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Chapter 3. Client API

Table of Contents

3.1. Introduction
3.2. Uniform Interface Constraint
3.3. Ease of use and reusing JAX-RS artifacts
3.4. Getting started with the Jersey client
3.5. Overview of the API
3.5.1. Configuring a Client and WebResource
3.5.2. Building a request
3.5.3. Receiving a response
3.5.4. Creating new WebResources from a WebResource
3.5.5. Java instances and types for representations
3.6. Adding support for new representations
3.7. Using filters
3.7.1. Supported filters
3.8. Testing services
3.9. Security with Http(s)URLConnection
3.9.1. With Http(s)URLConnection
3.9.2. With Apache HTTP client

3.1. Introduction

This section introduces the client API and some features such as filters and how to use them with security features in the JDK. The Jersey client API is a high-level Java based API for interoperating with RESTful Web services. It makes it very easy to interoperate with RESTful Web services and enables a developer to concisely and efficiently implement a reusable client-side solution that leverages existing and well established client-side HTTP implementations.

The Jersey client API can be utilized to interoperate with any RESTful Web service, implemented using one of many frameworks, and is not restricted to services implemented using JAX-RS. However, developers familiar with JAX-RS should find the Jersey client API complementary to their services, especially if the client API is utilized by those services themselves, or to test those services.

The goals of the Jersey client API are threefold:

  1. Encapsulate a key constraint of the REST architectural style, namely the Uniform Interface Constraint and associated data elements, as client-side Java artifacts;

  2. Make it as easy to interoperate with RESTful Web services as JAX-RS makes it easy to build RESTful Web services; and

  3. Leverage artifacts of the JAX-RS API for the client side. Note that JAX-RS is currently a server-side only API.

The Jersey Client API supports a pluggable architecture to enable the use of different underlying HTTP client implementations. Two such implementations are supported and leveraged: the Http(s)URLConnection classes supplied with the JDK; and the Apache HTTP client.

3.2. Uniform Interface Constraint

The uniform interface constraint bounds the architecture of RESTful Web services so that a client, such as a browser, can utilize the same interface to communicate with any service. This is a very powerful concept in software engineering that makes Web-based search engines and service mash-ups possible. It induces properties such as:

  1. simplicity, the architecture is easier to understand and maintain; and

  2. modifiability or loose coupling, clients and services can evolve over time perhaps in new and unexpected ways, while retaining backwards compatibility.

Further constraints are required:

  1. every resource is identified by a URI;

  2. a client interacts with the resource via HTTP requests and responses using a fixed set of HTTP methods;

  3. one or more representations can be retured and are identified by media types; and

  4. the contents of which can link to further resources.

The above process repeated over and again should be familiar to anyone who has used a browser to fill in HTML forms and follow links. That same process is applicable to non-browser based clients.

Many existing Java-based client APIs, such as the Apache HTTP client API or supplied with the JDK place too much focus on the Client-Server constraint for the exchanges of request and responses rather than a resource, identified by a URI, and the use of a fixed set of HTTP methods.

A resource in the Jersey client API is an instance of the Java class WebResource, and encapsulates a URI. The fixed set of HTTP methods are methods on WebResource or if using the builder pattern (more on this later) are the last methods to be called when invoking an HTTP method on a resource. The representations are Java types, instances of which, may contain links that new instances of WebResource may be created from.

3.3. Ease of use and reusing JAX-RS artifacts

Since a resource is represented as a Java type it makes it easy to configure, pass around and inject in ways that is not so intuitive or possible with other client-side APIs.

The Jersey Client API reuses many aspects of the JAX-RS and the Jersey implementation such as:

  1. URI building using UriBuilder and UriTemplate to safely build URIs;

  2. Support for Java types of representations such as byte[], String, InputStream, File, DataSource and JAXB beans in addition to Jersey specific features such as JSON support and MIME Multipart support.

  3. Using the builder pattern to make it easier to construct requests.

Some APIs, like the Apache HTTP client or, can be rather hard to use and/or require too much code to do something relatively simple.

This is why the Jersey Client API provides support for wrapping HttpURLConnection and the Apache HTTP client. Thus it is possible to get the benefits of the established implementations and features while getting the ease of use benefit.

It is not intuitive to send a POST request with form parameters and receive a response as a JAXB object with such an API. For example with the Jersey API this is very easy:

Example 3.1. POST request with form parameters

  1 Form f = new Form();
  2 f.add("x", "foo");
  3 f.add("y", "bar");
  5 Client c = Client.create();
  6 WebResource r = c.resource("http://localhost:8080/form");
  8 JAXBBean bean = r.
 10     .accept(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON_TYPE)
 11     .post(JAXBBean.class, f);

In the above code a Form is created with two parameters, a new WebResource instance is created from a Client then the Form instance is POSTed to the resource, identified with the form media type, and the response is requested as an instance of a JAXB bean with an acceptable media type identifying the Java Script Object Notation (JSON) format. The Jersey client API manages the serialization of the Form instance to produce the request and de-serialization of the response to consume as an instance of a JAXB bean.

If the code above was written using HttpURLConnection then the developer would have to write code to serialize the form sent in the POST request and de-serialize the response to the JAXB bean. In addition further code would have to be written to make it easy to reuse the same resource “http://localhost:8080/form” that is encapsulated in the WebResource type.

3.4. Getting started with the Jersey client

Refer to the dependencies chapter, and specifically the Core client section, for details on the dependencies when using the Jersey client with Maven and Ant.

Refer to the Java API documentation for details on the Jersey client API packages and classes.

Refer to the Java API Apache HTTP client documentation for details on how to use the Jersey client API with the Apache HTTP client.

3.5. Overview of the API

To utilize the client API it is first necessary to create an instance of a Client, for example:

    Client c = Client.create();

3.5.1. Configuring a Client and WebResource

The client instance can then be configured by setting properties on the map returned from the getProperties methods or by calling the specific setter methods, for example the following configures the client to perform automatic redirection for appropriate responses:

        ClientConfig.PROPERTY_FOLLOW_REDIRECTS, true);

which is equivalent to the following:


Alternatively it is possible to create a Client instance using a ClientConfig object for example:

    ClientConfig cc = new DefaultClientConfig();
        ClientConfig.PROPERTY_FOLLOW_REDIRECTS, true);
    Client c = Client.create(cc);

Once a client instance is created and configured it is then possible to obtain a WebResource instance, which will inherit the configuration declared on the client instance. For example, the following creates a reference to a Web resource with the URI “http://localhost:8080/xyz”:

    WebResource r = c.resource("http://localhost:8080/xyz");

and redirection will be configured for responses to requests invoked on the Web resource.

Client instances are expensive resources. It is recommended a configured instance is reused for the creation of Web resources. The creation of Web resources, the building of requests and receiving of responses are guaranteed to be thread safe. Thus a Client instance and WebResource instances may be shared between multiple threads.

In the above cases a WebResource instance will utilize HttpUrlConnection or HttpsUrlConnection, if the URI scheme of the WebResource is “http” or “https” respectively.

3.5.2. Building a request

Requests to a Web resource are built using the builder pattern (see RequestBuilder) where the terminating method corresponds to an HTTP method (see UniformInterface). For example,

    String response = r.accept(
        header("X-FOO", "BAR").

The above sends a GET request with an Accept header of application/json, application/xml and a non-standard header X-FOO of BAR.

If the request has a request entity (or representation) then an instance of a Java type can be declared in the terminating HTTP method, for PUT, POST and DELETE requests. For example, the following sends a POST request:

    String request = "content";
    String response = r.accept(
        header("X-FOO", "BAR").
        post(String.class, request);

where the String "content" will be serialized as the request entity (see the section "Java instances and types for representations" section for further details on the supported Java types). The Content-Type of the request entity may be declared using the type builder method as follows:

    String response = r.accept(
         header("X-FOO", "BAR").
         post(String.class, request);

or alternatively the request entity and type may be declared using the entity method as follows:

    String response = r.accept(
         header("X-FOO", "BAR").
         entity(request, MediaType.TEXT_PLAIN_TYPE).

3.5.3. Receiving a response

If the response has a entity (or representation) then the Java type of the instance required is declared in the terminating HTTP method. In the above examples a response entity is expected and an instance of String is requested. The response entity will be de-serialized to a String instance.

If response meta-data is required then the Java type ClientResponse can be declared from which the response status, headers and entity may be obtained. For example, the following gets both the entity tag and response entity from the response:

    ClientResponse response = r.get(ClientResponse.class);
    EntityTag e = response.getEntityTag();
    String entity = response.getEntity(String.class);

If the ClientResponse type is not utilized and the response status is greater than or equal to 300 then the runtime exception UniformInterfaceException is thrown. This exception may be caught and the ClientResponse obtained as follows:

    try {
        String entity = r.get(String.class);
    } catch (UniformInterfaceException ue) {
        ClientResponse response = ue.getResponse();

3.5.4. Creating new WebResources from a WebResource

A new WebResource can be created from an existing WebResource by building from the latter's URI. Thus it is possible to build the request URI before building the request. For example, the following appends a new path segment and adds some query parameters:

    WebResource r = c.resource("http://localhost:8080/xyz");

    MultivaluedMap<String, String> params = new MultivaluedMapImpl();
    params.add("foo", "x");
    params.add("bar", "y");
    String response = r.path("abc").

that results in a GET request to the URI "http://localhost:8080/xyz/abc?foo=x&bar=y".

3.5.5. Java instances and types for representations

All the Java types for representations supported by the Jersey server side for requests and responses are also supported on the client side. This includes the standard Java types as specified by JAX-RS in section 4.2.4 in addition to JSON, Atom and Multipart MIME as supported by Jersey.

To process a response entity (or representation) as a stream of bytes use InputStream as follows:

    InputStream in = r.get(InputStream.class);
    // Read from the stream

Note that it is important to close the stream after processing so that resources are freed up.

To POST a file use File as follows:

    File f = ...
    String response =, f);

Refer to the JAXB sample to see how JAXB with XML and JSON can be utilized with the client API (more specifically, see the unit tests).

3.6. Adding support for new representations

The support for new application-defined representations as Java types requires the implementation of the same provider-based interfaces as for the server side JAX-RS API, namely MessageBodyReader and MessageBodyWriter, respectively, for request and response entities (or inbound and outbound representations). Refer to the entity provider sample for such implementations utilized on the server side.

Classes or implementations of the provider-based interfaces need to be registered with a ClientConfig and passed to the Client for creation. The following registers a provider class MyReader which will be instantiated by Jersey:

    ClientConfig cc = new DefaultClientConfig();
    Client c = Client.create(cc);

The following registers an instance or singleton of MyReader:

    ClientConfig cc = new DefaultClientConfig();
    MyReader reader = ...
    Client c = Client.create(cc);

3.7. Using filters

Filtering requests and responses can provide useful functionality that is hidden from the application layer of building and sending requests, and processing responses. Filters can read/modify the request URI, headers and entity or read/modify the response status, headers and entity.

The Client and WebResource classes extend from Filterable and that enables the addition of ClientFilter instances. A WebResource will inherit filters from its creator, which can be a Client or another WebResource. Additional filters can be added to a WebResource after it has been created. For requests, filters are applied in reverse order, starting with the WebResource filters and then moving to the inherited filters. For responses, filters are applied in order, starting with inherited filters and followed by the filters added to the WebResource. All filters are applied in the order in which they were added. For instance, in the following example the Client has two filters added, filter1 and filter2, in that order, and the WebResource has one filter added, filter3:

    ClientFilter filter1 = ...
    ClientFilter filter2 = ...
    Client c = Client.create();
    ClientFilter filter3 = ...
    WebResource r = c.resource(...);

After a request has been built the request is filtered by filter3, filter2 and filter1 in that order. After the response has been received the response is filtered by filter1, filter2 and filter3 in that order, before the response is returned.

Filters are implemented using the “russian doll” stack-based pattern where a filter is responsible for calling the next filter in the ordered list of filters (or the next filter in the “chain” of filters). The basic template for a filter is as follows:

    class AppClientFilter extends ClientFilter {
        public ClientResponse handle(ClientRequest cr) {
            // Modify the request
            ClientRequest mcr = modifyRequest(cr);
            // Call the next filter
            ClientResponse resp = getNext().handle(mcr);
            // Modify the response
            return modifyResponse(resp);

The filter modifies the request (if required) by creating a new ClientRequest or modifying the state of the passed ClientRequest before calling the next filter. The call to the next request will return the response, a ClientResponse. The filter modifies the response (if required) by creating a new ClientResponse or modifying the state of the returned ClientResponse. Then the filter returns the modified response. Filters are re-entrant and may be called by multiple threads performing requests and processing responses.

3.7.1. Supported filters

The Jersey Client API currently supports two filters:

  1. A GZIP content encoding filter, GZIPContentEncodingFilter. If this filter is added then a request entity is compressed with the Content-Encoding of gzip, and a response entity if compressed with a Content-Encoding of gzip is decompressed. The filter declares an Accept-Encoding of gzip.

  2. A logging filter, LoggingFilter. If this filter is added then the request and response headers as well as the entities are logged to a declared output stream if present, or to System.out if not. Often this filter will be placed at the end of the ordered list of filters to log the request before it is sent and the response after it is received.

The filters above are good examples that show how to modify or read request and response entities. Refer to the source code of the Jersey client for more details.

3.8. Testing services

The Jersey client API was originally developed to aid the testing of the Jersey server-side, primarily to make it easier to write functional tests in conjunction with the JUnit framework for execution and reporting. It is used extensively and there are currently over 1000 tests.

Embedded servers, Grizzly and a special in-memory server, are utilized to deploy the test-based services. Many of the Jersey samples contain tests that utilize the client API to server both for testing and examples of how to use the API. The samples utilize Grizzly or embedded Glassfish to deploy the services.

The following code snippets are presented from the single unit test HelloWorldWebAppTest of the helloworld-webapp sample. The setUp method, called before a test is executed, creates an instance of the Glassfish server, deploys the application, and a WebResource instance that references the base resource:

    protected void setUp() throws Exception {

        // Start Glassfish
        glassfish = new GlassFish(BASE_URI.getPort());
        // Deploy Glassfish referencing the web.xml
        ScatteredWar war = new ScatteredWar(
            BASE_URI.getRawPath(), new File("src/main/webapp"),
            new File("src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml"),
                new File("target/classes").
        Client c = Client.create();
        r = c.resource(BASE_URI);

The tearDown method, called after a test is executed, stops the Glassfish server.

   protected void tearDown() throws Exception {

The testHelloWorld method tests that the response to a GET request to the Web resource returns “Hello World”:

    public void testHelloWorld() throws Exception {
       String responseMsg = r.path("helloworld").
       assertEquals("Hello World", responseMsg);

Note the use of the path method on the WebResource to build from the base WebResource.

3.9. Security with Http(s)URLConnection

3.9.1. With Http(s)URLConnection

The support for security, specifically HTTP authentication and/or cookie management with Http(s)URLConnection is limited due to constraints in the API. There are currently no specific features or properties on the Client class that can be set to support HTTP authentication. However, since the client API, by default, utilizes HttpURLConnection or HttpsURLConnection, it is possible to configure system-wide security settings (which is obviously not sufficient for multiple client configurations).

For HTTP authentication the can be extended and statically registered. Refer to the Http authentication document for more details. For cookie management the can be extended and statically registered. Refer to the Cookie Management document for more details.

To utilize HTTP with SSL it is necessary to utilize the “https” scheme. For certificate-based authentication see the class HTTPSProperties for how to set and

3.9.2. With Apache HTTP client

The support for HTTP authentication and cookies is much better with the Apache HTTP client than with HttpURLConnection. See the Java documentation for the package com.sun.jersey.client.apache, ApacheHttpClientState and ApacheHttpClientConfig for more details.