JAX-RPC stands for Java API for XML-based RPC. It’s an API for building Web services and clients that used remote procedure calls (RPC) and XML. Often used in a distributed client/server model, an RPC mechanism enables clients to execute procedures on other systems.

In JAX-RPC, a remote procedure call is represented by an XML-based protocol such as SOAP. The SOAP specification defines envelope structure, encoding rules, and a convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses. These calls and responses are transmitted as SOAP messages over HTTP. In this release, JAX-RPC relies on SOAP 1.1 and HTTP 1.1.

Although JAX-RPC relies on complex protocols, the API hides this complexity from the application developer. On the server side, the developer specifies the remote procedures by defining methods in an interface written in the Java programming language. The developer also codes one or more classes that implement those methods. Client programs are also easy to code. A client creates a proxy, a local object representing the service, and then simply invokes methods on the proxy.

With JAX-RPC, clients and Web services have a big advantage–the platform independence of the Java programming language. In addition, JAX-RPC is not restrictive: a JAX-RPC client can access a Web service that is not running on the Java platform and vice versa. This flexibility is possible because JAX-RPC uses technologies defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): HTTP, SOAP, and the Web Service Description Language (WSDL). WSDL specifies an XML format for describing a service as a set of endpoints operating on messages.

A Simple Example: HelloWorld

This example shows you how to use JAX-RPC to create a Web service named HelloWorld. A remote client of the HelloWorld service can invoke the sayHello method, which accepts a string parameter and then returns a string.

HelloWorld at Runtime

Figure 9-1 shows a simplified view of the HelloWorld service after it’s been deployed. Here’s a more detailed description of what happens at runtime:

  1. To call a remote procedure, the HelloClient program invokes a method on a stub, a local object that represents the remote service.
  2. The stub invokes routines in the JAX-RPC runtime system.
  3. The runtime system converts the remote method call into a SOAP message and then transmits the message as an HTTP request.
  4. When the server receives the HTTP request, the JAX-RPC runtime system extracts the SOAP message from the request and translates it into a method call.
  5. The JAX-RPC runtime system invokes the method on the tie object.
  6. The tie object invokes the method on the implementation of the HelloWorld service.
  7. The runtime system on the server converts the method’s response into a SOAP message and then transmits the message back to the client as an HTTP response.
  8. On the client, the JAX-RPC runtime system extracts the SOAP message from the HTTP response and then translates it into a method response for the HelloClient program.

Figure 9-1 The HelloWorld Example at Runtime

The application developer only provides the top layers in the stacks depicted by Figure 9-1. Table 9-1 shows where the layers originate.

Table 9-1 Who (or What) Provides the Layers 
HelloClient Program
HelloWorld Service (definition interface and implementation class)
Provided by the application developer
Stubs Generated by the wscompile tool, which is run by the application developer
Ties Generated by the wsdeploy tool, which is run by the application developer
JAX-RPC Runtime
Included with the Java WSDP

HelloWorld Files

To create a service with JAX-RPC, an application developer needs to provide a few files. For the HelloWorld example, these files are in the <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/hello directory:

  • HelloIF.java – the service definition interface
  • HelloImpl.java – the service definition implementation class, it implements the HelloIF interface
  • HelloClient.java – the remote client that contacts the service and then invokes the sayHello method
  • config.xml – a configuration file read by the wscompile tool
  • jaxrpc-ri.xml – a configuration file read by the wsdeploy tool
  • web.xml – a deployment descriptor for the Web component (a servlet) that dispatches to the service

Setting Up

If you haven’t already done so, follow these instructions in the chapter Getting Started With Tomcat:

Building and Deploying the Service

The basic steps for developing a JAX-RPC Web service are as follows.

  1. Code the service definition interface and implementation class.
  2. Compile the service definition code of step 1.
  3. Package the code in a WAR file.
  4. Generate the ties and the WSDL file.
  5. Deploy the service.

The sections that follow describe each of these steps in more detail.

Coding the Service Definition Interface and Implementation Class

A service definition interface declares the methods that a remote client may invoke on the service. The interface must conform to a few rules:

  • It extends the java.rmi.Remote interface.
  • It must not have constant declarations, such as public final static.
  • The methods must throw the java.rmi.RemoteException or one of its subclasses. (The methods may also throw service-specific exceptions.)
  • Method parameters and return types must be supported JAX-RPC types. See the section Types Supported By JAX-RPC.

In this example, the service definition interface is HelloIF.java:

package hello;

import java.rmi.Remote;
import java.rmi.RemoteException;

public interface HelloIF extends Remote {
    public String sayHello(String s) throws RemoteException;

In addition to the interface, you’ll need to code the class that implements the interface. In this example, the implementation class is called HelloImpl:

package hello;

public class HelloImpl implements HelloIF {

    public String message ="Hello";

    public String sayHello(String s) {
        return message + s;

Compiling the Service Definition Code

To compile HelloIF.java and HelloImpl.java, go to the <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/hello directory and type the following:

ant compile-server

This command places the resulting class files in the build/shared subdirectory.

Packaging the WAR File

To create the WAR file that contains the service code, type these commands:

ant setup-web-inf
ant package

The setup-web-inf target copies the class and XML files to the build/WEB-INF subdirectory. The package target runs the jar command and bundles the files into a WAR file named dist/hello-portable.war. This WAR file is not ready for deployment because it does not contain the tie classes. You’ll learn how to create a deployable WAR file in the next section. The hello-portable.war contains the following files:


The class files were created by the compile-server target shown in the previous section. The web.xml file is the deployment descriptor for the Web application that implements the service. Unlike the web.xml file, the jaxrpc-ri.xml file is not part of the specifications and is implementation-specific. The jaxrpc-ri.xml file for this example follows:


Several of the webServices attributes, such as targetNamespaceBase, are used in the WSDL file, which you’ll create in the next section. (WSDL files can be complex and are not discussed in this tutorial. See Further Information.) Note that the urlPattern value (/hello) is part of the service’s URL, which is described in the section Verifying the Deployment).

For more information about the syntax of the jaxrpc-ri.xml file, see the XML Schema file: <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/common/jax-rpc-ri-dd.xsd.

Generating the Ties and the WSDL File

To generate the ties and the WSDL file, type the following:

ant process-war

This command runs the wsdeploy tool as follows:

wsdeploy -tmpdir build/wsdeploy-generated 
-o dist/hello-deployable.war dist/hello-portable.war

This command runs the wsdeploy tool, which performs these tasks:

  • Reads the dist/hello-portable.war file as input
  • Gets information from the jaxrpc-ri.xml file that’s inside the hello-portable.war file
  • Generates the tie classes for the service
  • Generates a WSDL file named MyHello.wsdl
  • Packages the tie classes, the Hello.wsdl file, and the contents of hello-portable.war file into a deployable WAR file named dist/hello-jaxrpc.war

The –tmpdir option specifies the directory where wsdeploy stores the files that it generates, including the WSDL file, tie classes, and intermediate source code files. If you specify the –keep option, these files are not deleted.

There are several ways to access the WSDL file generated by wsdeploy:

  • Run wsdeploy with the –keep option and locate the WSDL file in the directory specified by the –tmpdir option.
  • Unpack (jar -x) the WAR file output by wsdeploy and locate the WSDL file in the WEB-INF directory.
  • Deploy and verify the service as described in the following sections. A link to the WSDL file is on the HTML page of the URL shown in Verifying the Deployment.

Note that the wsdeploy tool does not deploy the service; instead, it creates a WAR file that is ready for deployment. In the next section, you will deploy the service in the hello-jaxrpc.war file that was created by wsdeploy.

Deploying the Service

To deploy the service, type the following:

ant deploy 

For subsequent deployments , run ant redeploy as described in the section Iterative Development.

Verifying the Deployment

To verify that the service has been successfully deployed, open a browser window and specify the service endpoint’s URL:


The browser should display a page titled Web Services, which lists the port name MyHello with a status of ACTIVE. This page also has a URL to the service’s WSDL file.

The hello-jaxrpc portion of the URL is the context path of the servlet that implements the HelloWorld service. This portion corresponds to the prefix of the hello-jaxrpc.war file. The /hello string of the URL matches the value of the urlPattern attribute of the jaxrpc-ri.xml file. Note that the forward slash in the /hello value of urlPattern is required. For a full listing of the jaxrpc-ri.xml file, see Packaging the WAR File.

Undeploying the Service

At this point in the tutorial, do not undeploy the service. When you are finished with this example, you can undeploy the service by typing this command:

ant undeploy

Building and Running the Client

To develop a JAX-RPC client, you follow these steps:

  1. Generate the stubs.
  2. Code the client.
  3. Compile the client code.
  4. Package the client classes into a JAR file.
  5. Run the client.

The following sections describe each of these steps.

Generating the Stubs

Before generating the stubs, be sure to install the Hello.wsdl file according to the instructions in Deploying the Service. To create the stubs, go to the <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/hello directory and type the following:

ant generate-stubs

This command runs the wscompile tool as follows:

wscompile -gen:client -d build/client 
-classpath build/shared config.xml

The -gen:client option instructs wscompile to generate client-side classes such as stubs. The -d option specifies the destination directory of the generated files.

The wscompile tool generates files based on the information it reads from the Hello.wsdl and config.xml files. The Hello.wsdl file was intalled on Tomcat when the service was deployed. The location of Hello.wsdl is specified by the <wsdl> element of the config.xml file, which follows:


The tasks performed by the wscompile tool depend on the contents of the config.xml file. For more information about the syntax of the config.xml file, see the XML Schema file: <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/common/jax-rpc-ri-config.xsd.

Coding the Client

HelloClient is a stand-alone program that calls the sayHello method of the HelloWorld service. It makes this call through a stub, a local object which acts as a proxy for the remote service. Because the stubs is created before runtime (by wscompile), it is usually called a static stub.

To create the stub, HelloClient invokes a private method named createProxy. Note that the code in this method is implementation-specific and might not be portable because it relies on the MyHello_Impl object. (The MyHello_Impl class was generated by wscompile in the preceding section.) After it creates the stub, the client program casts the stub to the type HelloIF, the service definition interface.

The source code for HelloClient follows:

package hello;

import javax.xml.rpc.Stub;

public class HelloClient {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        try {
            Stub stub = createProxy(); HelloIF hello = (HelloIF)stub; System.out.println(hello.sayHello("Duke!"));         } catch (Exception ex) {

    private static Stub createProxy() {
        // Note: MyHello_Impl is implementation-specific.
        return (Stub)(new MyHello_Impl().getHelloIFPort());

Compiling the Client Code

Because the client code refers to the stub classes, be sure to follow the instructions in Generating the Stubs before compiling the client. To compile the client, go to the <JWSDP_HOME>/docs/tutorial/examples/jaxrpc/hello directory and type the following:

ant compile-client 

Packaging the Client

To package the client into a JAR file, type the following command:

ant jar-client

This command creates the dist/hello-client.jar file.

Running the Client

To run the HelloClient program, type the following:

ant run

The program should display this line:

Hello Duke!

The ant run target executes this command:

java -classpath <cpath> hello.HelloClient

The classpath includes the hello-client.jar file that you created in the preceding section, as well as several JAR files that belong to the Java WSDP. In order to run the client remotely, all of these JAR files must reside on the remote client’s computer.

Iterative Development

In order to show you each step of development, the previous sections instructed you to type several ant commands. However, it would be inconvenient to type all of those commands during iterative development. To save time, after you’ve initially deployed the service, you can iterate through these steps:

  1. Test the application.
  2. Edit the source files.
  3. Execute ant build to create the deployable WAR file.
  4. Execute ant redeploy to undeploy and deploy the service.
  5. Execute ant build-static to create the JAR file for a client with static stubs.
  6. Execute ant run.

Implementation-Specific Features

To implement the JAX-RPC Specification, the Java WSDP requires some features that are not described in the specification. These features are specific to the Java WSDP and might not be compatible with implementations from other vendors. For JAX-RPC, the implementation-specific features of the Java WSDP follow:

  • config.xml – See Generating the Stubs for an example.
  • jaxrpc-ri.xml – See Packaging the WAR File for an example.
  • ties – In the preceding example, the ties are in the hello-jaxrpc.war file, which is implementation-specific. (The hello-portable.war file, however, is not implementation-specific.)
  • stubs – The stubs are in the hello-client.jar file. Note that the HelloClient program instantiates MyHelloImpl, a static stub class that is implementation-specific. Because they do not contain static stubs, dynamic clients do not have this limitation. For more information about dynamic clients, see the sections A Dynamic Proxy Client Example and A Dynamic Invocation Interface (DII) Client Example .
  • tools – The wsdeploy, wscompile, and deploytool utilities.
  • support for collections – See Table 9-1.
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