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Using WsLite in practice

03 January 2013


There is a example working GitHub project which covers unit testing and request/response logging when using WsLite.

Why Groovy WsLite ?

I’m a huge fan of Groovy WsLite project for calling SOAP web services. Yes, in a real world you have to deal with those - big companies have huge amount of “legacy” code and are crazy about homogeneous architecture - only SOAP, Java, Oracle, AIX…

But I also never been comfortable with XFire/CXF approach of web service client code generation. I wrote a bit about other posibilites in this post. With JAXB you can also experience some freaky classloading errors - as Tomek described on his blog. In a large commercial project the “the less code the better” principle is significant. And the code generated from XSD could look kinda ugly - especially more complicated structures like sequences, choices, anys etc.

Using WsLite with native Groovy concepts like XmlSlurper could be a great choice. But since it’s a dynamic approach you have to be really careful - write good unit tests and log requests. Below are my few hints for using WsLite in practice.

Unit testing

Suppose you have some invocation of WsLite SOAPClient (original WsLite example):

def getMothersDay(long _year) {
    def response = client.send(SOAPAction: action) {
       body {
           GetMothersDay('xmlns':'http://www.27seconds.com/Holidays/US/Dates/') {

How can the unit test like? My suggestion is to mock SOAPClient and write a simple helper to test that builded XML is correct. Example using great SpockFramework:

void setup() {
   client = Mock(SOAPClient)
   service.client = client

def "should pass year to GetMothersDay and return date"() {
      def year = 2013
      def date = service.getMothersDay(year)
      1 * client.send(_, _) >> { Map params, Closure requestBuilder ->
            Document doc = buildAndParseXml(requestBuilder)
            assertXpathEvaluatesTo("$year", '//ns:GetMothersDay/ns:year', doc)
            return mockResponse(Responses.mothersDay)
      date == "2013-05-12T00:00:00"

This uses a real cool feature of Spock - even when you mock the invocation with “any mark” (_), you are able to get actual arguments. So we can build XML that would be passed to SOAPClient's send method and check that specific XPaths are correct:

void setup() {
    engine = XMLUnit.newXpathEngine()
    engine.setNamespaceContext(new SimpleNamespaceContext(namespaces()))

protected Document buildAndParseXml(Closure xmlBuilder) {
    def writer = new StringWriter()
    def builder = new MarkupBuilder(writer)
    return XMLUnit.buildControlDocument(writer.toString())

protected void assertXpathEvaluatesTo(String expectedValue,
                                      String xpathExpression, Document doc) throws XpathException {
            engine.evaluate(xpathExpression, doc))

protected Map namespaces() {
    return [ns: 'http://www.27seconds.com/Holidays/US/Dates/']

The XMLUnit library is used just for XpathEngine, but it is much more powerful for comparing XML documents. The NamespaceContext is needed to use correct prefixes (e.g. ns:GetMothersDay) in your Xpath expressions.

Finally - the mock returns SOAPResponse instance filled with envelope parsed from some constant XML:

protected SOAPResponse mockResponse(String resp) {
    def envelope = new XmlSlurper().parseText(resp)
    new SOAPResponse(envelope: envelope)

Request and response logging

The WsLite itself doesn’t use any logging framework. We usually handle it by adding own sendWithLogging method:

private SOAPResponse sendWithLogging(String action, Closure cl) {
    SOAPResponse response = client.send(SOAPAction: action, cl)
    log(response?.httpRequest, response?.httpResponse)
    return response

private void log(HTTPRequest request, HTTPResponse response) {
    log.debug("HTTPRequest $request with content:\n${request?.contentAsString}")
    log.debug("HTTPResponse $response with content:\n${response?.contentAsString}")

This logs the actual request and response send through SOAPClient. But it logs only when invocation is successful and errors are much more interesting… So here goes withExceptionHandler method:

private SOAPResponse withExceptionHandler(Closure cl) {
    try {
    } catch (SOAPFaultException soapEx) {
        log(soapEx.httpRequest, soapEx.httpResponse)
        def message = soapEx.hasFault() ? soapEx.fault.text() : soapEx.message
        throw new InfrastructureException(message)
    } catch (HTTPClientException httpEx) {
        log(httpEx.request, httpEx.response)
        throw new InfrastructureException(httpEx.message)
def send(String action, Closure cl) {
    withExceptionHandler {
        sendWithLogging(action, cl)

XmlSlurper gotchas

Working with XML document with XmlSlurper is generally great fun, but is some cases could introduce some problems. A trivial example is parsing an id with a number to Long value:

def id = Long.valueOf(edit.'@id' as String)

The Attribute class (which edit.'@id' evaluates to) can be converted to String using as operator, but converting to Long requires using valueOf.

The second example is a bit more complicated. Consider following XML fragment:

<edit id="3">
      <param value="label1" name="label"/>
      <param value="2" name="param2"/>
<edit id="6">
      <param value="label2" name="label"/>
      <param value="2" name="param2"/>

We want to find id of edit whose label is label1. The simplest solution seems to be:

def param = doc.edit.params.param.find { it['@value'] == 'label1' }
def edit = params.parent().parent()

But it doesn’t work! The parent method returns multiple edits, not only the one that is parent of given param

Here’s the correct solution:

doc.edit.find { edit ->
    edit.params.param.find { it['@value'] == 'label1' }


The example working project covering those hints could be found on GitHub.

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