Asynchronous Microservices with Vert.x

Preface

I must admit that as soon as I saw Vert.x documentation I liked this concept. This may have happened because I had previously use with very similar framework which I used to create simple and lightweight applications exposing REST APIs – Node.js. It is really fine framework, but has one big disadvantage for me – it is JavaScript runtime. What is worth mentioning Vert.x is polyglot, it supports all the most popular JVM based languages like Java, Scala, Groovy, Kotlin and even JavaScript. These are not all of its advantages. It’s lightweight, fast and modular. I was pleasantly surprised when I added the main Vert.x dependencies to my pom.xml and there was not downloaded many of other dependencies, as is often the case when using Spring Boot framework.
Well, I will not elaborate about the advantages and key concepts of this toolkit. I think you can read more about it in other articles. The most important thing for us is that using Vert.x we can can create high performance and asynchronous microservices based on Netty framework. In addition, we can use standardized microservices mechanisms such as service discovery, configuration server or circuit breaking.

Sample application source code is available on Github. It consists of two modules account-vertx-service and customer-vertx-service. Customer service retrieves data from Consul registry and invokes acccount service API. Architecture of the sample solution is visible on the figure below.

vertx

Building services

To be able to create HTTP service exposing REST API we need to include the following dependency into pom.xml.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-web</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>

Here’s the fragment from account service where I defined all API methods. The first step (1) was to declare Router which is one of the core concepts of Vert.x-Web. A router takes an HTTP request, finds the first matching route for that request, and passes the request to that route. The next step (2), (3) is to add some handlers, for example BodyHandler, which allows you to retrieve request bodies and has been added to POST method. Then we can begin to define API methods (4), (5), (6), (7), (8). And finally (9) we are starting HTTP server on the port retrieved from configuration.

Router router = Router.router(vertx); // (1)
router.route("/account/*").handler(ResponseContentTypeHandler.create()); // (2)
router.route(HttpMethod.POST, "/account").handler(BodyHandler.create()); // (3)
router.get("/account/:id").produces("application/json").handler(rc -> { // (4)
	repository.findById(rc.request().getParam("id"), res -> {
		Account account = res.result();
		LOGGER.info("Found: {}", account);
		rc.response().end(account.toString());
	});
});
router.get("/account/customer/:customer").produces("application/json").handler(rc -> { // (5)
	repository.findByCustomer(rc.request().getParam("customer"), res -> {
		List<Account> accounts = res.result();
		LOGGER.info("Found: {}", accounts);
		rc.response().end(Json.encodePrettily(accounts));
	});
});
router.get("/account").produces("application/json").handler(rc -> { // (6)
	repository.findAll(res -> {
		List<Account> accounts = res.result();
		LOGGER.info("Found all: {}", accounts);
		rc.response().end(Json.encodePrettily(accounts));
	});
});
router.post("/account").produces("application/json").handler(rc -> { // (7)
	Account a = Json.decodeValue(rc.getBodyAsString(), Account.class);
	repository.save(a, res -> {
		Account account = res.result();
		LOGGER.info("Created: {}", account);
		rc.response().end(account.toString());
	});
});
router.delete("/account/:id").handler(rc -> { // (8)
	repository.remove(rc.request().getParam("id"), res -> {
		LOGGER.info("Removed: {}", rc.request().getParam("id"));
		rc.response().setStatusCode(200);
	});
});
...
vertx.createHttpServer().requestHandler(router::accept).listen(conf.result().getInteger("port")); // (9)

All API methods uses repository object to communicate with datasource. In this case I decided to use Mongo. Vert.x has a module for interacting with that database, we need to include as new dependency.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-mongo-client</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>

Mongo client, same as all other Vert.x modules, works asynchronously. That’s why we need to use AsyncResult Handler to pass result from repository object. To be able to pass custom object as AsyncResult we have to annotate it with @DataObject and add toJson method.

public AccountRepositoryImpl(final MongoClient client) {
	this.client = client;
}

@Override
public AccountRepository save(Account account, Handler<AsyncResult<Account>> resultHandler) {
	JsonObject json = JsonObject.mapFrom(account);
	client.save(Account.DB_TABLE, json, res -> {
		if (res.succeeded()) {
			LOGGER.info("Account created: {}", res.result());
			account.setId(res.result());
			resultHandler.handle(Future.succeededFuture(account));
		} else {
			LOGGER.error("Account not created", res.cause());
			resultHandler.handle(Future.failedFuture(res.cause()));
		}
	});
	return this;
}

@Override
public AccountRepository findAll(Handler<AsyncResult<List<Account>>> resultHandler) {
	client.find(Account.DB_TABLE, new JsonObject(), res -> {
		if (res.succeeded()) {
			List<Account> accounts = res.result().stream().map(it -> new Account(it.getString("_id"), it.getString("number"), it.getInteger("balance"), it.getString("customerId"))).collect(Collectors.toList());
			resultHandler.handle(Future.succeededFuture(accounts));
		} else {
			LOGGER.error("Account not found", res.cause());
			resultHandler.handle(Future.failedFuture(res.cause()));
		}
	});
	return this;
}

Here’s Account model class.

@DataObject
public class Account {

	public static final String DB_TABLE = "account";

	private String id;
	private String number;
	private int balance;
	private String customerId;

	public Account() {

	}

	public Account(String id, String number, int balance, String customerId) {
		this.id = id;
		this.number = number;
		this.balance = balance;
		this.customerId = customerId;
	}

	public Account(JsonObject json) {
		this.id = json.getString("id");
		this.number = json.getString("number");
		this.balance = json.getInteger("balance");
		this.customerId = json.getString("customerId");
	}

	public String getId() {
		return id;
	}

	public void setId(String id) {
		this.id = id;
	}

	public String getNumber() {
		return number;
	}

	public void setNumber(String number) {
		this.number = number;
	}

	public int getBalance() {
		return balance;
	}

	public void setBalance(int balance) {
		this.balance = balance;
	}

	public String getCustomerId() {
		return customerId;
	}

	public void setCustomerId(String customerId) {
		this.customerId = customerId;
	}

	public JsonObject toJson() {
		return JsonObject.mapFrom(this);
	}

	@Override
	public String toString() {
		return Json.encodePrettily(this);
	}

}

Verticles

It is worth to mention a few words about running an application written in Vert.x. It is based on verticles. Verticles are chunks of code that get deployed and run by Vert.x. A Vert.x instance maintains N event loop threads by default. When creating a verticle we have to extend abstract class AbstractVerticle.

public class AccountServer extends AbstractVerticle {

	@Override
	public void start() throws Exception {
		...
	}
}

I created two verticles per microservice. First for HTTP server and second for communication with Mongo. Here’s main application method where I’m deploying verticles.

public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
	Vertx vertx = Vertx.vertx();
	vertx.deployVerticle(new MongoVerticle());
	vertx.deployVerticle(new AccountServer());
}

Well, now we should obtain the reference inside AccountServer verticle to the service running on MongoVerticle. To achieve it we have to generate proxy classes using vertx-codegen module.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-service-proxy</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-codegen</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
	<scope>provided</scope>
</dependency>

First, annotate repository interface with @ProxyGen ad all public methods with @Fluent.

@ProxyGen
public interface AccountRepository {

	@Fluent
	AccountRepository save(Account account, Handler<AsyncResult<Account>> resultHandler);

	@Fluent
	AccountRepository findAll(Handler<AsyncResult<List<Account>>> resultHandler);

	@Fluent
	AccountRepository findById(String id, Handler<AsyncResult<Account>> resultHandler);

	@Fluent
	AccountRepository findByCustomer(String customerId, Handler<AsyncResult<List<Account>>> resultHandler);

	@Fluent
	AccountRepository remove(String id, Handler<AsyncResult<Void>> resultHandler);

	static AccountRepository createProxy(Vertx vertx, String address) {
		return new AccountRepositoryVertxEBProxy(vertx, address);
	}

	static AccountRepository create(MongoClient client) {
		return new AccountRepositoryImpl(client);
	}

}

Generator needs additional configuration inside pom.xml file. After running command mvn clean install on the parent project all generated classes should be available under src/main/generated directory for every microservice module.

<plugin>
	<groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
	<artifactId>maven-compiler-plugin</artifactId>
	<version>3.6.2</version>
	<configuration>
		<encoding>${project.build.sourceEncoding}</encoding>
		<source>${java.version}</source>
		<target>${java.version}</target>
		<useIncrementalCompilation>false</useIncrementalCompilation>
		<annotationProcessors>		<annotationProcessor>io.vertx.codegen.CodeGenProcessor</annotationProcessor>
		</annotationProcessors>
		<generatedSourcesDirectory>${project.basedir}/src/main/generated</generatedSourcesDirectory>
		<compilerArgs>
			<arg>-AoutputDirectory=${project.basedir}/src/main</arg>
		</compilerArgs>
	</configuration>
</plugin>

Now we are able to obtain AccountRepository reference by calling createProxy with account-service name.

AccountRepository repository = AccountRepository.createProxy(vertx, "account-service");

Service Discovery

To use the Vert.x service discovery, we have to add the following dependencies into pom.xml. In the first of them there are mechanisms for built-in Vert.x discovery, which is rather not usable if we would like to invoke microservices running on different hosts. Fortunately, there are also available some additional bridges, for example Consul bridge.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-service-discovery</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-service-discovery-bridge-consul</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>

Great, we only have to declare service discovery and register service importer. Now, we can retrieve configuration from Consul, but I assume we also would like to register our service. Unfortunately, problems start here… Like the toolkit authors say It (Vert.x) does not export to Consul and does not support service modification. Maybe somebody will explain me why this library can not also export data to Consul – I just do not understand it. I had the same problem with Apache Camel some months ago and I will use the same solution I developed that time. Fortunately, Consul has simple API for service registration and deregistration. To use it in our appplication we need to include Vert.x HTTP client to our dependencies.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-web-client</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>

Then using declared WebClient while starting application we can register service by invoking Consul PUT method.

WebClient client = WebClient.create(vertx);
...
JsonObject json = new JsonObject().put("ID", "account-service-1").put("Name", "account-service").put("Address", "127.0.0.1").put("Port", 2222).put("Tags", new 		JsonArray().add("http-endpoint"));
client.put(discoveryConfig.getInteger("port"), discoveryConfig.getString("host"), "/v1/agent/service/register").sendJsonObject(json, res -> {
	LOGGER.info("Consul registration status: {}", res.result().statusCode());
});

Once the account-service have registered itself on discovery server we can invoke it from another microservice – in this case from customer-service. We only have to create ServiceDiscovery object and register Consul service importer.

ServiceDiscovery discovery = ServiceDiscovery.create(vertx);
...
discovery.registerServiceImporter(new ConsulServiceImporter(), new JsonObject().put("host", discoveryConfig.getString("host")).put("port", discoveryConfig.getInteger("port")).put("scan-period", 2000));

Here’s AccountClient fragment, which is responsile for invoking GET /account/customer/{customerId} from account-service. It obtains service reference from discovery object and cast it to WebClient instance. I don’t know if you have noticed that apart from the standard fields such as ID, Name or Port, I also set the Tags field to the value of the type of service that we register. In this case it will be an http-endpoint. Whenever Vert.x reads data from Consul, it will be able to automatically assign a service reference to WebClient object.

public AccountClient findCustomerAccounts(String customerId, Handler<AsyncResult<List<Account>>> resultHandler) {
	discovery.getRecord(r -> r.getName().equals("account-service"), res -> {
		LOGGER.info("Result: {}", res.result().getType());
		ServiceReference ref = discovery.getReference(res.result());
		WebClient client = ref.getAs(WebClient.class);
		client.get("/account/customer/" + customerId).send(res2 -> {
			LOGGER.info("Response: {}", res2.result().bodyAsString());
			List<Account> accounts = res2.result().bodyAsJsonArray().stream().map(it -> Json.decodeValue(it.toString(), Account.class)).collect(Collectors.toList());
			resultHandler.handle(Future.succeededFuture(accounts));
		});
	});
	return this;
}

Config

For configuration management within the application Vert.x Config module is responsible.

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.vertx</groupId>
	<artifactId>vertx-config</artifactId>
	<version>${vertx.version}</version>
</dependency>

There are many configuration stores, which can be used as configuration data location:

  • File
  • Environment Variables
  • HTTP
  • Event Bus
  • Git
  • Redis
  • Consul
  • Kubernetes
  • Spring Cloud Config Server

I selected the simplest one – file. But it can be easily changed only by defining another type on ConfigStoreOptions object. For loading configuration data from the store ConfigRetriever is responsible. It reads configuration as JsonObject.

ConfigStoreOptions file = new ConfigStoreOptions().setType("file").setConfig(new JsonObject().put("path", "application.json"));
ConfigRetriever retriever = ConfigRetriever.create(vertx, new ConfigRetrieverOptions().addStore(file));
retriever.getConfig(conf -> {
	JsonObject discoveryConfig = conf.result().getJsonObject("discovery");
	vertx.createHttpServer().requestHandler(router::accept).listen(conf.result().getInteger("port"));
	JsonObject json = new JsonObject().put("ID", "account-service-1").put("Name", "account-service").put("Address", "127.0.0.1").put("Port", 2222).put("Tags", new JsonArray().add("http-endpoint"));
	client.put(discoveryConfig.getInteger("port"), discoveryConfig.getString("host"), "/v1/agent/service/register").sendJsonObject(json, res -> {
		LOGGER.info("Consul registration status: {}", res.result().statusCode());
	});
});

Configuration file application.json is available under src/main/resources and it contains application port, service discovery and datasource adresses.

{
	"port" : 2222,
	"discovery" : {
		"host" : "192.168.99.100",
		"port" : 8500
	},
	"datasource" : {
		"host" : "192.168.99.100",
		"port" : 27017,
		"db_name" : "test"
	}
}

Final thoughts

Vert.x authors wouldn’t like to define their solution as a framework, but as a tool-kit. They don’t tell you what is a correct way to write an application, but only give you a lot of useful bricks helping to create your app. With Vert.x you can create fast and lightweight APIs basing on non-blocking, asynchronous I/O. It gives you a lot of possibilities, as you can see on the Config module example, where you can even use Spring Cloud Config Server as a configuration store. But it is also not free from drawbacks, as I showed on the service registration with Consul example. Vert.x also allows to create reactive microservices with RxJava, what seems to be interesting option, I hope to describe in the future.

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Author: Piotr Mińkowski

IT Architect, Java Software Developer

4 thoughts on “Asynchronous Microservices with Vert.x”

  1. Hi,
    About the service export for Consul, we are looking for a contributor. If you are interested just open a PR. We would be very happy to have this feature.

    Like

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