An alternative API for filtering data with Spring MVC & Spring Data JPA
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README.md

specification-arg-resolver

An alternative API for filtering data with Spring MVC & Spring Data JPA.

A thorough introduction and the original rationale behind this component can be found my blog: http://blog.kaczmarzyk.net/2014/03/23/alternative-api-for-filtering-data-with-spring-mvc-and-spring-data/. In this file you can find a summary of all the current features and some API examples.

You can also take a look on a working Spring Boot app that uses this library: https://github.com/tkaczmarzyk/specification-arg-resolver-example.

Basic usage

The following HTTP request:

GET http://myhost/api/customers?firstName=Homer

can be handled with the following controller method:

@RequestMapping(value = "/customers", params = "firstName")
public Iterable<Customer> findByFirstName(  
      @Spec(path = "firstName", spec = Like.class) Specification<Customer> spec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(spec);
}

which will result in the following JPA query:

select c from Customer c where c.firstName like '%Homer%'

Alternatively you can annotate an interface:

  @Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class)
  public interface NameSpec extends Specification<Customer> {
  }

and then use it as a controller parameter without any further annotations.

Enabling spec annotations in your Spring app

All you need to do is to wire SpecificationArgumentResolver into your application. Then you can use @Spec and other annotations in your controllers. SpecificationArgumentResolver implements Spring's HandlerMethodArgumentResolver and can be plugged in as follows:

@Configuration
@EnableJpaRepositories
public class MyConfig extends WebMvcConfigurerAdapter {

    @Override
    public void addArgumentResolvers(List<HandlerMethodArgumentResolver> argumentResolvers) {
        argumentResolvers.add(new SpecificationArgumentResolver());
    }

    ...
}

Simple specifications

Use @Spec annotation to automatically resolve a Specification argument of your controller method. @Spec has path property that should be used to specify property path of the attribute of an entity, e.g. address.city. By default it's also the name of the expected HTTP parameter, e.g. GET http://myhost?address.city=Springfield.

Use spec attribute of the annotation to specify one of the following strategies for filtering.

Like

Filters using JPAQL like expression. It adds a wildcard % at the beginning and the end of the actual value, e.g. (..) where firstName like %Homer%.

Usage: @Spec(path="firstName", spec=Like.class).

LikeIgnoreCase

Works as Like, but the query is also case-insensitive.

Usage: @Spec(path="firstName", spec=LikeIgnoreCase.class).

Equal

Compares an attribute of an entity with the value of a HTTP parameter (exact match). E.g. (..) where gender = FEMALE.

Supports multiple data types: numbers, booleans, strings, dates, enums.

Usage: @Spec(path="gender", spec=Equal.class).

The default date format used for temporal fields is yyyy-MM-dd. It can be overriden with a configuration parameter (see LessThan below).

EqualIgnoreCase

Works as Equal, but the query is also case-insensitive.

In

Compares an attribute of an entity with multiple values of a HTTP parameter. E.g. (..) where gender in (MALE, FEMALE).

HTTP request example:

GET http://myhost/customers?gender=MALE&gender=FEMALE

Supports multiple data types: numbers, booleans, strings, dates, enums.

Usage: @Spec(path="gender", spec=In.class).

The default date format used for temporal fields is yyyy-MM-dd. It can be overriden with a configuration parameter (see LessThan below).

Null

Filters using is null or is not null, depending on the value of the parameter passed in. A value of true will filter for is null, and a value of false will filter for is not null.

The data type of the field specified in path can be anything, but the HTTP parameter must be a Boolean. You should use params attribute to make it clear that the parameter is filtering for null values.

Usage: @Spec(path="activationDate", params="activationDateNull" spec=Null.class).

If you want the query to be static, i.e. not depend on any HTTP param, use constVal attribute of Spec annotation:

For example @Spec(path="nickname", spec=Null.class, constVal="true") will always add nickname is null to the query.

NotNull

An inversion of Null described above, for better readability in some scenarios.

For example, consider a deletedDate field which is null when the entity is not deleted, and vice-versa. Then, you can introduce this mapping:

@Spec(path="deletedDate", params="isDeleted", spec=NotNull.class)

to handle HTTP requests such as:

GET http://myhost/customers?isDeleted=true
GET http://myhost/customers?isDeleted=false

to return deleted (deletedDate not null) and not deleted (deltedDate null) respectively.

GreaterThan, GreaterThanOrEqual, LessThan, LessThanOrEqual

Filters using a comparison operator (>, >=, < or <=). Supports multiple field types: strings, numbers, booleans, enums, dates. Field types must be Comparable (e.g, implement the Comparable interface); this is a JPA constraint.

Usage: @Spec(path="creationDate", spec=LessThan.class).

For temporal values, the default date format is yyyy-MM-dd. You can override it by providing a config value to the annotation: @Spec(path="creationDate", spec=LessThan.class, config="dd-MM-yyyy").

NOTE: comparisons are dependent on the underlying database.

  • Comparisons of floats and doubles (especially floats) may be incorrect due to precision loss.
  • Comparisons of booleans may be dependent on the underlying database representation.
  • Comparisons of enums will be of their ordinal or string representations, depending on what you specified to JPA, e.g., @Enumerated(EnumType.STRING), @Enumerated(EnumType.ORDINAL) or the default (@Enumerated(EnumType.ORDINAL))

DateBetween

Filters by checking if a temporal field of an entity is in the provided date range. E.g. (..) where creation date between :after and :before.

It requires 2 HTTP parameters (for lower and upper bound). You should use params attribute of the @Spec annotation, i.e.: @Spec(path="registrationDate", params={"registeredAfter","registeredBefore"}, spec=DateBetween.class). The corresponding HTTP query would be: GET http://myhost/customers?registeredAfter=2014-01-01&registeredBefore=2014-12-31.

You can configure the date pattern as with LessThan described above.

Combining specs

You can combine the specs described above with or & and. Remember that by default all of the HTTP params are optional. If you want to make all parts of your query required, you must state that explicitly in @RequestMapping annotation (see above).

@And

Usage:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByName(
        @And({
            @Spec(path="registrationDate", params="registeredBefore", spec=DateBefore.class),
            @Spec(path="lastName", spec=Like.class)}) Specification<Customer> customerSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customerSpec);
}

would handle requests like GET http://myhost/customers?registeredBefore=2015-01-18&lastName=Simpson

and execute queries like: select c from Customer c where c.registrationDate < :registeredBefore and c.lastName like '%Simpson%'.

@Or

Usage:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByName(
        @Or(
            @Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class),
            @Spec(path="lastName", params="name", spec=Like.class)) Specification<Customer> customerNameSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customerNameSpec);
}

would handle requests like GET http://myhost/customers?name=Mo

and execute queries like: select c from Customer c where c.firstName like '%Mo%' or c.lastName like '%Mo'.

Nested conjunctions and disjunctions

You can put multiple @And inside @Disjunction or multiple @Or inside @Conjunction. @Disjunction joins nested @And queries with 'or' operator. @Conjunction joins nested @Or queries with 'and' operator. For example:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByFullNameAndAddress(
        @Conjunction({
            @Or(@Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class),
                @Spec(path="lastName", params="name", spec=Like.class)),
            @Or(@Spec(path="address.street", params="address", spec=Like.class),
                @Spec(path="address.city", params="address", spec=Like.class))
        }) Specification<Customer> customerSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customerSpec);
}

would handle requests like GET http://myhost/customers?name=Sim&address=Ever

and execute queries like select c from Customer c where (c.firstName like '%Sim%' or c.lastName like '%Sim%') and (c.address.street like '%Ever%' or c.address.city like '%Ever%').

You must use @Conjunction and @Disjunction as top level annotations (instead of regular @And and @Or) because of limitations of Java annotation syntax (it does not allow cycle in annotation references).

You can join nested @And and @Or queries with simple @Spec, for example:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByFullNameAndAddressAndNickName(
        @Conjunction(value = {
            @Or(@Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class),
                @Spec(path="lastName", params="name", spec=Like.class)),
            @Or(@Spec(path="address.street", params="address", spec=Like.class),
                @Spec(path="address.city", params="address", spec=Like.class))
        }, and = @Spec(path="nickName", spec=Like.class) Specification<Customer> customerSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customerSpec);
}
@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByLastNameOrGoldenByFirstName(
        @Disjunction(value = {
            @And({@Spec(path="golden", spec=Equal.class, constVal="true"),
                @Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class)})
        }, or = @Spec(path="lastName", params="name", spec=Like.class) Specification<Customer> customerSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customerSpec);
}

Join

You can use @Join annotation to perform joins and then filter by attributes of joined entities. For example, let's assume the following entities:

@Entity
public class Customer {

    // other fields omitted for brevity

    @OneToMany(mappedBy = customer)
    private Collection<Order> orders;

}

@Entity
public class Order {

    // other fields omitted for brevity

    @ManyToOne
    private Customer customer;

    private String itemName;
}

If you want to find all customers who ordered pizza, you can do the following:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByOrderedItem(
        @Join(path= "orders", alias = "o") // alias specified for joined path
        @Spec(path="o.itemName", params="orderedItem", spec=Like.class) // alias used in regular spec definition
        Specification<Customer> customersByOrderedItemSpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customersByOrderedItemSpec);
}

The default join type is INNER. You can use type attribute of the annotation to specify different value.

Using @Join annotation makes the query distinct by default. While it is the best approach for most of the cases, you can override it by using distinct attribute of the annotation.

You can specify multiple different joins with container annotaion @Joins, for example:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByOrderedOrFavouriteItem(
        @Joins({
            @Join(path = "orders", alias = "o")
            @Join(path = "favourites", alias = "f")
        })
        @Or({
            @Spec(path="o.itemName", params="item", spec=Like.class),
            @Spec(path="f.itemName", params="item", spec=Like.class)}) Specification<Customer> customersByItem) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customersByItem);
}

You can use join annotations with custom annotated specification interfaces.

Join fetch

You can use @JoinFetch annotation to specify paths to perform fetch join on. For example:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByCityFetchOrdersAndAddresses(
        @JoinFetch(paths = { "orders", "addresses" })
        @Spec(path="address.city", params="town", spec=Like.class) Specification<Customer> customersByCitySpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customersByCitySpec);
}

The default join type is LEFT. You can use joinType attribute of the annotation to specify different value. You can specify multiple different joins with container annotation @Joins, for example:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByCityFetchOrdersAndAddresses(
        @Joins(fetch = {
            @JoinFetch(paths = "orders")
            @JoinFetch(paths = "addresses", joinType = JoinType.INNER)
        })
        @Spec(path="address.city", params="town", spec=Like.class) Specification<Customer> customersByCitySpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customersByCitySpec);
}

You can use join annotations with custom annotated specification interfaces.

Advanced HTTP parameter handling

Handling non-present HTTP parameters

If the HTTP parameter is not present, the resolved Specification will be null. It means no filtering at all when passed to a repository. If you want to make the parameter non-optional, you should use standard Spring MVC annotations, e.g. @RequestMapping(params={"firstName"}).

Mapping HTTP parameter name to property path of an entity

By default, the expected HTTP parameter is the same as the property path. If you want them to differ, you can use params attribute of @Spec. For example this method:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
public Object findByCity(
        @Spec(path="address.city", params="town", spec=Like.class) Specification<Customer> customersByCitySpec) {

    return customerRepo.findAll(customersByCitySpec);
}

will handle GET http://myhost/customers?town=Springfield as select c from Customer c where city.address like '%Springfield%'.

Static parts of queries

If you don't want to bind your Specification to any HTTP parameter, you can use constVal attribute of @Spec. For example:

@Spec(path="deleted", spec=Equal.class, constVal="false")

will alwas produce the following: where deleted = false. It is often convenient to combine such a static part with dynamic ones using @And or @Or described below.

Annotated specification interfaces

You can annotate a custom interface that extends Specification, eg.:

@Or({
    @Spec(path="firstName", params="name", spec=Like.class),
    @Spec(path="lastName", params="name", spec=Like.class)
})
public interface FullNameSpec extends Specification<Customer> {
}

It can be then used as a controller parameter without further annotations, i.e.:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
@ResponseBody
public Object findByFullName(FullNameSpec spec) {
    return repository.findAll(spec);
}

When such parameter is additionally annotated, the both specifications (from the interface and the parameter annotations) are joined with 'and' operator. For example you can define a base interface like this:

@Spec(path="deleted", spec=Equal.class, constVal="false")
public interface NotDeletedEntitySpec<T> extends Specification<T> {}

and then use it as a foundation for you controller as follows:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
@ResponseBody
public Object findNotDeletedCustomerByLastName(
            @Spec(path="lastName", spec=Equal.class) NotDeletedEntitySpec<Customer> spec) {

    return repository.findAll(spec);
}

to execute queries such as select c from Customer c where c.deleted = false and c.lastName like %Homer%.

Interface inheritance tree

Specifications are resolved from all parent interfaces and combined with and. As an example, let's consider the following interfaces:

@Spec(path = "deleted", constVal = "false", spec = Equal.class)
public interface NotDeletedSpec extends Specification<Customer> {}

@Spec(path = "firstName", spec = Equal.class)
public interface FirstNameSpec extends NotDeletedSpec {}

FirstNameSpec extends NotDeletedSpec, so their specifications will be combined with and, i.e. a controller method like this:

@RequestMapping("/customers")
@ResponseBody
public Object findNotDeletedCustomersByFirstName(FirstNameSpec spec) {
    
  return repository.findAll(spec);
}

will accept HTTP requests such as GET /customers?firstName=Homer and execute JPA queries such as where firstName = 'Homer' and deleted = false.

Handling different field types

Consider a field age of type Integer and the following specification definition:

@Spec(path="age", spec=Equal.class)

If non-numeric values is passed with the HTTP request (e.g. ?age=test), then the result list will be empty. If you want an exception to be thrown instead, use onTypeMismatch property of the Spec annotation, i.e:

@Spec(path="age", spec=Equal.class, onTypeMismatch=OnTypeMismatch.EXCEPTION)

This behaviour has changed in version 0.9.0 (exception was the default value in previous ones). The default OnTypeMismatch.EMPTY_RESULT is useful when using @And or @Or and their inner specs refer to fields of different types, e.g.:

@And({
    @Spec(path="firstName", params="query", spec=Equal.class),
    @Spec(path="customerId", params="query", spec=Equal.class)})

(assuming that firstName is String and customerId is a numeric type)

Download binary releases

Specification argument resolver is available in the Maven Central:

<dependency>
    <groupId>net.kaczmarzyk</groupId>
    <artifactId>specification-arg-resolver</artifactId>
    <version>1.1.1</version>
</dependency>

If a new version is not yet available in the central repository, you can grab it from my private repo:

<repository>
    <id>kaczmarzyk.net</id>
    <url>http://repo.kaczmarzyk.net</url>
</repository>