Piotr's TechBlog

Introduction to Reactive APIs with Postgres, R2DBC, Spring Data JDBC and Spring WebFlux

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There are pretty many technologies listed in the title of this article. Spring WebFlux has been introduced with Spring 5 and Spring Boot 2 as a project for building reactive-stack web applications. I have already described how to use it together with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud for building reactive microservices in that article: Reactive Microservices with Spring WebFlux and Spring Cloud. Spring 5 has also introduced some projects supporting reactive access to NoSQL databases like Cassandra, MongoDB or Couchbase. But there were still a lack in support for reactive to access to relational databases. The change is coming together with R2DBC (Reactive Relational Database Connectivity) project. That project is also being developed by Pivotal members. It seems to be very interesting initiative, however it is rather at the beginning of the road. Anyway, there is a module for integration with Postgres, and we will use it for our demo application. R2DBC will not be the only one new interesting solution described in this article. I also show you how to use Spring Data JDBC – another really interesting project released recently.
It is worth mentioning some words about Spring Data JDBC. This project has been already released, and is available under version 1.0. It is a part of bigger Spring Data framework. It offers a repository abstraction based on JDBC. The main reason of creating that library is allow to access relational databases using Spring Data way (through CrudRepository interfaces) without including JPA library to the application dependencies. Of course, JPA is still certainly the main persistence API used for Java applications. Spring Data JDBC aims to be much simpler conceptually than JPA by not implementing popular patterns like lazy loading, caching, dirty context, sessions. It also provides only very limited support for annotation-based mapping. Finally, it provides an implementation of reactive repositories that uses R2DBC for accessing relational database. Although that module is still under development (only SNAPSHOT version is available), we will try to use it in our demo application. Let’s proceed to the implementation.

Including dependencies

We use Kotlin for implementation. So first, we include some required Kotlin dependencies.

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.jetbrains.kotlin</groupId>
	<artifactId>kotlin-stdlib</artifactId>
	<version>${kotlin.version}</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>com.fasterxml.jackson.module</groupId>
	<artifactId>jackson-module-kotlin</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>org.jetbrains.kotlin</groupId>
	<artifactId>kotlin-reflect</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>org.jetbrains.kotlin</groupId>
	<artifactId>kotlin-test-junit</artifactId>
	<version>${kotlin.version}</version>
	<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>

We should also add kotlin-maven-plugin with support for Spring.

<plugin>
	<groupId>org.jetbrains.kotlin</groupId>
	<artifactId>kotlin-maven-plugin</artifactId>
	<version>${kotlin.version}</version>
	<executions>
		<execution>
			<id>compile</id>
			<phase>compile</phase>
			<goals>
				<goal>compile</goal>
			</goals>
		</execution>
		<execution>
			<id>test-compile</id>
			<phase>test-compile</phase>
			<goals>
				<goal>test-compile</goal>
			</goals>
		</execution>
	</executions>
	<configuration>
		<args>
			<arg>-Xjsr305=strict</arg>
		</args>
		<compilerPlugins>
			<plugin>spring</plugin>
		</compilerPlugins>
	</configuration>
</plugin>

Then, we may proceed to including frameworks required for the demo implementation. We need to include the special SNAPSHOT version of Spring Data JDBC dedicated for accessing database using R2DBC. We also have to add some R2DBC libraries and Spring WebFlux. As you may see below only Spring WebFlux is available in stable version (as a part of Spring Boot RELEASE).

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-webflux</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.data</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-data-jdbc</artifactId>
	<version>1.0.0.r2dbc-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>io.r2dbc</groupId>
	<artifactId>r2dbc-spi</artifactId>
	<version>1.0.0.M5</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>io.r2dbc</groupId>
	<artifactId>r2dbc-postgresql</artifactId>
	<version>1.0.0.M5</version>
</dependency>

It is also important to set dependency management for Spring Data project.

<dependencyManagement>
	<dependencies>
		<dependency>
			<groupId>org.springframework.data</groupId>
			<artifactId>spring-data-releasetrain</artifactId>
			<version>Lovelace-RELEASE</version>
			<scope>import</scope>
			<type>pom</type>
		</dependency>
	</dependencies>
</dependencyManagement>

Repositories

We are using well known Spring Data style of CRUD repository implementation. In that case we need to create interface that extends ReactiveCrudRepository interface.
Here’s the implementation of repository for managing Employee objects.

interface EmployeeRepository : ReactiveCrudRepository<Employee, Int< {
    @Query("select id, name, salary, organization_id from employee e where e.organization_id = $1")
    fun findByOrganizationId(organizationId: Int) : Flux<Employee>
}

Here’s the another implementation of repository – this time for managing Organization objects.

interface OrganizationRepository : ReactiveCrudRepository<Organization, Int< {
}

Implementing Entities and DTOs

Kotlin provides a convenient way of creating entity class by declaring it as data class. When using Spring Data JDBC we have to set primary key for entity by annotating the field with @Id. It assumes the key is automatically incremented by database. If you are not using auto-increment columns, you have to use a BeforeSaveEvent listener, which sets the ID of the entity. However, I tried to set such a listener for my entity, but it just didn’t work with reactive version of Spring Data JDBC.
Here’s an implementation of Employee entity class. What is worth mentioning Spring Data JDBC will automatically map class field organizationId into database column organization_id.

data class Employee(val name: String, val salary: Int, val organizationId: Int) {
    @Id 
    var id: Int? = null
}

Here’s an implementation of Organization entity class.

data class Organization(var name: String) {
    @Id 
    var id: Int? = null
}

R2DBC does not support any lists or sets. Because I’d like to return list with employees inside Organization object in one of API endpoints I have created DTO containing such a list as shown below.

data class OrganizationDTO(var id: Int?, var name: String) {
    var employees : MutableList = ArrayList()
    constructor(employees: MutableList) : this(null, "") {
        this.employees = employees
    }
}

The SQL scripts corresponding to the created entities are visible below. Field type serial will automatically creates sequence and attach it to the field id.

CREATE TABLE employee (
    name character varying NOT NULL,
    salary integer NOT NULL,
    id serial PRIMARY KEY,
    organization_id integer
);
CREATE TABLE organization (
    name character varying NOT NULL,
    id serial PRIMARY KEY
);

Building sample web applications

For the demo purposes we will build two independent applications employee-service and organization-service. Application organization-service is communicating with employee-service using WebFlux WebClient. It gets the list of employees assigned to the organization, and includes them to response together with Organization object. Sample applications source code is available on GitHub under repository sample-spring-data-webflux: https://github.com/piomin/sample-spring-data-webflux.
Ok, let’s begin from declaring Spring Boot main class. We need to enable Spring Data JDBC repositories by annotating the main class with @EnableJdbcRepositories.

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableJdbcRepositories
class EmployeeApplication

fun main(args: Array<String>) {
    runApplication<EmployeeApplication>(*args)
}

Working with R2DBC and Postgres requires some configuration. Probably due to an early stage of progress in development of Spring Data JDBC and R2DBC there is no Spring Boot auto-configuration for Postgres. We need to declare connection factory, client, and repository inside @Configuration bean.

@Configuration
class EmployeeConfiguration {

    @Bean
    fun repository(factory: R2dbcRepositoryFactory): EmployeeRepository {
        return factory.getRepository(EmployeeRepository::class.java)
    }

    @Bean
    fun factory(client: DatabaseClient): R2dbcRepositoryFactory {
        val context = RelationalMappingContext()
        context.afterPropertiesSet()
        return R2dbcRepositoryFactory(client, context)
    }

    @Bean
    fun databaseClient(factory: ConnectionFactory): DatabaseClient {
        return DatabaseClient.builder().connectionFactory(factory).build()
    }

    @Bean
    fun connectionFactory(): PostgresqlConnectionFactory {
        val config = PostgresqlConnectionConfiguration.builder() //
                .host("192.168.99.100") //
                .port(5432) //
                .database("reactive") //
                .username("reactive") //
                .password("reactive123") //
                .build()

        return PostgresqlConnectionFactory(config)
    }

}

Finally, we can create REST controllers that contain the definition of our reactive API methods. With Kotlin it does not take much space. The following controller definition contains three GET methods that allows to find all employees, all employees assigned to a given organization or a single employee by id.

@RestController
@RequestMapping("/employees")
class EmployeeController {

    @Autowired
    lateinit var repository : EmployeeRepository

    @GetMapping
    fun findAll() : Flux<Employee> = repository.findAll()

    @GetMapping("/{id}")
    fun findById(@PathVariable id : Int) : Mono<Employee> = repository.findById(id)

    @GetMapping("/organization/{organizationId}")
    fun findByorganizationId(@PathVariable organizationId : Int) : Flux<Employee> = repository.findByOrganizationId(organizationId)

    @PostMapping
    fun add(@RequestBody employee: Employee) : Mono<Employee> = repository.save(employee)

}

Inter-service Communication

For the OrganizationController the implementation is a little bit more complicated. Because organization-service is communicating with employee-service, we first need to declare reactive WebFlux WebClient builder.

@Bean
fun clientBuilder() : WebClient.Builder {
	return WebClient.builder()
}

Then, similar to the repository bean the builder is being injected into the controller. It is used inside findByIdWithEmployees method for calling method GET /employees/organization/{organizationId} exposed by employee-service. As you can see on the code fragment below it provides reactive API and return Flux object containing list of found employees. This list is injected into OrganizationDTO object using zipWith Reactor method.

@RestController
@RequestMapping("/organizations")
class OrganizationController {

    @Autowired
    lateinit var repository : OrganizationRepository
    @Autowired
    lateinit var clientBuilder : WebClient.Builder

    @GetMapping
    fun findAll() : Flux<Organization> = repository.findAll()

    @GetMapping("/{id}")
    fun findById(@PathVariable id : Int) : Mono<Organization> = repository.findById(id)

    @GetMapping("/{id}/withEmployees")
    fun findByIdWithEmployees(@PathVariable id : Int) : Mono<OrganizationDTO> {
        val employees : Flux<Employee> = clientBuilder.build().get().uri("http://localhost:8090/employees/organization/$id")
                .retrieve().bodyToFlux(Employee::class.java)
        val org : Mono = repository.findById(id)
        return org.zipWith(employees.collectList())
                .map { tuple -> OrganizationDTO(tuple.t1.id as Int, tuple.t1.name, tuple.t2) }
    }

    @PostMapping
    fun add(@RequestBody employee: Organization) : Mono<Organization> = repository.save(employee)

}

How it works?

Before running the tests we need to start Postgres database. Here’s the Docker command used for running Postgres container. It is creating user with password, and setting up default database.

$ docker run -d --name postgres -p 5432:5432 -e POSTGRES_USER=reactive -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=reactive123 -e POSTGRES_DB=reactive postgres

Then we need to create some tests tables, so you have to run SQL script placed in the section Implementing Entities and DTOs. After that you can start our test applications. If you do not override default settings provided inside application.yml files employee-service is listening on port 8090, and organization-service on port 8095. The following picture illustrates the architecture of our sample system.

Now, let’s add some test data using reactive API exposed by the applications.

$ curl -d '{"name":"Test1"}' -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST http://localhost:8095/organizations
$ curl -d '{"name":"Name1", "balance":5000, "organizationId":1}' -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST http://localhost:8090/employees
$ curl -d '{"name":"Name2", "balance":10000, "organizationId":1}' -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST http://localhost:8090/employees

Finally you can call GET organizations/{id}/withEmployees method, for example using your web browser. The result should be similar to the result visible on the following picture.

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