Spring by examples – RMI

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Java Posts
Tags: , , , , ,

RMI is just one of the strategies that you can choose from when you want to implement remoting in your Spring application. At the moment, Spring provides support for Hessian, Burlap, RMI, Web services and an own HTTP remoting solution. All of these remoting strategies were designed so they can share a common configuration style allowing you to manage the exporting and accessing method from outside your business code, in the well known non-intrusive Spring manner. This means that Spring offers a POJO-based programming model for both your server and client, no matter which remoting solution you choose. The reference documentation regarding the remoting features of Spring is available here.

For now we will take a look at how Spring handles RMI while peeking into the code of a small demo application. Our example contains a simple delivery service exposed through a DeliveryServiceIntf interface that has two methods for handling Delivery objects. Below is some of the code for these objects.

public class Delivery implements Serializable { private String requesterName; private Date deliveryDate; public Delivery(String requesterName, Date deliveryDate) { this.requesterName = requesterName; this.deliveryDate = deliveryDate; } ... } public interface DeliveryServiceIntf { void newDelivery(Delivery delivery); List getDeliveries(); }

As you can see, the service interface does not need to extend the java.rmi.Remote in order to be used as an RMI service. Also, it’s remotely accessible methods don’t need to throw java.rmi.RemoteException. This is a Spring enhancement that applies to all it’s remoting solutions, not just to RMI. But this is no reason to get scared, because Spring will manage the invocation failure in it’s own fashion by throwing a org.springframework.remoting.RemoteAccessException. This is an unchecked exception so the client can decide if it wants to catch and handle this exception or just ignore it when it’s occurrence it’s considered fatal. This is however Spring’s recommended approach, but you can also expose traditional RMI implementations with Spring. Actually, this is an important issue that you should consider and analyze when remoting with Spring. While both traditional and Spring-managed RMI clients can access a traditional RMI server implementation exported through Spring, only a Spring client will be able to access a Spring exported RMI service that uses a POJO-based model.
Getting back to our example, we have below the implementation of our service which I tried to keep as simple as possible:

public class DeliveryServiceImpl implements DeliveryServiceIntf { private List deliveries = new ArrayList(); public void newDelivery(Delivery delivery) { deliveries.add(delivery); } public List getDeliveries() { return deliveries; } }

After we have everything implemented on the server side, we need to configure Spring to export the service through RMI. The following Spring configuration snippet does just that.

 <bean id="deliveryService">      

This is the point where we can choose which one of Spring’s remoting solutions we want to adopt. In our case we will use org.springframework.remoting.rmi.RmiServiceExporter which will also manage the RMI registry for us. The serviceName and registryPort properties are RMI specific settings that will constitute the information the client side needs to access our service. The URL for the service in this case will look something like rmi://hostname:1234/delivery-service. The serviceInterface property indicates the POJO whose methods will be the subject of RMI invoking and the service property references a bean implementing the business logic of the service.
At this point, having all up-and-running on the server side requires a small amount of effort and it only consists of classic Spring context initialization.

public class RmiServerTest { public static void main(String[] args) { ApplicationContext ctx = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("com/test/rmi/server/rmi-server-context.xml"); } }

Now let’s see how does it work on the client side and how should we proceed to access the remote service. Here is actually a little bit easier because everything relies on the Spring bean configuration file, as seen below, while the rest of the code is pretty straightforward.


As you can see, we just need to define the deliveryService bean of class org.springframework.remoting.rmi.RmiProxyFactoryBean. This will indicate Spring that the deliveryService bean will actually be a proxy accessing the remote service at the URL rmi://localhost:1234/delivery-service, and that the business logic of the service will be used by the client through the methods of the DeliveryServiceIntf interface.
Accessing this bean will create a proxy that we can cast to the DeliveryServiceIntf interface and that will dispatch all the calls on this interface to the RMI service. Below is the pretty self-explanatory client-side code.

public class RmiClientTest { public static void main(String[] args) { ApplicationContext ctx = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("com/test/rmi/client/rmi-client-context.xml"); DeliveryServiceIntf deliveryService = (DeliveryServiceIntf) ctx.getBean("deliveryService"); deliveryService.newDelivery(new Delivery("John Doe", new Date())); ... } }

Therefore, the client will not be aware of the fact that the service is running remote and even less about the fact that its method calls are marshaled through RMI. The Spring bean configuration file takes care of these details, so the client code will not be affected if we change the remoting strategy or even if we choose to run the service in-process.

The code for this demo can be found here. The first step is to run ant run-server in order to launch the RMI server and afterwards you need to run ant run-client from another console to start up the RMI client.
Hope this post can give you a basic feeling about Spring’s RMI support. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of this article.

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