface. Java’s Future is essentially a container housed to hold the potential results. It gives you methods to let you poll if the results have arrived yet, and when they have, the ability to access the results.

Create a representation of a GitHub User

Before you can create a GitHub lookup service, you need to define a representation for the data you’ll retrieve through GitHub’s API.

To model the user representation, you create a resource representation class. Provide a plain old Java object with fields, constructors, and accessors:



Spring uses the Jackson JSON library to convert GitHub’s JSON response into a User object. The @JsonIgnoreProperties annotation signals Spring to ignore any attributes not listed in the class. This makes it easy to make REST calls and produce domain objects.

In this guide, we are only grabbing the name and the blog URL for demonstration purposes.

Create a GitHub lookup service

Next you need to create a service that queries GitHub to find user information.



The GitHubLookupService class uses Spring’s RestTemplate to invoke a remote REST point (, and then convert the answer into a User object. Spring Boot automatically provides a RestTemplateBuilder that customizes the defaults with any auto-configuration bits (i.e. MessageConverter).

The class is marked with the @Service annotation, making it a candidate for Spring’s component scanning to detect it and add it to the application context.

The findUser method is flagged with Spring’s @Async annotation, indicating it will run on a separate thread. The method’s return type is Future<User> instead of User, a requirement for any asynchronous service. This code uses the concrete implementation of AsyncResult to wrap the results of the GitHub query.

Creating a local instance of the GitHubLookupService class does NOT allow the findUser method to run asynchronously. It must be created inside a @Configuration class or picked up by @ComponentScan.

The timing for GitHub’s API can vary. To demonstrate the benefits later in this guide, an extra delay of one second has been added to this service.

Make the application executable

To run a sample, you can create an executable jar. Spring’s @Async annotation works with web apps, but you don’t need all the extra steps of setting up a web container to see its benefits.



The @EnableAsync annotation switches on Spring’s ability to run @Async methods in a background thread pool. This class also extends from AsyncConfigurerSupport to tune the Executor to use. In our case, we want to limit the number of concurrent threads to 2 and limit the size of the queue to 500. There are many more things you can tune. By default, a SimpleAsyncTaskExecutor is used.

There is also a CommandLineRunner that injects the GitHubLookupService and calls that service 3 times to demonstrate the method is executed asynchronously.



Logging output is displayed, showing each query to GitHub. Each Future result is monitored until available, so when they are all done, the log will print out the results along with the total amount of elapsed time.

2016-09-01 10:25:21.295  INFO 17893 --- [ GithubLookup-2] hello.GitHubLookupService                : Looking up CloudFoundry
2016-09-01 10:25:21.295  INFO 17893 --- [ GithubLookup-1] hello.GitHubLookupService                : Looking up PivotalSoftware
2016-09-01 10:25:23.142  INFO 17893 --- [ GithubLookup-1] hello.GitHubLookupService                : Looking up Spring-Projects
2016-09-01 10:25:24.281  INFO 17893 --- [           main] hello.AppRunner                          : Elapsed time: 2994
2016-09-01 10:25:24.282  INFO 17893 --- [           main] hello.AppRunner                          : --> User [name=Pivotal Software, Inc., blog=]
2016-09-01 10:25:24.282  INFO 17893 --- [           main] hello.AppRunner                          : --> User [name=Cloud Foundry, blog=]
2016-09-01 10:25:24.282  INFO 17893 --- [           main] hello.AppRunner                          : --> User [name=Spring, blog=]

Note that the first two calls happen in separate threads (GithubLookup-2, GithubLookup-1) and the third one is parked until one of the two threads became available. To compare how long this takes without the asynchronous feature, try commenting out the @Async annotation and run the service again. The total elapsed time should increase noticeably because each query takes at least a second. You can also tune the Executor to increase the corePoolSize attribute for instance.

Essentially, the longer the task takes and the more tasks are invoked simultaneously, the more benefit you will see with making things asynchronous. The trade off is handling the Future interface. It adds a layer of indirection because you are no longer dealing directly with the results, but must instead poll for them. If multiple method calls were previously chained together in a synchronous fashion, converting to an asynchronous approach may require synchronizing results. But this extra work may be necessary if asynchronous method calls solves a critical scaling issue.


Congratulations! You’ve just developed an asynchronous service that lets you scale multiple calls at once.