Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Supporting Accept-Post in JAX-RS applications

Recently in the W3C Linked Data Platform working group we did a survey of the various discovery (or also referred to as affordances) there are for various methods or actions a client may want to introspect or learn from error responses.  One specific scenario is the case of which resource formats (content-types) are accepted by a server when a client wants to send the representation of a resource using POST with the intent of giving birth to a new resource.  The current approaches rely on trial-and-error or some out-of-band knowledge the client application has.  The trial-and-error approach relies on the client sending content of the content-type it believes the server accepts, if the server does accept it and successfully processes the request, it will send back a friendly 201 (maybe 202 or other 200-range) status code.  If the server doesn't like the content-type the client is giving it, it can kindly reply with a 415 (Unsupported Media Type).  Well the client knows what doesn't work but has to guess what might.  Let me introduce you to Accept-Post which is being proposed as a way for a server to tell a client what content-types it prefers.  Accept-Post is somewhat like the Accept header but more closely matches the newer (and less supported) Accept-Patch header.

Ok, that is a enough about the motivation and usage.  I thought I'd share the few lines of Java code needed to support this in JAX-RS 2.0 based implementations.  Since I want the HTTP response header Accept-Post to be returned for a variety of use scenarios such as: when JAX-RS returns a 415, on OPTIONS and HEAD requests, and so on, I decided to always return the header.  To do this, I implemented the ContainerResponseFilter with a simple Class and filter() method as:

import javax.ws.rs.container.ContainerRequestContext;
import javax.ws.rs.container.ContainerResponseContext;
import javax.ws.rs.container.ContainerResponseFilter;
import javax.ws.rs.ext.Provider;

public class AcceptPostResponseFilter 
       implements ContainerResponseFilter {
   @Override
   public void filter(ContainerRequestContext requestContext,
                      ContainerResponseContext responseContext) 
                      throws IOException {
      responseContext.getHeaders().putSingle(
         "Accept-Post", 
         "text/turtle", "application/ld+json", "image/png");
   }
}

That is about it, except of course you needs to register this filter with your JAX-RS Application, such as:
import java.util.HashSet;
import java.util.Set;
import javax.ws.rs.core.Application;

public class MyApplication extends Application {
   @Override
   public Set<Class<?>> getClasses() {
      Set<Class<?>> classes = new HashSet<Class<?>>();
      classes.add(AcceptPostResponseFilter.class);
      return classes;
   }
}



I've made this change for the in-progress LDP reference implementation occurring at Eclipse Lyo.

Similar approaches to other web server implementations or configurations make implementing Accept-Post quite trivial as well. Feel free to provide feedback on the IETF working draft for Accept-Post as well.

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