testing123 testing123 - 3 years ago 273
reST (reStructuredText) Question

What is a good strategy for converting jpa entities into restful resources

Restful resources do not always have a one-to-one mapping with your jpa entities. As I see it there are a few problems that I am trying to figure out how to handle:

  1. When a resource has information that is populated and saved by more than one entity.

  2. When an entity has more information in it that you want to send down as a resource. I could just use Jackson's
    but I would still have issue 1, 3 and 4.

  3. When an entity (like an aggregate root) has nested entities and you want to include part of its nested entities but only to a certain level of nesting as your resource.

  4. When you want to exclude once piece of an entity when its part of one parent entity but exclude a separate piece when its part of a different parent entity.

  5. Blasted circular references (I got this mostly working with JSOG using Jackson's

Possible solutions:
The only way I could think of that would handle all of these issues would be to create a whole bunch of "resource" classes that would have constructors that took the needed entities to construct the resource and put necessary getters and setters for that resource on it. Is that overkill?

To solve 2, 3, 4 , and 5 I could just do some pre and post processing on the actual entity before sending it to Jackson to serialize or deserialize my pojo into JSON, but that doesn't address issue 1.

These are all problems I would think others would have come across and I am curious what solutions other people of come up with. (I am currently using JPA 2, Spring MVC, Jackson, and Spring-Data but open to other technologies)

Answer Source

With a combination of JAX_RS 1.1 and Jackson/GSON you can expose JPA entities directly as REST resources, but you will run into a myriad of problems.

DTOs i.e. projections onto the JPA entities are the way to go. It would allow you to separate the resource representation concerns of REST from the transactional concerns of JPA. You get to explicitly define the nature of the representations. You can control the amount of data that appears in the representation, including the depth of the object graph to be traversed, if you design your DTOs/projections carefully. You may need to create multiple DTOs/projections for the same JPA entity for the different resources in which the entity may need to be represented differently.

Besides, in my experience using annotations like @JsonIgnore and @JsonIdentityInfo on JPA entities doesnt exactly lend to more usable resource representations. You may eventually run into trouble when merging the objects back into the persistence context (because of ignored properties), or your clients may be unable to consume the resource representations, since object references as a scheme may not be understood. Most JavaScript clients will usually have trouble consuming object references produced by the @JsonidentityInfo annotation, due to the lack of standardization here.

There are other additional aspects that would be possible through DTOs/projections. JPA @EmbeddedIds do not fit naturally into REST resource representations. Some advocate using the JAX-RS @MatrixParam annotation to identify the resource uniquely in the resource URIs, but this does not work out of the box for most clients. Matrix parameters are after all only a design note, and not a standard (yet). With a DTO/projection, you can serve out the resource representation against a computed Id (could be a combination of the constituent keys).

Note: I currently work on the JBoss Forge plugin for REST where some or all of these issues exist and would be fixed in some future release via the generation of DTOs.

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