POJO Web Services using Apache Axis2

Want a quick way to get a Web service up and running in no time? Then you should consider creating a Plain Old Java Object (POJO) that you can deploy using Apache Axis2 on Apache Tomcat. POJOs are fast to build and easy to maintain, which means you'll save a lot of time building and debugging your code. This document shows you how to take a simple POJO, and deploy it on Apache Tomcat as a Web service in the exploded directory format. You'll also learn how to take a POJO based on the Spring Framework, and deploy that as an AAR packaged Web service on Tomcat.



The task of building a Web service can sometimes be overwhelming, but not with POJOs! The old-school Plain Old Java Object is a simple and quick way to get most, if not all, of your currently existing Java classes up on the Web as readily accessible Web services. This document describes how to build a POJO-style Web service with Apache Axis2 and Tomcat. It is organized as follows:

  • The POJO: This is the Java class that you'll use throughout this document
  • POJO deployment
  • Test the POJO Web service using an RPC based client
  • Limitations of straight POJO
  • Spring-based POJO Web service and deployment

The code for the document can be found at Axis2_HOME/samples/pojoguide and Axis2_HOME/samples/pojoguidespring once you extract the Axis2 Standard Distribution. (It is better to get it now as it will help you to follow along.) Let's get started.


The POJO you'll be using throughout this document is a Weather service POJO that consists of two classes: WeatherService and Weather. Weather contains the Weather data: Temperature, forecast, rain (will it rain?), and howMuchRain (See Code Listing 1).

Code Listing 1: The Weather POJO

package sample.pojo.data;

public class Weather{
    float temperature;
    String forecast;
    boolean rain;
    float howMuchRain;
    public void setTemperature(float temp){
        temperature = temp;

    public float getTemperature(){
        return temperature;
    public void setForecast(String fore){
        forecast = fore;

    public String getForecast(){
        return forecast;
    public void setRain(boolean r){
        rain = r;

    public boolean getRain(){
        return rain;
    public void setHowMuchRain(float howMuch){
        howMuchRain = howMuch;

    public float getHowMuchRain(){
        return howMuchRain;

And here's the WeatherService class, shown in Code Listing 2.

Code Listing 2: The WeatherService class

package sample.pojo.service;

import sample.pojo.data.Weather;

public class WeatherService{
    Weather weather;
    public void setWeather(Weather weather){
        this.weather = weather;

    public Weather getWeather(){
        return this.weather;

Note that it's all just straight POJOs with field items and getter and setter methods for each field. Next, you'll take a look at what you need to do to make it ready for deployment on Apache Axis2 and Tomcat.

POJO Web Service Using Apache Axis2 and Tomcat

Got the POJOs? Great. This section will show you how to package them in the exploded directory format for easy deployment. First you'll look at the services.xml file that defines the Web service, and then you'll build the files using Apache Ant, and deploy the Web service on Tomcat.

Defining the Service: services.xml

Before Axis2 can understand what is going on, you have to tell it to use the services.xml file. Let's get right into it (see Code Listing 3).

Code Listing 3: The service definition file: services.xml

<service name="WeatherService" scope="application">
        Weather POJO Service
    <parameter name="ServiceClass">

The name of the service is specified as WeatherService and the scope of the service is application. As you can see in the WeatherService POJO, there are two methods: IN-ONLY method and IN-OUT method. Hence the messageReceiver elements are ordered within the messageReceivers tag. Lastly, the ServiceClass parameter specifies the class of the Web service, which is sample.pojo.service.WeatherService. When operations of your Web service get called, the methods of the WeatherService class will be called. Next let usl take a look at an easy method of building your application using Ant.

Building the POJO Web Service Using Apache Ant

Ant is a slick build tool. It helps reduce the time to build the applications, and several of the Axis2 command-line tools create the build.xml files for you. (We will not be going into too much detail on the build.xml file that you'll be using.)

Here are the main Ant tasks you'll be using:

  • generate.service -- This Ant task builds the service relevant source, and copies the files to build/WeatherService
  • rpc.client -- This task builds the client relevant files, builds a JAR at build/lib/rpc-client.jar, and then runs the client

Before you can build the source, you'll need to download the Axis2 1.8.2-bin and 1.8.2-war distributions from here. Then modify the following line inside the build.xml file (in the Axis2_HOME/samples/pojoguide directory in the extracted Axis2 1.8.2 Standard Binary (bin) Distribution) :

<property name="axis2.home" value="c:\apps\axis2" />

This modification contains the path to the root of the unzipped Axis2 1.8.2-bin download. With that explanation, you'll now build the source by typing the following: ant

The following directory format should now exist at build/WeatherService:

 - WeatherService
     - services.xml
   - sample
     - pojo
       - data
         - Weather.class
       - service
         - WeatherService.class

Simple isn't it? An excellent way to dive into Web services development.

Now get a Tomcat distribution (I used v5.5), and start it up by running bin/startup.bat or bin/startup.sh. Once it's running, deploy the Axis2 1.8.2-war by copying the axis2.war file to Tomcat's webapps directory. Tomcat will proceed by deploying axis2 and un-archiving it into the webapps directory. Now copy the WeatherService directory that was created at the time of building our project to: <tomcat-home>/webapps/axis2/WEB-INF/services.

The service should deploy quickly. You willl test the Web service using the RPCServiceClient in the next section.

Testing the POJO Web Service Using RPCServiceClient

OK, so the Web service should be running on Tomcat. Now you'll build a simple RPCServiceClient and test the POJO Web service. You'll first start out with the class constructs, creating the RPCServiceClient and initializing the values of the Weather class within the Web service (See Code Listing 4).

Code Listing 4: Setting the weather

package sample.pojo.rpcclient;

import javax.xml.namespace.QName;

import org.apache.axis2.AxisFault;
import org.apache.axis2.addressing.EndpointReference;
import org.apache.axis2.client.Options;
import org.apache.axis2.rpc.client.RPCServiceClient;

import sample.pojo.data.Weather;

public class WeatherRPCClient {

    public static void main(String[] args1) throws AxisFault {

        RPCServiceClient serviceClient = new RPCServiceClient();

        Options options = serviceClient.getOptions();

        EndpointReference targetEPR = new EndpointReference(

        // Setting the weather
        QName opSetWeather =
            new QName("http://service.pojo.sample/xsd", "setWeather");

        Weather w = new Weather();

        w.setForecast("Cloudy with showers");

        Object[] opSetWeatherArgs = new Object[] { w };

        serviceClient.invokeRobust(opSetWeather, opSetWeatherArgs);

The most interesting code to note is in bold font. Notice the targetEPR variable you create, setting the endpoint reference to http://localhost:8080/axis2/services/WeatherService. This is where you deployed it on Axis2. You can also verify this by asking Axis2 to list its services by going to the following URL: http://localhost:8080/axis2/services/listServices.

Next the opSetWeather variable gets setup, pointing to the setWeather operation. Then the Weather data is created and initialized. Lastly, you invoke the Web service, which initializes the weather data (you'll verify this soon). Next you get back the weather data (see Code Listing 5).

Code Listing 5: Getting the weather data

        serviceClient.invokeRobust(opSetWeather, opSetWeatherArgs);

        // Getting the weather
        QName opGetWeather =
            new QName("http://service.pojo.sample/xsd", "getWeather");

        Object[] opGetWeatherArgs = new Object[] { };
        Class[] returnTypes = new Class[] { Weather.class };
        Object[] response = serviceClient.invokeBlocking(opGetWeather,
                opGetWeatherArgs, returnTypes);
        Weather result = (Weather) response[0];
        if (result == null) {
            System.out.println("Weather didn't initialize!");

First you set the operation in opGetWeather to getWeather. Then you create an empty argument list. Note that this time you expect something back from the Web service, and so you create a list of return types. Then you invoke the Web service using a blocking call and wait for the weather data to be returned to you, and you place it in the result variable. Lastly, you make sure it isn't null and that it was successfully initialized by the previous call to setWeather. Now display the data to verify it. (see Code Listing 6).

Code Listing 6: Displaying the data


        // Displaying the result
        System.out.println("Temperature               : " +
        System.out.println("Forecast                  : " +
        System.out.println("Rain                      : " +
        System.out.println("How much rain (in inches) : " +

You should receive the data shown in Code Listing 7.

Code Listing 7: Output from running the client

     [java] Temperature               : 39.3
     [java] Forecast                  : Cloudy with showers
     [java] Rain                      : true
     [java] How much rain (in inches) : 4.5

Excellent! You have a working POJO Web service! Next you'll quickly morph this one into a Spring based POJO.

Limitations and Strengths of POJO

We've covered the strengths of using POJO based Web services, but what about any limitations? One main limitation of POJO based Web services is the lack of initialization support (meaning that you have to go into your Web service and initialize the values before the Web service is completely useful). However, you'll soon see how to overcome that limitation with a Spring based POJO, which is covered next.

Spring-based POJO Web Service

Spring is a hot framework for J2EE and makes bean usage a breeze. You'll use it in this section to create a Spring based POJO Web service. For this section, you'll need the spring.jar from the latest 1.x Spring download.

Quick Introduction

If you take a look at the source code of this document in Axis2_HOME/samples/pojoguidespring (to see how the Spring based POJO Web service is coded), you can see that the Weather class didn't change at all and the WeatherService class only got its name changed to WeatherSpringService.

You'll also notice an applicationContext.xml file, which we'll cover later. It is used to setup the beans used in our Web service.

Now you might wonder what the SpringInit.java class is for. This service is necessary to initialize the Spring Framework's application context.

The client is pretty much the same, except you won't use it to initialize the Weather data in the Web service, since Spring does that for you using Inversion of Control (IoC), which is covered next.

The Service Definition: services.xml

Since the core POJOs didn't change, you move straight to the services.xml file. It's a bit longer this time because it instantiates two services in one file (see Code Listing 7).

Code Listing 7: Defining the services: services.xml

  <service name="SpringInit" 
      This web service initializes Spring.
    <parameter name="ServiceClass">
    <parameter name="ServiceTCCL">composite</parameter>
    <parameter name="load-on-startup">true</parameter>
    <operation name="springInit">
  <service name="WeatherSpringService">
      Weather Spring POJO Axis2 AAR deployment
    <parameter name="ServiceClass">
    <parameter name="ServiceObjectSupplier">
    <parameter name="SpringBeanName">
      <messageReceiver mep="http://www.w3.org/ns/wsdl/in-only"
      <messageReceiver mep="http://www.w3.org/ns/wsdl/in-out"

You'll see a few familiar items in the above listing, and several changes. Once again, the items in bold are most important. The ServiceTCCL property under the SpringInit service makes sure that the Spring class loader is used for the Web service, allowing it to properly instantiate the Spring application context. The load-on-startup variable is a must-have so that the service loads up immediately on startup, creating the Spring application context. The WeatherSpringService stays similar to the WeatherService previously with a couple of additions: The ServiceObjectSupplier provides the service with the Spring application context, making it "Spring Aware."

Lastly, the SpringBeanName points to the name of the bean associated with this Web service, which is defined in the applicationContext.xml file (essentially the WeatherSpringService). We'll cover the applicationContext.xml file next. The application context, applicationContext.xml file tells the Spring Framework what beans are defined. For this example, you'll define three of them (see Code Listing 8).

Code Listing 8: Defining the application context: applicationContext.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

  <bean id="applicationContext" class=
"org.apache.axis2.extensions.spring.receivers.ApplicationContextHolder" />

  <bean id="weatherSpringService" 
    <property name="weather" ref="weatherBean"/>

  <bean id="weatherBean" class="sample.spring.bean.Weather">
    <property name="temperature" value="89.9"/>
    <property name="forecast" value="Sunny"/>
    <property name="rain" value="false"/>
    <property name="howMuchRain" value="0.2"/>

The first one is Axis2's hook into Spring's application context (needed since AAR deployment is quite different from regular WAR deployment). Next, you define the bean to which the services.xml file points, which is the weatherSpringService bean that points to the WeatherSpringService class. It has one field property that gets initialized by the Spring Framework - weather. This will be set to the weatherBean. The weatherBean is an instantiation of the Weather class that holds information on the weather. Spring will initialize it to the values shown above, and set the Weather object in the WeatherSpringService class to the weatherBean instantiation. Thus, when you deploy the Web service, you won't have to instantiate the values because they'll already be set.

Next up is the SpringInit class.

Initializing the Spring Application Context: SpringInit

Without the Spring application context being initialized quickly, you'll run into problems. The SpringInit class initializes the Spring application context on startup because it is a ServiceLifeCycle class whose startUp method gets called upon loading the class (and because its load-on-startup property is set in the services.xml file). The only code worth mentioning in this class is shown in Code Listing 9.

Code Listing 9: SpringInit's startUp method

    public void startUp(ConfigurationContext ignore,
                        AxisService service) {
        ClassLoader classLoader = service.getClassLoader();
        ClassPathXmlApplicationContext appCtx = new
            ClassPathXmlApplicationContext(new String[]
        if (logger.isDebugEnabled()) {
            logger.debug("\n\nstartUp() set spring classloader " +
                         "via axisService.getClassLoader() ... ");

Note that this method retrieves the Spring class loader, and creates an application context with applicationContext.xml as the parameters. This new application context then gets the Spring class loader as its class loader. The Spring Framework is now up and ready for our WeatherSpringService.

Build and Deploy Using Apache Axis2 and Tomcat

Your POJO is now ready for primetime within the Spring Framework. Before you build, you'll first need to make sure the axis2-spring-1.8.2.jar and spring.jar files are in the project's Axis2_HOME/lib directory.

Note: The service will not deploy if you add the above .jar files to the service archive due to class loding issues.

Now build the source and create an AAR file by typing: ant

It'll be created at target/WeatherSpringService.aar. Copy it to <tomcat-home>/webapps/axis2/WEB-INF/services, and Axis2 should deploy it quickly.

Next, test the Web service to see whether Spring will really initialize the weather data for you.

Testing Using an RPCServiceClient

It's as simple as it was for the other Web service, except this time type: ant rpc.client

Feel free to browse the code for this client in src/client/WeatherSpringRPCClient.java. Essentially, this client does the same thing as the client testing the WeatherService. Except that this one skips the "Setting the weather" task since the weather data should have already been set by the Spring framework at startup.

Thus, you should get the following as output from the client:

    [javac] Compiling 1 source file to C:\axis2-1.8.2\samples\pojoguidespring\build\cl
     [java] Temperature               : 89.9
     [java] Forecast                  : Sunny
     [java] Rain                      : false
     [java] How much rain (in inches) : 0.2

Which are exactly the values you set in the applicationContext.xml file!

SR 181 Annotation support with POJO Web services

Got the JSR 181 annotated POJOs? Great. This section will show you how to package them in to a jar format for easy pojo deployment with the help of Axis2 POJO deployer. First create the JSR 181 Annotated class.

Sample JSR 181 POJO Web Service

For example lets assume that our JSR 181 Annotated class is.

@WebService(name="JSR181TestService" targetNamespace="http://www.test.org/jsr181/Example")
public class TestService {
    @WebMethod(operationName = "echoMethod")
    public String echoString(@WebParam(name="stringIn")String s){
        return s;

Compile this with the help of the Axis2 libs in to a jar file. Add one additional like to the axis2.xml to deploy jar files on the pojo directory

        Ex: <deployer extension=".jar" directory="pojo" class="org.apache.axis2.deployment.POJODeployer"/>

Create a pojo directory if its not already there under the Axis2 repository and put the JSR 181 Annotated jar inside that and start Axis2. You will see the service up and running !!


Apache Axis2 is an excellent way to expose your POJOs as Web services. Spring adds greater flexibility to your POJOs by adding beans support and initialization abilities, along with all the other goodies provided by the Spring framework.

For Further Study

Axis2 Architecture

Introduction to Apache Axis2-http://www.redhat.com/magazine/021jul06/features/apache_axis2/

Working With Apache Axis2

Apache Tomcat-http://tomcat.apache.org

Spring Framework-http://www.springframework.org/