Template for a new Scala project using the Neo4j graph database and Jersey JSON REST API, including build config and example tests
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Neo4j/Scala/Jersey project template

  • You want to develop an application using the Neo4j open source graph database?
  • You want to write your code in beautiful Scala?
  • You want to expose your database through a nice clean JSON REST API, implemented with Jersey/JSR311?
  • You want to get up and running quickly?

Then you've come to the right place. This repository contains a rough outline for a new project, including a Maven descriptor pom.xml detailing all the dependencies, an Eclipse project with all the right build settings, and examples of how to write tests. You'll be up and running in no time.

Building this template

Start by building and running this project; it contains some examples which you can start playing with, and then expand to match your own needs once you are comfortable with them.

You need a Java 5 (or newer) environment and Maven 2.0.9 (or newer) installed:

$ mvn --version
Maven version: 2.0.10
Java version: 1.6.0_03-p3
OS name: "darwin" version: "9.7.0" arch: "i386" Family: "unix"

(If you're not familiar with Maven -- the first time you build a project, it downloads what seems like the entire universe to a local repository in your home directory (all the dependencies of this project and the plugins it needs to build and run it). It gets much better after that first time.)

First install the Neo4j resources library -- if you get errors, please see the Troubleshooting section below.

$ git clone git://github.com/ept/neo4j-resources.git
$ cd neo4j-resources
$ mvn clean install

Then download this repository, or clone it with git, or merge it into your own git repository, by one of the following:

  • Download ZIP file or tarball
  • git clone git://github.com/ept/neo4j-scala-template.git (new project)
  • git pull git://github.com/ept/neo4j-scala-template.git (merge into existing project)

Once that is done, open a shell, cd to the directory you just checked out, and run mvn package to do a full build. Congratulations, you've got a working Neo4j server complete with JSON REST interface!

Out of the box, this template is set up to support the following goals:

  • mvn package -- Compile, test and bundle into a war file for deployment to a standard Java web container (e.g. Tomcat).
  • mvn test -- Just compile and test.
  • mvn jetty:run -- Compile and run the app in an embedded Jetty server on http://localhost:8080/.
  • mvn clean -- Remove build files

To use the project in Eclipse, you must have the Eclipse Scala plugin installed. You should also do a full Maven build before using Eclipse, to ensure you have all the dependencies. Then you should be able to do "File -> Import -> General -> Existing Projects into Workspace" and be ready to go. Note that at the time of writing, the Eclipse Scala plugin appears to have a bug which causes it not to write any class files to the target directory.


If you're using a Java 6 JDK, you may get an error like "JAXB 2.0 API is being loaded from the bootstrap classloader, but this RI needs 2.1 API" when executing mvn jetty:run. You can fix this by setting the following environment variable:

export MAVEN_OPTS="-Djava.endorsed.dirs=$HOME/.m2/repository/javax/xml/bind/jaxb-api/2.1"

Depending on your operating system you may need to to adjust the path above to point to your Maven repository.

Using this template

This project includes several example resources, each of which illustrates a different way of wrapping Neo4j in a domain-specific REST API. Depending on the structure of your data, any existing code you need to use and your personal preferences, you may choose whichever suits you. Please read the comments in the code to find out more -- the code is quite concise so you won't be overwhelmed.

These resources are set up to work out of the box (with the Neo4j database stored in /tmp/neo4j_dev). Just run mvn jetty:run and use cURL to access the REST API.

For example, one is called neo_resource, and it implements a full CRUD (create/read/update/delete) pattern for a single node. Once your app is running (mvn jetty:run), you can play with it as follows:

# Create a new node with a KNOWS relationship to the reference node
$ curl -i -HAccept:application/json -HContent-type:application/json \
    -d'{"name":"my first test node","_in":{"KNOWS":0}}' -XPOST \

# Query the reference node -- it should have an outgoing relationship to
# the node we just created
$ curl -i -HAccept:application/json http://localhost:8080/neo_resource/0

(This example is based on the assumption that a node with ID 0 exists, which is Neo's reference node in the current implementation -- you shouldn't rely on the reference node having ID 0 though.)

The stats resource is an example of a read-only query involving a graph traversal. It starts with a particular node and counts how many other nodes are accessible from it, grouped by path length. Taking the reference node as starting point:

$ curl -i -HAccept:application/json http://localhost:8080/stats/0

Try running the POST /neo_resource above again and watch how the values returned by stats change!

Moving forward, you will probably want to search the files for occurrences of example and replace them with something more appropriate.

src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/neo4j.properties contains the settings for Neo4j (location of the database files, whether to enable the remote shell, etc.). You can provide different settings for different environments; development, test and production are provided as example. By default, mvn test runs in the test environment, and the web application runs in the development environment. On your production server, set the system property neo4j.env=production in your web container to activate the production environment.

Useful links

The main references you'll need for development:


Copyright (c) 2009 Ept Computing. Developed by Martin Kleppmann.

This application template is made publicly available under the terms of the MIT license. See LICENSE.txt for details.