Welcome!

Java Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Websphere

Websphere: Article

Using JAXB to Develop Enterprise Applications

JAXB offers power, ease, and flexibility

JAXB (Java Architecture for XML Binding) provides a convenient way to bind an XML Schema to a representation in Java code and makes it easy for developers to incorporate XML data and processing functions into applications based on Java technology without having to know much about XML itself.

It has been proven over the past few years that the best form of information exchange (in a typical B2B or B2C scenario) is through XML. There are various XML-based standards (schemas) for both the horizontal and vertical market sectors, and there are ongoing efforts to move toward a standardized format.

With the proliferation of XML-based information exchange, the industry will write lots of Java code to consume XML Schema-based documents. JAXB (Java Architecture for XML Binding) provides a convenient way to bind an XML Schema to a representation in Java code. This makes it easy for developers to incorporate XML data and processing functions in applications based on Java technology without having to know much about XML itself.

This article will show developers how to utilize the power, ease, and flexibility of JAXB from within the WebSphere Studio Application Developer (referred to as WebSphere Studio), while developing real-world enterprise applications. With JAXB, developers no longer need to learn the intricacies of XML parsing techniques!

What You Need to Know
Although developers need not worry about XML parsing techniques anymore, they may need to do some reading up.

JAXB is built upon XML Schema, so a sound understanding of XML Schema is imperative in order to harness the power of JAXB. Business domain objects and their structural relationships can be well represented through an XML Schema, provided you have a good understanding of its power. The essence of JAXB lies in its customization of the XML Schema for Java objects. These customizations follow the rules of XML Schema. Adding JAXB customizations to a business domain object model (represented in XML Schema) is simple once the hard work of creating the schema is accomplished.

This article assumes you understand:

  • XML Schemas (the more detailed the better)
  • JAXB
  • WebSphere Studio 5.1
Software and Packages Used
You must have the following products to complete the steps in this article:
  • WebSphere Studio Application Developer 5.1
  • Java Web Services Developer's Pack (JWSDP v1.3)
While we are all familiar with WebSphere Studio, JWSDP requires a little more introduction.

JWSDP from Sun Microsystems is a free integrated toolkit you can use to build, test, and deploy XML applications, Web services, and Web applications with the latest Web services technologies and standards implementations. JAXB is an essential part of this package. JWSDP 1.3 must be downloaded and installed (see the Development Environment Setup section for a detailed explanation of the process).

JAXB Basics
In object-oriented programming (OOP) there are two pivotal concepts: classes and objects. Classes provide the structure for software concepts or entities, whereas objects are live instances of the classes. A similar analogy can be used in XML representation. An XML Schema can be conceptualized as the allowable structure and constructs that can be used in the creation of an XML document (which conforms to the schema). The schema (in XML) and classes (in OOP) are the conceptual building blocks, whereas documents (in XML) and objects (in OOP) are live instances that conform to their respective conceptual building blocks.

Working with Java objects and classes is fundamentally different from working with XML. JAXB brings in the idea of data binding, which creates a correspondence between the XML schemas and the Java classes, and then utilizes the mapping to convert XML documents to and from Java classes. The JAXB schema compiler creates Java classes and interfaces based on the structure of the XML Schema. JAXB libraries are used in marshaling and unmarshaling. Marshaling is the process of turning one or more Java objects into an XML document, whereas unmarshaling is the reverse process - creating a Java object from an XML document.

To use JAXB in a Java application the first step is to run the JAXB compiler (XJC) to create the Java classes and interfaces. For every element in the XML Schema, one or two Java interfaces and corresponding implementation classes (which implement the interfaces) are generated. The implementation classes are generated in a package that is separate from the one in which the interfaces are generated. Other than the interfaces and the implementation classes, JAXB-specific classes are generated to perform marshaling and unmarshaling, and to create instances of the implementation classes, among other things. (Note: The implementation classes are only instantiated through a factory class generated by the JAXB compiler). The two classes that are primarily used in working with JAXB-created Java objects are:

  • JAXBContext: Used for marshaling, unmarshaling, and validating XML documents
  • ObjectFactory: Used to instantiate the various implementation classes
Development Environment Setup
The first step is to download and install the JWSDP. As a part of JWSDP, the JAXB compile and runtime libraries and executables are installed. The next step is to download the JAXBTestEAR.zip file from www.sys-con.com/websphere/sourcec.cfm and extract the contents into the C:\temp folder. Next, create a new workspace and import the JAXBTestEAR file:
  1. Create a folder called JAXB and another called workspace under JAXB in the C:\ drive.
  2. Open WebSphere Studio and point the workspace to C:\JAXB\workspace.
  3. Select File>Import from the WebSphere Studio menu.
  4. Select the EAR file type to import (see Figure 1).
  5. Browse the file system and select the JAXBTestEAR.ear file. Click Finish.
  6. The imported project in the J2EE Perspectives, Project Navigator tab should look like Figure 2.
With the initial setup complete, the JAXB compiler needs to be set up as an External Tool through the WebSphere Studio menu.
  1. Select External Tools from the WebSphere Studio menu as shown in Figure 3.
  2. Click New to create a new configuration. In the Main tab, key in the Name, Location, Working Directory, and Arguments as shown in Figure 4. (Browse the File system and Workspace in order to obtain the values.)
  3. Switch to the Resource tab and check the checkboxes. Highlight the $resource Scope Variable and then choose JAXBTest as the specific resource.
  4. Click Apply to save the configurations. Click Run to run the JAXB compiler (xjc.bat) and generate the Java classes and interfaces. The output in the output console will resemble Figure 5.
This completes the setup of the development environment inside WebSphere Studio.

Example Scenario
The example we will develop is a simple GUI menuing system. A widget is a conceptual element that defines the whole set of drawing components that constitute a graphical user interface. Examples of widgets are rectangles, squares, circles, and any other drawable visual component. Our simplistic GUI consists of three visual components in the form of rectangles, squares, and circles. The Widgets component encapsulates a list of the visual components (rectangles, squares, and circles) in any random order. A client can construct the visual components from a given XML document and then retrieve the details of each visual component (to be used in any way the client requires).

Listing 1 illustrates the XML Schema (for the example scenario) in some detail. The xs:annotation element is a container for the xs:appinfo and xs:documentation elements, which contain additional information. These two elements are dedicated to holding machine-processable (xs:appinfo) information and human-readable documentation (xs:documentation).

The section highlighted in blue denotes the JAXB-specific global customizations of the schema that are applicable to the entire schema file. The section highlighted in red denotes the JAXB-specific customizations in which the package where the generated files will be placed is defined (in this case, com.ibm.domainobjects).

In the globalBindings section the collectionType = java.util.ArrayList is highlighted in blue. It denotes that any Collections that are created inside the Java objects all conform to the List interface in Java and are actual instances of ArrayList.

The xjc:serializable element makes sure that all the generated classes are serializable. (This is particularly important when objects are sent and received over the wire while data transfer between various application tiers is performed.)

A superClass called Shape is also defined. This denotes that all the elements defined in this schema have a common superclass called Shape. I show this here in order to illustrate that the classes that are created from the schema can also refer to external classes, i.e., classes that are not created by the JAXB compiler.

The definition of the Widgets element shows that there is a property called "Widgets" that is defined. Had this property not been defined, the binding compiler would have autogenerated a name for the list of choices (for the rectangles, squares, and circles). The autogeneration usually takes the names of the subelements and combines them with "Or". Hence the accessor name for the list would have been something like:

java.util.List getRectangleOrSquareOrCircle();

Clearly this is not meaningful. The jxb:property name="Widgets" denotes that the accessor method will be getWidgets, which is clearly much more intuitive than the autogenerated name.

In the example, I will demonstrate:

  1. How to set up the usage of the external JAXB compiler from WebSphere Studio
  2. How to use the JAXB compiler to generate Java interfaces and classes
  3. How to create the Java classes from an XML document
  4. How to instantiate Java classes, set their attributes, and then generate the corresponding XML document (the reverse of the previous step)
Various other customizing facets can be used in an XML Schema. The detailed specification for JAXB Customizations is found in the Resources section in the links for the JAXB Specification, Customizing JAXB Schemas, and Using JAXB.

Using the JAXB Generated Classes
The JAXB compiler is run only once. There is no need to run it again if the schema is not changed. However, if the schema undergoes any changes, then the JAXB compiler preprocessing step must be executed again in order to regenerate the Java interfaces and classes. In this event, it is advisable to delete all of the generated classes from a previous run of the JAXB compiler before running this step again. This is particularly helpful in cases in which elements in the schema are deleted. The generated classes from the new run of the compiler do not delete the old generated classes and hence some unused classes from the previous version of the schema will be left behind.

Once all the classes are generated, the fun begins, with the bulk of the tedious (if you consider it so) setup work already completed. It is time to use the generated classes in order to convert XML documents into Java classes and vice versa. We will concentrate on a client class called JAXBTester. This class demonstrates two activities. It first reads in a given XML document from which it creates the Java object structure/tree.

Analysis of JAXBTester
JAXBTester has three methods. A brief explanation of each of the methods is in order.

  • createContext: Creates an instance of the JAXBContext class from which we can get a handle to an instance of the Unmarshaller and Marshaller instances.
  • unmarshallIt: Accepts an XML document (which in our case is the "schema.xml" file found in the schema folder under WebContent). It creates an instance of the UIWidgets class (the root element in the XML document), then invokes the getWidgets accessor method on the UIWidgets instance and iterates through the list of contained Widgets, retrieving the various Widget-specific attributes in each iteration.
  • marshallIt: Illustrates how we can instantiate any element in the XML Schema (for which there are generated Java objects), set the various attribute values, and then add each object to its container. An instance of ObjectFactory is used to create the various instances of the Java objects, for example RectangleImpl, CircleImpl, etc. The getWidgets method on the instance of UIWidgetsImpl returns a handle to an instance of a live List to which the child elements (instances of RectangleImpl, SquareImpl, and CircleImpl) can be added. Once the object structure is created, a single method call on the instance of the Marshaller generates the XML representation of the object structure.

    Notice how not a single line of XML-specific code needs to be coded by the developer; the specifics of the conversion are all contained inside the generated classes.

    Running the Sample
    Before running the client class several steps must be followed in sequence:

    1. The JAXB compiler must be run to generate the Java object tree. (This step should already have been completed.)
    2. The import statements that are commented out in the JAXBTester must be uncommented. The method bodies of unmarshallIt and marshallIt that are commented out need to be uncommented prior to compilation of JAXBTester. These portions are commented out because the classes that are referenced (both in the import statements and inside the methods) are all generated classes. When the EAR file was imported, these generated classes did not exist; hence, prior to Step 1 JAXBTester would not have compiled.
    3. The value of the absPathToXML, which denotes the path to the schema.xml file, must be changed (if required) to reflect the path to the file in the file system.
    Now you're all set to run the sample and see the results for yourself.

    Conclusion
    This article introduced you to the basics of JAXB. The most important aspect of this article was the demonstration of how JAXB can be used in a J2EE application and how the all development can be achieved from our friendly and most loved IDE - WebSphere Studio.

    The best way to learn JAXB is to get very familiar and comfortable with XML Schema and then learn the tricks of JAXB customizations. The best way to learn XML Schema is to read a book on it, and then apply the concepts in real-world scenarios, exploiting the various features. (The O'Reilly book XML Schema is my favorite.)

    Resources

  • The Java Web Services Developer Pack 1.3: http://java.sun.com/webservices/downloads/webservicespack.html
  • Data Binding with JAXB: www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/edu/x-dw-xjaxb-i.html
  • The JAXB Specification: http://java.sun.com/xml/downloads/jaxb.html
  • Customizing JAXB Schemas: http://java.sun.com/xml/jaxb/users-guide/jaxb-custom.html
  • Using JAXB: http://java.sun.com/xml/jaxb/users-guide/jaxb-using.html
  • Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB): http://java.sun.com/developer/technicalArticles/WebServices/jaxb/index.html
  • More Stories By Tilak Mitra

    Tilak Mitra is a Certified Senior IT Architect at IBM. He specializes in mid- to large-range enterprise and application architectures based on J2EE, MQ, and other EAI technologies. You can reach him at [email protected]

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
    IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
    Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
    The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
    The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
    "People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
    SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
    In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
    DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
    Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
    The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
    The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
    Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
    "There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
    The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

    ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

    Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...