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12.3. Getting Dirty

There are three basic steps in writing any SOAP-based system, and I'll look at each in turn:

  • Decide on SOAP-RPC or SOAP messaging

  • Write or obtain access to a SOAP service

  • Write or obtain access to a SOAP client

The first step is to decide if you want to use SOAP for RPC-style calls, in which a remote procedure is invoked on a server, or for messaging, in which a client simply sends pieces of information to a server. I'll detail these processes in the next section. Once you've made that design decision, you need to access, or code up, a service. Of course, since we're all Java pros here, this chapter shows you how to code up your own. Finally, you need to write the client for this service, and watch things take off.

12.3.1. RPC or Messaging?

Your first task is actually not code-related but design-related. You need to determine if you want an RPC service or a messaging one. The first, RPC, is something you should be pretty familiar with after the last chapter. A client invokes a remote procedure on a server somewhere, and then gets some sort of response. In this scenario, SOAP is simply acting as a more extensible XML-RPC system, allowing better error handling and passing of complex types across the network. This is a concept you should already understand, and because it turns out that RPC systems are simple to write in SOAP, I'll start off there. This chapter describes how to write an RPC service, and then an RPC client, and put the system in action.

The second style of SOAP processing is message-based. Instead of invoking remote procedures, it provides for transfer of information. As you can imagine, this is pretty powerful, and doesn't depend on a client knowing about a particular method on some server. It also models distributed systems more closely, allowing packets of data (packet in the figurative sense, not in the network sense) to be passed around, keeping various systems aware of what other systems are doing. It is also more complicated than the simpler RPC-style programming, so I'll cover it in the next chapter with other business-to-business details after you're well grounded in SOAP-RPC programming.

Like most design issues, the actual process of making this decision is left up to you. Look at your application and determine exactly what you want SOAP to do for you. If you have a server and a set of clients that just need to perform tasks remotely, then RPC is probably well suited for your needs. However, in larger systems that are exchanging data rather than performing specific business functions on request, SOAP's messaging capabilities may be a better match.

12.3.2. An RPC Service

With the formalities out of the way, it's time to get going, fast and furious. As you'll recall from the last chapter, in RPC you need a class that is going to have its methods invoked remotely.

12.3.2.1. Code artifacts

I'll start by showing you some code artifacts to have available on the server. These artifacts are classes with methods that are exposed to RPC clients.[21] Rather than use the simple class from last chapter, I offer a slightly more complex example to show you what SOAP can do. In that vein, Example 12-4 is a class that stores a CD inventory, such as an application for an online music store might use. I'm introducing a basic version here, and will add to it later in the chapter.

[21]You can use scripts through the Bean Scripting Framework, but for the sake of space I won't cover that here. Check out the upcoming O'Reilly SOAP book, as well as the online documentation at http://xml.apache.org/soap, for more details on script support in SOAP.

Example 12-4. The CDCatalog class

package javaxml2;

import java.util.Hashtable;

public class CDCatalog {

    /** The CDs, by title */
    private Hashtable catalog;

    public CDCatalog( ) {
        catalog = new Hashtable( );

        // Seed the catalog
        catalog.put("Nickel Creek", "Nickel Creek");
        catalog.put("Let it Fall", "Sean Watkins");
        catalog.put("Aerial Boundaries", "Michael Hedges");
        catalog.put("Taproot", "Michael Hedges");
    }

    public void addCD(String title, String artist) {
        if ((title == null) || (artist == null)) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("Title and artist cannot be null.");
        }
        catalog.put(title, artist);        
    }

    public String getArtist(String title) {
        if (title == null) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("Title cannot be null.");
        }

        // Return the requested CD
        return (String)catalog.get(title);
    }

    public Hashtable list( ) {
        return catalog;
    }
}

This allows for adding a new CD, searching for an artist by a CD title, and getting all current CDs. Take note that the list( ) method returns a Hashtable, and there is nothing special I have to do to make that work; Apache SOAP provides automatic mapping of the Hashtable Java type, much as XML-RPC did.

Compile this class, and make sure you've got everything typed in (or downloaded, if you choose) correctly. Notice that the CDCatalog class has no knowledge about SOAP. This means you can take your existing Java classes and expose them through SOAP-RPC, which reduces the work required on your end to move to a SOAP-based architecture if needed.

12.3.2.2. Deployment descriptors

With the Java coding done, you now need to define a deployment descriptor. This specifies several key things to a SOAP server:

  • The URN of the SOAP service for clients to access

  • The method or methods available to clients

  • The serialization and deserialization handlers for any custom classes

The first is similar to a URL, and required for a client to connect to any SOAP server. The second is exactly what you expect: a list of methods letting the client know what are allowable artifacts for a SOAP client. It also lets the SOAP server, which I'll cover in a moment, know what requests to accept. The third is a means of telling the SOAP server how to handle any custom parameters; I'll come back to this in the next section when I add some more complex behavior to the catalog.

I'll show you the deployment descriptor and detail each item within it. Example 12-5 is the deployment descriptor for the CDCatalog service we're creating.

Example 12-5. The CDCatalog deployment descriptor

<isd:service xmlns:isd="http://xml.apache.org/xml-soap/deployment"
             id="urn:cd-catalog"
>
  <isd:provider type="java"
                scope="Application"
                methods="addCD getArtist list"
  >
    <isd:java class="javaxml2.CDCatalog" static="false" />
  </isd:provider>

  <isd:faultListener>org.apache.soap.server.DOMFaultListener</isd:faultListener>
</isd:service>

First, I referenced the Apache SOAP deployment namespace, and then supplied a URN for my service through the id attribute. This should be something unique across services, and descriptive of the service. I showed about as much originality in naming the service as Dave Matthews did with his band, but it gets the job done. Then, I specified through the java element the class to expose, including its package name (through the class attribute), and indicated that the methods being exposed were not static ones (through the static attribute).

Next, I specified a fault listener implementation to use. Apache's SOAP implementation provides two; I used the first, DOMFaultListener. This listener returns any exception and fault information through an additional DOM element in the response to the client. I'll get back to this when I look at writing clients, so don't worry too much about it right now. The other fault listener implementation is org.apache.soap.server.ExceptionFaultListener. This listener exposes any faults through an additional parameter returned to the client. Since quite a few SOAP-based applications are already going to be working in Java and XML APIs like DOM, it's common to use the DOMFaultListener in most cases.

12.3.2.3. Deploying the service

At this point, you've got a working deployment descriptor and a set of code artifacts to expose, and you can deploy your service. Apache SOAP comes with a utility to do this task, provided you have done the setup work. First, you need a deployment descriptor for your service, which I just talked about. Second, you need to make the classes for your service available to the SOAP server. The best way to do this is to jar up the service class from the last section:

jar cvf javaxml2.jar javaxml2/CDCatalog.class

Take this jar file and drop it into your lib/ directory (or wherever libraries are auto-loaded for your servlet engine), and restart your servlet engine.

WARNING: When you do this, you have created a snapshot of your class file. Changing the code in the CDCatalog.java file and recompiling it will not cause the servlet engine to pick up the changes. You'll need to re-jar the archive and copy it over to your lib/ directory each time code changes are made to ensure your service is updated. You'll also want to restart your servlet engine to make sure the changes are picked up by the engine as well.

With your service class (or classes) accessible by your SOAP server, you can now deploy the service, using Apache SOAP's org.apache.soap.server.ServiceManager utility class:

C:\javaxml2\Ch12>java org.apache.soap.server.ServiceManagerClient 
    http://localhost:8080/soap/servlet/rpcrouter deploy xml\CDCatalogDD.xml

The first argument is the SOAP server and RPC router servlet, the second is the action to take, and the third is the relevant deployment descriptor. Once this has executed, verify your service was added:

(gandalf)/javaxml2/Ch12$ java org.apache.soap.server.ServiceManagerClient 
    http://localhost:8080/soap/servlet/rpcrouter list
Deployed Services:
        urn:cd-catalog
        urn:AddressFetcher
        urn:xml-soap-demo-calculator

At a minimum, this should show any and all services you have available on the server. Finally, you can easily undeploy the service, as long as you know its name:

C:\javaxml2\Ch12>java org.apache.soap.server.ServiceManagerClient 
    http://localhost:8080/soap/servlet/rpcrouter undeploy urn:cd-catalog

Every time you update your service code, you must undeploy and then redeploy to ensure the SOAP server is running the newest copy.

12.3.3. An RPC Client

Next up is the client. I'm going to keep things simple, and just write a couple of command-line programs that invoke SOAP-RPC. It would be impossible to try and guess your business case, so I just focus on the SOAP details and let you work out integration with your existing software. Once you have the business portion of your code working, there are some basic steps you'll take in every SOAP-RPC call:

  • Create the SOAP-RPC call

  • Set up any type mappings for custom parameters

  • Set the URI of the SOAP service to use

  • Specify the method to invoke

  • Specify the encoding to use

  • Add any parameters to the call

  • Connect to the SOAP service

  • Receive and interpret a response

That may seem like a lot, but most of the operations are one- or two-line method invocations. In other words, talking to a SOAP service is generally a piece of cake. Example 12-6 shows the code for the CDAdder class, which allows you to add a new CD to the catalog. Take a look at the code, and then I'll walk you through the juicy bits.

Example 12-6. The CDAdder class

package javaxml2;

import java.net.URL;
import java.util.Vector;
import org.apache.soap.Constants;
import org.apache.soap.Fault;
import org.apache.soap.SOAPException;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Call;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Parameter;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Response;

public class CDAdder {

    public void add(URL url, String title, String artist) 
        throws SOAPException {

        System.out.println("Adding CD titled '" + title + "' by '" +
            artist + "'");

        // Build the Call object
        Call call = new Call( );
        call.setTargetObjectURI("urn:cd-catalog");
        call.setMethodName("addCD");
        call.setEncodingStyleURI(Constants.NS_URI_SOAP_ENC);

        // Set up parameters
        Vector params = new Vector( );
        params.addElement(new Parameter("title", String.class, title, null));
        params.addElement(new Parameter("artist", String.class, artist, null));
        call.setParams(params);

        // Invoke the call
        Response response;
        response = call.invoke(url, "");

        if (!response.generatedFault( )) {
            System.out.println("Successful CD Addition.");
        } else {
            Fault fault = response.getFault( );
            System.out.println("Error encountered: " + fault.getFaultString( ));
        }
    }

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        if (args.length != 3) {
            System.out.println("Usage: java javaxml2.CDAdder [SOAP server URL] " +
                "\"[CD Title]\" \"[Artist Name]\"");
            return;
        }

        try {
            // URL for SOAP server to connect to
            URL url = new URL(args[0]);

            // Get values for new CD
            String title = args[1];
            String artist = args[2];

            // Add the CD
            CDAdder adder = new CDAdder( );
            adder.add(url, title, artist);
        } catch (Exception e) {
            e.printStackTrace( );
        }
    }
}

This program captures the URL of the SOAP server to connect to, as well as information needed to create and add a new CD to the catalog. Then, in the add( ) method, the code creates the SOAP Call object, on which all the interesting interaction occurs. The target URI of the SOAP service and the method to invoke are set on the call, and both match up to values from the service's deployment descriptor from Example 12-5. Next, the encoding is set, which should always be the constant Constants.NS_URI_SOAP_ENC unless you have very unique encoding needs.

The program creates a new Vector populated with SOAP Parameter objects. Each of these represents a parameter to the specified method, and since the addCD( ) method takes two String values, this is pretty simple. Supply the name of the parameter (for use in the XML and debugging), the class for the parameter, and the value. The fourth argument is an optional encoding, if a single parameter needs a special encoding. For no special treatment, the value null suffices. The resulting Vector is then added to the Call object.

Once your call is set up, use the invoke( ) method on that object. The return value from this method is an org.apache.soap.Response instance, which is queried for any problems that resulted. This is fairly self-explanatory, so I'll leave it to you to walk through the code. Once you've compiled your client and followed the instructions earlier in this chapter for setting up your classpath, run the example as follows:

C:\javaxml2\build>java javaxml2.CDAdder 
   http://localhost:8080/soap/servlet/rpcrouter 
   "Riding the Midnight Train" "Doc Watson"

Adding CD titled 'Riding the Midnight Train' by 'Doc Watson'
Successful CD Addition

Example 12-7 is another simple class, CDLister , which lists all current CDs in the catalog. I won't go into detail on it, as it's very similar to Example 12-6, and is mainly a reinforcement of what I've already talked about.

Example 12-7. The CDLister class

package javaxml2;

import java.net.URL;
import java.util.Enumeration;
import java.util.Hashtable;
import java.util.Vector;
import org.apache.soap.Constants;
import org.apache.soap.Fault;
import org.apache.soap.SOAPException;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Call;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Parameter;
import org.apache.soap.rpc.Response;

public class CDLister {

    public void list(URL url) throws SOAPException {
        System.out.println("Listing current CD catalog.");

        // Build the Call object
        Call call = new Call( );
        call.setTargetObjectURI("urn:cd-catalog");
        call.setMethodName("list");
        call.setEncodingStyleURI(Constants.NS_URI_SOAP_ENC);

        // No parameters needed

        // Invoke the call
        Response response;
        response = call.invoke(url, "");

        if (!response.generatedFault( )) {
            Parameter returnValue = response.getReturnValue( );
            Hashtable catalog = (Hashtable)returnValue.getValue( );
            Enumeration e = catalog.keys( );
            while (e.hasMoreElements( )) {
                String title = (String)e.nextElement( );
                String artist = (String)catalog.get(title);
                System.out.println("  '" + title + "' by " + artist);
            }
        } else {
            Fault fault = response.getFault( );
            System.out.println("Error encountered: " + fault.getFaultString( ));
        }
    }

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        if (args.length != 1) {
            System.out.println("Usage: java javaxml2.CDAdder [SOAP server URL]");
            return;
        }

        try {
            // URL for SOAP server to connect to
            URL url = new URL(args[0]);

            // List the current CDs
            CDLister lister = new CDLister( );
            lister.list(url);
        } catch (Exception e) {
            e.printStackTrace( );
        }
    }
}

The only difference in this method from the CDAdder class is that the Response object has a return value (the Hashtable from the list( ) method). This is returned as a Parameter object, which allows a client to check its encoding and then extract the actual method return value. Once that's done, the client can use the returned value like any other Java object, and in the example simply runs through the CD catalog and prints out each one. You can now run this additional client to see it in action:

C:\javaxml2\build>java javaxml2.CDLister 
    http://localhost:8080/soap/servlet/rpcrouter
Listing current CD catalog.
  'Riding the Midnight Train' by Doc Watson
  'Taproot' by Michael Hedges
  'Nickel Creek' by Nickel Creek
  'Let it Fall' by Sean Watkins
  'Aerial Boundaries' by Michael Hedges

That's really all there is to basic RPC functionality in SOAP. I'd like to push on a bit, though, and talk about a few more complex topics.



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