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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Microservices Configuration With Spring Cloud Config

Preface

Although every microservice instance is an independent unit, we usually manage them from one central location. We are talking about watching the application logs (Kibana), metrics ans statistics (Zipkin, Grafana), instance monitoring and configuration management. I’m going to say a little more about configuration management with Spring Cloud Config framework.

Spring Cloud Config provides server and client-side support for externalized configuration in a distributed system. With the Config Server you have a central place to manage external properties for applications across all environments.

The concept of using configuration server inside microservices architecture is visualized on the figure below. The configuration is stored in the version control system (in the most cases it is Git) as a YAML or properties files. Spring Cloud Config Server pulls configuration from VCS and exposes it as RESTful endpoints. Configuration server registers itself at a discovery service. Every microservice application connects to registration service to discover an address of configuration server using its name. Then it invokes REST endpoint to download the newest configuration settings on startup.

config-server

Sample application

Sample application source code is available on GitHub. For the purpose of this example, I also created a repository for storing configuration files, which is available here. Let’s begin from configuration server. To enable configuration server and its registration in the discovery service we have to add following dependencies into pom.xml.

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-config-server</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-eureka</artifactId>
</dependency>

In the application main class we should add the following annotations.

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableConfigServer
@EnableDiscoveryClient
public class ConfigServer {

	public static void main(String[] args) {
		SpringApplication.run(ConfigServer.class, args);
	}

}

The last thing to do is to define configuration in application.yml. I set default port, application name (for discovery) and Git repository address and credentials. Spring Cloud Config Server by default makes a clone of the remote git repository and if the local copy gets dirty it cannot update the local copy from remote repository.  To solve this problem I set a force-pull property to force Spring Cloud Config Server pull from remote repository every time a new request is incoming.

server:
  port: ${PORT:9999}

spring:
  application:
    name: config-server
  cloud:
    config:
      server:
        git:
          uri: https://github.com/piomin/sample-config-repo.git
          force-pull: true
          username: ${github.username}
          password: ${github.password}

It’s everything that had to be done on the server side. If you run your Spring Boot application it should be visible in discovery service as config-server. To enable interaction with config server on the client side we should add one dependency in pom.xml.

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-config</artifactId>
</dependency>

According to theory we should not have basic configuration defined in application.yml file but in bootstrap.yml. Why we need have anything there? At least application has to know discovery server address to be able to invoke configuration server. In addition, we can override default parameters for configuration invoking, such as config server discovery name (the default is configserver), configuration name, profile and label. By default microservice tries to detect configuration with name equal to ${spring.application.name}, label equal to ‘master’ and profiles read from ${spring.profiles.active} property.

spring:
  application:
    name: account-service
  cloud:
    config:
      discovery:
        enabled: true
        serviceId: config-server
      name: account
      profile: development
      label: develop

eureka:
  client:
    serviceUrl:
      defaultZone: http://localhost:8761/eureka/
  instance:
    leaseRenewalIntervalInSeconds: 1
    leaseExpirationDurationInSeconds: 2

The further part of the application configuration is located in the dedicated repository in account-development.yml file. Application tries to find this file in ‘develop’ branch. Such a file is cloned by configuration server and exposed in all the following REST endpoints:
/{application}/{profile}[/{label}]
/{application}-{profile}.yml
/{label}/{application}-{profile}.yml
/{application}-{profile}.properties
/{label}/{application}-{profile}.properties

If you call in your web browser our example configuration available under first endpoint http://localhost:9999/account/development/develop you should see full configuration in JSON format, where properties are available inside propertySources. Let me say some words about account-service configuration. Here’s YAML file where I set server port, mongo database connection settings, ribbon client configuration and specific application settings – the list of test accounts.

server:
  port: ${PORT:2222}

spring:
  data:
    mongodb:
      host: 192.168.99.100
      port: 27017
      username: micro
      password: micro

ribbon:
  eureka:
    enabled: true

test:
  accounts:
    - id: 1
      number: '0654321789'
      balance: 2500
      customerId: 1
    - id: 2
      number: '0654321780'
      balance: 0
      customerId: 1
    - id: 3
      number: '0650981789'
      balance: 12000
      customerId: 2

Before running application you should start mongo database.

docker run -d --name mongo -p 27017:27017 mongodb

All the find endpoints can be switched to connect mongodb repository or test accounts repository read form remote configuration by passing parameter ‘true’ in the end of each REST path. Test data is read from configuration file which is stored under ‘test’ key.

@Repository
@ConfigurationProperties(prefix = "test")
public class TestAccountRepository {

	private List<Account> accounts;

	public List<Account> getAccounts() {
		return accounts;
	}

	public void setAccounts(List<Account> accounts) {
		this.accounts = accounts;
	}

	public Account findByNumber(String number) {
		return accounts.stream().filter(it -> it.getNumber().equals(number)).findFirst().get();
	}

}

Dynamic configuration reload

Ok, now our application configuration is loaded from server on startup. But let’s imagine we need to dynamically reload it without application restart. It is also possible with Spring Cloud Config. To enable this feature we need to add a dependency on the spring-cloud-config-monitor library and activate the Spring Cloud Bus. In the presented sample I used AMQP message broker RabbitMQ as cloud bus provider.

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-config-monitor</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
	<groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-bus-amqp</artifactId>
</dependency>

To enable monitor for configuration server set the following property in application.yml file.

spring:
  application:
    name: config-server
  cloud:
    config:
      server:
        monitor:
          github:
            enabled: true

Now we have /monitor endpoint available on config server. The library spring-cloud-starter-bus-amqp should also be added on the client side. Monitor endpoint can be invoked by webhook configured on Git repository manager like Github, Bitbucket or Gitlab. We can also easily simulate such a webhook by calling POST /monitor manually. For example GitHub command should has the header X-Github-Event: push and JSON body with changes information like {"commits": [{"modified": ["account-service.yml"]}]}.

Like I mentioned before for the sample we use RabbitMQ server. It can be launched using its docker image.

docker run -d --name rabbit -p 30000:5672 -p 30001:15672 rabbitmq:management

To override spring auto configuration for RabbitMQ put following lines in your configuration on the both client and server side.

spring:
  rabbitmq:
    host: 192.168.99.100
    port: 30000
    username: guest
    password: guest

I also have to modify a little client service configuration to make it works with push notifications. Now it looks like as you can see below. When I overrided default application name using spring.cloud.config.* properties the event RefreshRemoteApplicationEvent has not been reveived by account service.

spring:
  application:
    name: account-service
  cloud:
    config:
      discovery:
        enabled: true
        serviceId: config-server
      profile: default

To enable dynamic configuration refreshing add @RefreshScope annotation to Spring bean. I enabled refresh on the client’s side beans: AccountController and TestAccountRepository. Finally we can test our configuration.

1. I changed and committed one property inside account-service.yml, for example balance for test.accounts with id=1.

2. Then I called POST request on /monitor endpoint with payload {"commits": [{"modified": ["account-service.yml"]}]}

3. If account service received refresh event from configuration server you should see in your logs the following fragment:
Received remote refresh request. Keys refreshed [test.accounts[0].balance]

4. Now, you can invoke test endpoint for modified account number, for me it was http://localhost:2222/accounts/0654321789/true.

Conclusion

With the Config Server you have a central place to manage configuration for applications across all environments. You can take advantage of the benefits offered by VCS systems such as branching or versioning or define native support for local files. The configuration can be reloaded only at application startup or dynamically after each change committed in the VCS repository. Spring Cloud Config Server is available for discovery and can be autodetected by all microservices registered at register server like Eureka. There are several alternative mechanisms for automatic configuration management for Spring Boot applications like Spring Cloud Consul Config or Spring Cloud Zookeeper Config.