Chapter 5. Configuring a Step

As discussed in Batch Domain Language, a Step is a domain object that encapsulates an independent, sequential phase of a batch job and contains all of the information necessary to define and control the actual batch processing. This is a necessarily vague description because the contents of any given Step are at the discretion of the developer writing a Job. A Step can be as simple or complex as the developer desires. A simple Step might load data from a file into the database, requiring little or no code. (depending upon the implementations used) A more complex Step may have complicated business rules that are applied as part of the processing.

5.1. Chunk-Oriented Processing

Spring Batch uses a 'Chunk Oriented' processing style within its most common implementation. Chunk oriented processing refers to reading the data one at a time, and creating 'chunks' that will be written out, within a transaction boundary. One item is read in from an ItemReader, handed to an ItemProcessor, and aggregated. Once the number of items read equals the commit interval, the entire chunk is written out via the ItemWriter, and then the transaction is committed.

Below is a code representation of the same concepts shown above:

List items = new Arraylist();
for(int i = 0; i < commitInterval; i++){
    Object item = itemReader.read()
    Object processedItem = itemProcessor.process(item);
    items.add(processedItem);
}
itemWriter.write(items);

5.1.1. Configuring a Step

Despite the relatively short list of required dependencies for a Step, it is an extremely complex class that can potentially contain many collaborators. In order to ease configuration, the Spring Batch namespace can be used:

<job id="sampleJob" job-repository="jobRepository">
    <step id="step1">
        <tasklet transaction-manager="transactionManager">
            <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="10"/>
        </tasklet>
    </step>
</job>

The configuration above represents the only required dependencies to create a item-oriented step:

  • reader - The ItemReader that provides items for processing.

  • writer - The ItemWriter that processes the items provided by the ItemReader.

  • transaction-manager - Spring's PlatformTransactionManager that will be used to begin and commit transactions during processing.

  • job-repository - The JobRepository that will be used to periodically store the StepExecution and ExecutionContext during processing (just before committing). For an in-line <step/> (one defined within a <job/>) it is an attribute on the <job/> element; for a standalone step, it is defined as an attribute of the <tasklet/>.

  • commit-interval - The number of items that will be processed before the transaction is committed.

It should be noted that, job-repository defaults to "jobRepository" and transaction-manager defaults to "transactionManger". Furthermore, the ItemProcessor is optional, not required, since the item could be directly passed from the reader to the writer.

5.1.2. Inheriting from a Parent Step

If a group of Steps share similar configurations, then it may be helpful to define a "parent" Step from which the concrete Steps may inherit properties. Similar to class inheritance in Java, the "child" Step will combine its elements and attributes with the parent's. The child will also override any of the parent's Steps.

In the following example, the Step "concreteStep1" will inherit from "parentStep". It will be instantiated with 'itemReader', 'itemProcessor', 'itemWriter', startLimit=5, and allowStartIfComplete=true. Additionally, the commitInterval will be '5' since it is overridden by the "concreteStep1":

<step id="parentStep">
    <tasklet allow-start-if-complete="true">
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="10"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

<step id="concreteStep1" parent="parentStep">
    <tasklet start-limit="5">
        <chunk processor="itemProcessor" commit-interval="5"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

The id attribute is still required on the step within the job element. This is for two reasons:

  1. The id will be used as the step name when persisting the StepExecution. If the same standalone step is referenced in more than one step in the job, an error will occur.

  2. When creating job flows, as described later in this chapter, the next attribute should be referring to the step in the flow, not the standalone step.

5.1.2.1. Abstract Step

Sometimes it may be necessary to define a parent Step that is not a complete Step configuration. If, for instance, the reader, writer, and tasklet attributes are left off of a Step configuration, then initialization will fail. If a parent must be defined without these properties, then the "abstract" attribute should be used. An "abstract" Step will not be instantiated; it is used only for extending.

In the following example, the Step "abstractParentStep" would not instantiate if it were not declared to be abstract. The Step "concreteStep2" will have 'itemReader', 'itemWriter', and commitInterval=10.

<step id="abstractParentStep" abstract="true">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk commit-interval="10"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

<step id="concreteStep2" parent="abstractParentStep">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

5.1.2.2. Merging Lists

Some of the configurable elements on Steps are lists; the <listeners/> element, for instance. If both the parent and child Steps declare a <listeners/> element, then the child's list will override the parent's. In order to allow a child to add additional listeners to the list defined by the parent, every list element has a "merge" attribute. If the element specifies that merge="true", then the child's list will be combined with the parent's instead of overriding it.

In the following example, the Step "concreteStep3" will be created will two listeners: listenerOne and listenerTwo:

<step id="listenersParentStep" abstract="true">
    <listeners>
        <listener ref="listenerOne"/>
    <listeners>
</step>

<step id="concreteStep3" parent="listenersParentStep">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="5"/>
    </tasklet>
    <listeners merge="true">
        <listener ref="listenerTwo"/>
    <listeners>
</step>

5.1.3. The Commit Interval

As mentioned above, a step reads in and writes out items, periodically committing using the supplied PlatformTransactionManager. With a commit-interval of 1, it will commit after writing each individual item. This is less than ideal in many situations, since beginning and committing a transaction is expensive. Ideally, it is preferable to process as many items as possible in each transaction, which is completely dependent upon the type of data being processed and the resources with which the step is interacting. For this reason, the number of items that are processed within a commit can be configured.

<job id="sampleJob">
    <step id="step1">
        <tasklet>
            <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="10"/>
        </tasklet>
    </step>
</job>

In the example above, 10 items will be processed within each transaction. At the beginning of processing a transaction is begun, and each time read is called on the ItemReader, a counter is incremented. When it reaches 10, the list of aggregated items is passed to the ItemWriter, and the transaction will be committed.

5.1.4. Configuring a Step for Restart

In Chapter 4, Configuring and Running a Job, restarting a Job was discussed. Restart has numerous impacts on steps, and as such may require some specific configuration.

5.1.4.1. Setting a StartLimit

There are many scenarios where you may want to control the number of times a Step may be started. For example, a particular Step might need to be configured so that it only runs once because it invalidates some resource that must be fixed manually before it can be run again. This is configurable on the step level, since different steps may have different requirements. A Step that may only be executed once can exist as part of the same Job as a Step that can be run infinitely. Below is an example start limit configuration:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet start-limit="1">
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="10"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

The simple step above can be run only once. Attempting to run it again will cause an exception to be thrown. It should be noted that the default value for the start-limit is Integer.MAX_VALUE.

5.1.4.2. Restarting a completed step

In the case of a restartable job, there may be one or more steps that should always be run, regardless of whether or not they were successful the first time. An example might be a validation step, or a Step that cleans up resources before processing. During normal processing of a restarted job, any step with a status of 'COMPLETED', meaning it has already been completed successfully, will be skipped. Setting allow-start-if-complete to "true" overrides this so that the step will always run:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet allow-start-if-complete="true">
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="10"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

5.1.4.3. Step Restart Configuration Example

<job id="footballJob" restartable="true">
    <step id="playerload" next="gameLoad">
        <tasklet>
            <chunk reader="playerFileItemReader" writer="playerWriter"
                   commit-interval="10" />
        </tasklet>
    </step>
    <step id="gameLoad" next="playerSummarization">
        <tasklet allow-start-if-complete="true">
            <chunk reader="gameFileItemReader" writer="gameWriter"
                   commit-interval="10"/>
        </tasklet>
    </step>
    <step id="playerSummarization">
        <tasklet start-limit="3">
            <chunk reader="playerSummarizationSource" writer="summaryWriter"
                   commit-interval="10"/>
        </tasklet>
    </step>
</job>

The above example configuration is for a job that loads in information about football games and summarizes them. It contains three steps: playerLoad, gameLoad, and playerSummarization. The playerLoad Step loads player information from a flat file, while the gameLoad Step does the same for games. The final Step, playerSummarization, then summarizes the statistics for each player based upon the provided games. It is assumed that the file loaded by 'playerLoad' must be loaded only once, but that 'gameLoad' will load any games found within a particular directory, deleting them after they have been successfully loaded into the database. As a result, the playerLoad Step contains no additional configuration. It can be started almost limitlessly, and if complete will be skipped. The 'gameLoad' Step, however, needs to be run every time in case extra files have been dropped since it last executed. It has 'allow-start-if-complete' set to 'true' in order to always be started. (It is assumed that the database tables games are loaded into has a process indicator on it, to ensure new games can be properly found by the summarization step). The summarization Step, which is the most important in the Job, is configured to have a start limit of 3. This is useful because if the step continually fails, a new exit code will be returned to the operators that control job execution, and it won't be allowed to start again until manual intervention has taken place.

Note

This job is purely for example purposes and is not the same as the footballJob found in the samples project.

Run 1:

  1. playerLoad is executed and completes successfully, adding 400 players to the 'PLAYERS' table.

  2. gameLoad is executed and processes 11 files worth of game data, loading their contents into the 'GAMES' table.

  3. playerSummarization begins processing and fails after 5 minutes.

Run 2:

  1. playerLoad is not run, since it has already completed successfully, and allow-start-if-complete is 'false' (the default).

  2. gameLoad is executed again and processes another 2 files, loading their contents into the 'GAMES' table as well (with a process indicator indicating they have yet to be processed)

  3. playerSummarization begins processing of all remaining game data (filtering using the process indicator) and fails again after 30 minutes.

Run 3:

  1. playerLoad is not run, since it has already completed successfully, and allow-start-if-complete is 'false' (the default).

  2. gameLoad is executed again and processes another 2 files, loading their contents into the 'GAMES' table as well (with a process indicator indicating they have yet to be processed)

  3. playerSummarization is not start, and the job is immediately killed, since this is the third execution of playerSummarization, and its limit is only 2. The limit must either be raised, or the Job must be executed as a new JobInstance.

5.1.5. Configuring Skip Logic

There are many scenarios where errors encountered while processing should not result in Step failure, but should be skipped instead. This is usually a decision that must be made by someone who understands the data itself and what meaning it has. Financial data, for example, may not be skippable because it results in money being transferred, which needs to be completely accurate. Loading a list of vendors, on the other hand, might allow for skips. If a vendor is not loaded because it was formatted incorrectly or was missing necessary information, then there probably won't be issues. Usually these bad records are logged as well, which will be covered later when discussing listeners.

<step id="step1">
   <tasklet>
      <chunk reader="flatFileItemReader" writer="itemWriter"
             commit-interval="10" skip-limit="10">
         <skippable-exception-classes>
            <include class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileParseException"/>
         </skippable-exception-classes>
      </chunk>
   </tasklet>
</step>

In this example, a FlatFileItemReader is used, and if at any point a FlatFileParseException is thrown, it will be skipped and counted against the total skip limit of 10. Separate counts are made of skips on read, process and write inside the step execution, and the limit applies across all. Once the skip limit is reached, the next exception found will cause the step to fail.

One problem with the example above is that any other exception besides a FlatFileParseException will cause the Job to fail. In certain scenarios this may be the correct behavior. However, in other scenarios it may be easier to identify which exceptions should cause failure and skip everything else:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="flatFileItemReader" writer="itemWriter"
               commit-interval="10" skip-limit="10">
            <skippable-exception-classes>
                <include class="java.lang.Exception"/>
                <exclude class="java.io.FileNotFoundException"/>
            </skippable-exception-classes>
        </chunk>
    </tasklet>
</step>

By 'including' java.lang.Exception as a skippable exception class, the configuration indicates that all Exceptions are skippable. However, by 'excluding' java.io.FileNotFoundException, the configuration refines the list of skippable exception classes to be all Exceptions except FileNotFoundException. Any excluded exception classes will be fatal if encountered (i.e. not skipped).

For any exception encountered, the skippability will be determined by the nearest superclass in the class hierarchy. Any unclassifed exception will be treated as 'fatal'. The order of the <include/> and <exclude/> elements does not matter.

5.1.6. Configuring Retry Logic

In most cases you want an exception to cause either a skip or Step failure. However, not all exceptions are deterministic. If a FlatFileParseException is encountered while reading, it will always be thrown for that record; resetting the ItemReader will not help. However, for other exceptions, such as a DeadlockLoserDataAccessException, which indicates that the current process has attempted to update a record that another process holds a lock on, waiting and trying again might result in success. In this case, retry should be configured:

<step id="step1">
   <tasklet>
      <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter"
             commit-interval="2" retry-limit="3">
         <retryable-exception-classes>
            <include class="org.springframework.dao.DeadlockLoserDataAccessException"/>
         </retryable-exception-classes>
      </chunk>
   </tasklet>
</step>

The Step allows a limit for the number of times an individual item can be retried, and a list of exceptions that are 'retryable'. More details on how retry works can be found in Chapter 9, Retry.

5.1.7. Controlling Rollback

By default, regardless of retry or skip, any exceptions thrown from the ItemWriter will cause the transaction controlled by the Step to rollback. If skip is configured as described above, exceptions thrown from the ItemReader will not cause a rollback. However, there are many scenarios in which exceptions thrown from the ItemWriter should not cause a rollback because no action has taken place to invalidate the transaction. For this reason, the Step can be configured with a list of exceptions that should not cause rollback.

<step id="step1">
   <tasklet>
      <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="2"/>
      <no-rollback-exception-classes>
         <include class="org.springframework.batch.item.validator.ValidationException"/>
      </no-rollback-exception-classes>
   </tasklet>
</step>

5.1.7.1. Transactional Readers

The basic contract of the ItemReader is that it is forward only. The step buffers reader input, so that in the case of a rollback the items don't need to be re-read from the reader. However, there are certain scenarios in which the reader is built on top of a transactional resource, such as a JMS queue. In this case, since the queue is tied to the transaction that is rolled back, the messages that have been pulled from the queue will be put back on. For this reason, the step can be configured to not buffer the items:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="2"
               is-reader-transactional-queue="true"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

5.1.8. Transaction Attributes

Transaction attributes can be used to control the isolation, propagation, and timeout settings. More information on setting transaction attributes can be found in the spring core documentation.

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="itemWriter" commit-interval="2"/>
        <transaction-attributes isolation="DEFAULT"
                                propagation="REQUIRED"
                                timeout="30"/>
    </tasklet>
</step>

5.1.9. Registering ItemStreams with the Step

The step has to take care of ItemStream callbacks at the necessary points in its lifecycle. (for more information on the ItemStream interface, please refer to Section 6.4, “ItemStream”) This is vital if a step fails, and might need to be restarted, because the ItemStream interface is where the step gets the information it needs about persistent state between executions.

If the ItemReader, ItemProcessor, or ItemWriter itself implements the ItemStream interface, then these will be registered automatically. Any other streams need to be registered separately. This is often the case where there are indirect dependencies such as delegates being injected into the reader and writer. A stream can be registered on the Step through the 'streams' element, as illustrated below:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="itemReader" writer="compositeWriter" commit-interval="2">
            <streams>
                <stream ref="fileItemWriter1"/>
                <stream ref="fileItemWriter2"/>
            </streams>
        </chunk>
    </tasklet>
</step>

<beans:bean id="compositeWriter"
            class="org.springframework.batch.item.support.CompositeItemWriter">
    <beans:property name="delegates">
        <beans:list>
            <beans:ref bean="fileItemWriter1" />
            <beans:ref bean="fileItemWriter2" />
        </beans:list>
    </beans:property>
</beans:bean>

In the example above, the CompositeItemWriter is not an ItemStream, but both of its delegates are. Therefore, both delegate writers must be explicitly registered as streams in order for the framework to handle them correctly. The ItemReader does not need to be explicitly registered as a stream because it is a direct property of the Step. The step will now be restartable and the state of the reader and writer will be correctly persisted in the event of a failure.

5.1.10. Intercepting Step Execution

Just as with the Job, there are many events during the execution of a Step where a user may need to perform some functionality. For example, in order to write out to a flat file that requires a footer, the ItemWriter needs to be notified when the Step has been completed, so that the footer can written. This can be accomplished with one of many Step scoped listeners.

Any class that implements one of the extensions of StepListener (but not that interface itself since it is empty) can be applied to a step via the listeners element. The listeners element is valid inside a step, tasklet or chunk declaration. It is recommended that you declare the listeners at the level which its function applies, or if it is multi-featured (e.g. StepExecutionListener and ItemReadListener) then declare it at the most granular level that it applies (chunk in the example given).

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet>
        <chunk reader="reader" writer="writer" commit-interval="10"/>
        <listeners>
            <listener ref="chunkListener"/>
        </listeners>
    </tasklet>
</step>

An ItemReader, ItemWriter or ItemProcessor that itself implements one of the StepListener interfaces will be registered automatically with the Step if using the namespace <step> element, or one of the the *StepFactoryBean factories. This only applies to components directly injected into the Step: if the listener is nested inside another component, it needs to be explicitly registered (as described above).

In addition to the StepListener interfaces, annotations are provided to address the same concerns. Plain old Java objects can have methods with these annotations that are then converted into the corresponding StepListener type. It is also common to annotate custom implementations of chunk components like ItemReader or ItemWriter or Tasklet. The annotations are analysed by the XML parser for the <listener/> elements, so all you need to do is use the XML namespace to register the listeners with a step.

5.1.10.1. StepExecutionListener

StepExecutionListener represents the most generic listener for Step execution. It allows for notification before a Step is started and after it has ends, whether it ended normally or failed:

public interface StepExecutionListener extends StepListener {

    void beforeStep(StepExecution stepExecution);

    ExitStatus afterStep(StepExecution stepExecution);

}

ExitStatus is the return type of afterStep in order to allow listeners the chance to modify the exit code that is returned upon completion of a Step.

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @BeforeStep

  • @AfterStep

5.1.10.2. ChunkListener

A chunk is defined as the items processed within the scope of a transaction. Committing a transaction, at each commit interval, commits a 'chunk'. A ChunkListener can be useful to perform logic before a chunk begins processing or after a chunk has completed successfully:

public interface ChunkListener extends StepListener {

    void beforeChunk();

    void afterChunk();

}

The beforeChunk method is called after the transaction is started, but before read is called on the ItemReader. Conversely, afterChunk is called after the chunk has been committed (and not at all if there is a rollback).

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @BeforeChunk

  • @AfterChunk

A ChunkListener can be applied when there is no chunk declaration: it is the TaskletStep that is responsible for calling the ChunkListener so it applies to a non-item-oriented tasklet as well (called before and after the tasklet).

5.1.10.3. ItemReadListener

When discussing skip logic above, it was mentioned that it may be beneficial to log the skipped records, so that they can be deal with later. In the case of read errors, this can be done with an ItemReaderListener:

public interface ItemReadListener<T> extends StepListener {

    void beforeRead();

    void afterRead(T item);

    void onReadError(Exception ex);

}

The beforeRead method will be called before each call to read on the ItemReader. The afterRead method will be called after each successful call to read, and will be passed the item that was read. If there was an error while reading, the onReadError method will be called. The exception encountered will be provided so that it can be logged.

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @BeforeRead

  • @AfterRead

  • @OnReadError

5.1.10.4. ItemProcessListener

Just as with the ItemReadListener, the processing of an item can be 'listened' to:

public interface ItemProcessListener<T, S> extends StepListener {

    void beforeProcess(T item);

    void afterProcess(T item, S result);

    void onProcessError(T item, Exception e);

}

The beforeProcess method will be called before process on the ItemProcessor, and is handed the item that will be processed. The afterProcess method will be called after the item has been successfully processed. If there was an error while processing, the onProcessError method will be called. The exception encountered and the item that was attempted to be processed will be provided, so that they can be logged.

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @BeforeProcess

  • @AfterProcess

  • @OnProcessError

5.1.10.5. ItemWriteListener

The writing of an item can be 'listened' to with the ItemWriteListener:

  public interface ItemWriteListener<S> extends StepListener {

    void beforeWrite(List<? extends S> items);

    void afterWrite(List<? extends S> items);

    void onWriteError(Exception exception, List<? extends S> items);

}

The beforeWrite method will be called before write on the ItemWriter, and is handed the item that will be written. The afterWrite method will be called after the item has been successfully written. If there was an error while writing, the onWriteError method will be called. The exception encountered and the item that was attempted to be written will be provided, so that they can be logged.

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @BeforeWrite

  • @AfterWrite

  • @OnWriteError

5.1.10.6. SkipListener

ItemReadListener, ItemProcessListener, and ItemWriteListner all provide mechanisms for being notified of errors, but none will inform you that a record has actually been skipped. onWriteError, for example, will be called even if an item is retried and successful. For this reason, there is a separate interface for tracking skipped items:

  public interface SkipListener<T,S> extends StepListener {

    void onSkipInRead(Throwable t);

    void onSkipInProcess(T item, Throwable t);

    void onSkipInWrite(S item, Throwable t);

}

onSkipInRead will be called whenever an item is skipped while reading. It should be noted that rollbacks may cause the same item to be registered as skipped more than once. onSkipInWrite will be called when an item is skipped while writing. Because the item has been read successfully (and not skipped), it is also provided the item itself as an argument.

The annotations corresponding to this interface are:

  • @OnSkipInRead

  • @OnSkipInWrite

  • @OnSkipInProcess

5.1.10.6.1. SkipListeners and Transactions

One of the most common use cases for a SkipListener is to log out a skipped item, so that another batch process or even human process can be used to evaluate and fix the issue leading to the skip. Because there are many cases in which the original transaction may be rolled back, Spring Batch makes two guarantees:

  1. The appropriate skip method (depending on when the error happened) will only be called once per item.

  2. The SkipListener will always be called just before the transaction is committed. This is to ensure that any transactional resources call by the listener are not rolled back by a failure within the ItemWriter.

5.2. TaskletStep

Chunk-oriented processing is not the only way to process in a Step. What if a Step must consist as a simple stored procedure call? You could implement the call as an ItemReader and return null after the procedure finishes, but it is a bit unnatural since there would need to be a no-op ItemWriter. Spring Batch provides the TaskletStep for this scenario.

The Tasklet is a simple interface that has one method, execute, which will be a called repeatedly by the TaskletStep until it either returns RepeatStatus.FINISHED or throws an exception to signal a failure. Each call to the Tasklet is wrapped in a transaction. Tasklet implementors might call a stored procedure, a script, or a simple SQL update statement. To create a TaskletStep, the 'ref' attribute of the <tasklet/> element should reference a bean defining a Tasklet object; no <chunk/> element should be used within the <tasklet/>:

<step id="step1">
    <tasklet ref="myTasklet"/>
</step>

Note

TaskletStep will automatically register the tasklet as StepListener if it implements this interface

5.2.1. TaskletAdapter

As with other adapters for the ItemReader and ItemWriter interfaces, the Tasklet interface contains an implementation that allows for adapting itself to any pre-existing class: TaskletAdapter. An example where this may be useful is an existing DAO that is used to update a flag on a set of records. The TaskletAdapter can be used to call this class without having to write an adapter for the Tasklet interface:

<bean id="myTasklet" class="org.springframework.batch.core.step.tasklet.MethodInvokingTaskletAdapter">
    <property name="targetObject">
        <bean class="org.mycompany.FooDao"/>
    </property>
    <property name="targetMethod" value="updateFoo" />
</bean>

5.2.2. Example Tasklet Implementation

Many batch jobs contain steps that must be done before the main processing begins in order to set up various resources or after processing has completed to cleanup those resources. In the case of a job that works heavily with files, it is often necessary to delete certain files locally after they have been uploaded successfully to another location. The example below taken from the Spring Batch samples project, is a Tasklet implementation with just such a responsibility:

public class FileDeletingTasklet implements Tasklet, InitializingBean {

    private Resource directory;

    public RepeatStatus execute(StepContribution contribution,
                                ChunkContext chunkContext) throws Exception {
        File dir = directory.getFile();
        Assert.state(dir.isDirectory());

        File[] files = dir.listFiles();
        for (int i = 0; i < files.length; i++) {
            boolean deleted = files[i].delete();
            if (!deleted) {
                throw new UnexpectedJobExecutionException("Could not delete file " +
                                                          files[i].getPath());
            }
        }
        return RepeatStatus.FINISHED;
    }

    public void setDirectoryResource(Resource directory) {
        this.directory = directory;
    }

    public void afterPropertiesSet() throws Exception {
        Assert.notNull(directory, "directory must be set");
    }
}

The above Tasklet implementation will delete all files within a given directory. It should be noted that the execute method will only be called once. All that is left is to reference the Tasklet from the Step:

<job id="taskletJob">
    <step id="deleteFilesInDir">
       <tasklet ref="fileDeletingTasklet"/>
    </step>
</job>

<beans:bean id="fileDeletingTasklet"
            class="org.springframework.batch.sample.tasklet.FileDeletingTasklet">
    <beans:property name="directoryResource">
        <beans:bean id="directory"
                    class="org.springframework.core.io.FileSystemResource">
            <beans:constructor-arg value="target/test-outputs/test-dir" />
        </beans:bean>
    </beans:property>
</beans:bean>

5.3. Controlling Step Flow

With the ability to group steps together within an owning job comes the need to be able to control how the job 'flows' from one step to another. The failure of a Step doesn't necessarily mean that the Job should fail. Furthermore, there may be more than one type of 'success' which determines which Step should be executed next. Depending upon how a group of Steps is configured, certain steps may not even be processed at all.

5.3.1. Sequential Flow

The simplest flow scenario is a job where all of the steps execute sequentially:

This can be achieved using the 'next' attribute of the step element:

<job id="job">
    <step id="stepA" parent="s1" next="stepB" />
    <step id="stepB" parent="s2" next="stepC"/>
    <step id="stepC" parent="s3" />
</job>

In the scenario above, 'step A' will execute first because it is the first Step listed. If 'step A' completes normally, then 'step B' will execute, and so on. However, if 'step A' fails, then the entire Job will fail and 'step B' will not execute.

Note

With the Spring Batch namespace, the first step listed in the configuration will always be the first step executed by the Job. The order of the other step elements does not matter, but the first step must always appear first in the xml.

5.3.2. Conditional Flow

In the example above, there are only two possibilities:

  1. The Step is successful and the next Step should be executed.

  2. The Step failed and thus the Job should fail.

In many cases, this may be sufficient. However, what about a scenario in which the failure of a Step should trigger a different Step, rather than causing failure?

In order to handle more complex scenarios, the Spring Batch namespace allows transition elements to be defined within the step element. One such transition is the "next" element. Like the "next" attribute, the "next" element will tell the Job which Step to execute next. However, unlike the attribute, any number of "next" elements are allowed on a given Step, and there is no default behavior the case of failure. This means that if transition elements are used, then all of the behavior for the Step's transitions must be defined explicitly. Note also that a single step cannot have both a "next" attribute and a transition element.

The next element specifies a pattern to match and the step to execute next:

<job id="job">
    <step id="stepA" parent="s1">
        <next on="*" to="stepB" />
        <next on="FAILED" to="stepC" />
    </step>
    <step id="stepB" parent="s2" next="stepC" />
    <step id="stepC" parent="s3" />
</job>

The "on" attribute of a transition element uses a simple pattern-matching scheme to match the ExitStatus that results from the execution of the Step. Only two special characters are allowed in the pattern:

  • "*" will zero or more characters

  • "?" will match exactly one character

For example, "c*t" will match "cat" and "count", while "c?t" will match "cat" but not "count".

While there is no limit to the number of transition elements on a Step, if the Step's execution results in an ExitStatus that is not covered by an element, then the framework will throw an exception and the Job will fail. The framework will automatically order transitions from most specific to least specific. This means that even if the elements were swapped for "stepA" in the example above, an ExitStatus of "FAILED" would still go to "stepC".

5.3.2.1. Batch Status vs. Exit Status

When configuring a Job for conditional flow, it is important to understand the difference between BatchStatus and ExitStatus. BatchStatus is an enumeration that is a property of both JobExecution and StepExecution and is used by the framework to record the status of a Job or Step. It can be one of the following values: COMPLETED, STARTING, STARTED, STOPPING, STOPPED, FAILED, ABANDONED or UNKNOWN. Most of them are self explanatory: COMPLETED is the status set when a step or job has completed successfully, FAILED is set when it fails, and so on. The example above contains the following 'next' element:

<next on="FAILED" to="stepB" />

At first glance, it would appear that the 'on' attribute references the BatchStatus of the Step to which it belongs. However, it actually references the ExitStatus of the Step. As the name implies, ExitStatus represents the status of a Step after it finishes execution. More specifically, the 'next' element above references the exit code of the ExitStatus. To write it in English, it says: "go to stepB if the exit code is FAILED". By default, the exit code is always the same as the BatchStatus for the Step, which is why the entry above works. However, what if the exit code needs to be different? A good example comes from the skip sample job within the samples project:

<step id="step1" parent="s1">
    <end on="FAILED" />
    <next on="COMPLETED WITH SKIPS" to="errorPrint1" />
    <next on="*" to="step2" />
</step>

The above step has three possibilities:

  1. The Step failed, in which case the job should fail.

  2. The Step completed successfully.

  3. The Step completed successfully, but with an exit code of 'COMPLETED WITH SKIPS'. In this case, a different step should be run to handle the errors.

The above configuration will work. However, something needs to change the exit code based on the condition of the execution having skipped records:

public class SkipCheckingListener extends StepExecutionListenerSupport {

    public ExitStatus afterStep(StepExecution stepExecution) {
        String exitCode = stepExecution.getExitStatus().getExitCode();
        if (!exitCode.equals(ExitStatus.FAILED.getExitCode()) &&
              stepExecution.getSkipCount() > 0) {
            return new ExitStatus("COMPLETED WITH SKIPS");
        }
        else {
            return null;
        }
    }

}

The above code is a StepExecutionListener that first checks to make sure the Step was successful, and next if the skip count on the StepExecution is higher than 0. If both conditions are met, a new ExitStatus with an exit code of "COMPLETED WITH SKIPS" is returned.

5.3.3. Configuring for Stop

After the discussion of BatchStatus and ExitStatus, one might wonder how the BatchStatus and ExitStatus are determined for the Job. While these statuses are determined for the Step by the code that is executed, the statuses for the Job will be determined based on the configuration.

So far, all of the job configurations discussed have had at least one final Step with no transitions. For example, after the following step executes, the Job will end:

<step id="stepC" parent="s3"/>

If no transitions are defined for a Step, then the Job's statuses will be defined as follows:

  • If the Step ends with ExitStatus FAILED, then the Job's BatchStatus and ExitStatus will both be FAILED.

  • Otherwise, the Job's BatchStatus and ExitStatus will both be COMPLETED.

While this method of terminating a batch job is sufficient for some batch jobs, such as a simple sequential step job, custom defined job-stopping scenarios may be required. For this purpose, Spring Batch provides three transition elements to stop a Job (in addition to the "next" element that we discussed previously). Each of these stopping elements will stop a Job with a particular BatchStatus. It is important to note that the stop transition elements will have no effect on either the BatchStatus or ExitStatus of any Steps in the Job: these elements will only affect the final statuses of the Job. For example, it is possible for every step in a job to have a status of FAILED but the job to have a status of COMPLETED, or vise versa.

5.3.3.1. The 'End' Element

The 'end' element instructs a Job to stop with a BatchStatus of COMPLETED. A Job that has finished with status COMPLETED cannot be restarted (the framework will throw a JobInstanceAlreadyCompleteException). The 'end' element also allows for an optional 'exit-code' attribute that can be used to customize the ExitStatus of the Job. If no 'exit-code' attribute is given, then the ExitStatus will be "COMPLETED" by default, to match the BatchStatus.

In the following scenario, if step2 fails, then the Job will stop with a BatchStatus of COMPLETED and an ExitStatus of "COMPLETED" and step3 will not execute; otherwise, execution will move to step3. Note that if step2 fails, the Job will not be restartable (because the status is COMPLETED).

<step id="step1" parent="s1" next="step2">

<step id="step2" parent="s2">
    <end on="FAILED"/>
    <next on="*" to="step3"/>
</step>

<step id="step3" parent="s3">

5.3.3.2. The 'Fail' Element

The 'fail' element instructs a Job to stop with a BatchStatus of FAILED. Unlike the 'end' element, the 'fail' element will not prevent the Job from being restarted. The 'fail' element also allows for an optional 'exit-code' attribute that can be used to customize the ExitStatus of the Job. If no 'exit-code' attribute is given, then the ExitStatus will be "FAILED" by default, to match the BatchStatus.

In the following scenario, if step2 fails, then the Job will stop with a BatchStatus of FAILED and an ExitStatus of "EARLY TERMINATION" and step3 will not execute; otherwise, execution will move to step3. Additionally, if step2 fails, and the Job is restarted, then execution will begin again on step2.

<step id="step1" parent="s1" next="step2">

<step id="step2" parent="s2">
    <fail on="FAILED" exit-code="EARLY TERMINATION"/>
    <next on="*" to="step3"/>
</step>

<step id="step3" parent="s3">

5.3.3.3. The 'Stop' Element

The 'stop' element instructs a Job to stop with a BatchStatus of STOPPED. Stopping a Job can provide a temporary break in processing so that the operator can take some action before restarting the Job. The 'stop' element requires a 'restart' attribute that specifies the step where execution should pick up when the Job is restarted.

In the following scenario, if step1 finishes with COMPLETE, then the job will then stop. Once it is restarted, execution will begin on step2.

<step id="step1" parent="s1">
    <stop on="COMPLETED" restart="step2"/>
</step>

<step id="step2" parent="s2"/>

5.3.4. Programmatic Flow Decisions

In some situations, more information than the ExitStatus may be required to decide which step to execute next. In this case, a JobExecutionDecider can be used to assist in the decision.

public class MyDecider implements JobExecutionDecider {
    public FlowExecutionStatus decide(JobExecution jobExecution, StepExecution stepExecution) {
        if (someCondition) {
            return "FAILED";
        }
        else {
            return "COMPLETED";
        }
    }
}

In the job configuration, a "decision" tag will specify the decider to use as well as all of the transitions.

<job id="job">
    <step id="step1" parent="s1" next="decision" />

    <decision id="decision" decider="decider">
        <next on="FAILED" to="step2" />
        <next on="COMPLETED" to="step3" />
    </decision>

    <step id="step2" parent="s2" next="step3"/>
    <step id="step3" parent="s3" />
</job>

<beans:bean id="decider" class="com.MyDecider"/>

5.3.5. Split Flows

Every scenario described so far has involved a Job that executes its Steps one at a time in a linear fashion. In addition to this typical style, the Spring Batch namespace also allows for a job to be configured with parallel flows using the 'split' element. As is seen below, the 'split' element contains one or more 'flow' elements, where entire separate flows can be defined. A 'split' element may also contain any of the previously discussed transition elements such as the 'next' attribute or the 'next', 'end', 'fail', or 'pause' elements.

<split id="split1" next="step4">
    <flow>
        <step id="step1" parent="s1" next="step2"/>
        <step id="step2" parent="s2"/>
    </flow>
    <flow>
        <step id="step3" parent="s3"/>
    </flow>
</split>
<step id="step4" parent="s4"/>

5.3.6. Externalizing Flow Definitions and Dependencies Between Jobs

Part of the flow in a job can be externalized as a separate bean definition, and then re-used. There are three ways to do this, and the first is to simply declare the flow as a reference to one defined elsewhere:

<job id="job">
    <flow id="job1.flow1" parent="flow1" next="step3"/>
    <step id="step3" parent="s3"/>
</job>

<flow id="flow1">
    <step id="step1" parent="s1" next="step2"/>
    <step id="step2" parent="s2"/>
</flow>

The effect of defining an external flow like this is simply to insert the steps from the external flow into the job as if they had been declared inline. In this way many jobs can refer to the same template flow and compose such templates into different logical flows. This is also a good way to separate the integration testing of the individual flows.

The second form of an externalized flow is to use a FlowStep. A FlowStep is an implementation of the Step interface that delegates processing to a flow defined as above with a <flow/> element in XML. There is also support for creating a FlowStep in XML directly:

<job id="job">
    <step id="job1.flow1" flow="flow1" next="step3"/>
    <step id="step3" parent="s3"/>
</job>

<flow id="flow1">
    <step id="step1" parent="s1" next="step2"/>
    <step id="step2" parent="s2"/>
</flow>

The logic of execution of this job is the same as the previous example, but the data stored in the job repository is different: the Step "job1.flow1" gets its own entry in the repository. This can be useful for monitoring and reporting purposes, and moreover it can be used to give more structure to a partitioned step.

The third form of an externalized flow is to use a JobStep. A JobStep is similar to a FlowStep, but actually creates and launches a separate job execution for the steps in the flow specified. Here is an example:

<job id="jobStepJob" restartable="true">
   <step id="jobStepJob.step1">
      <job ref="job" job-launcher="jobLauncher"
          job-parameters-extractor="jobParametersExtractor"/>
   </step>
</job>

<job id="job" restartable="true">...</job>

<bean id="jobParametersExtractor" class="org.spr...DefaultJobParametersExtractor">
   <property name="keys" value="input.file"/>
</bean>

The job parameters extractor is a strategy that determines how a the ExecutionContext for the Step is converted into JobParameters for the Job that is executed. The JobStep is useful when you want to have some more granular options for monitoring and reporting on jobs and steps. Using JobStep is also often a good answer to the question: "How do I create dependencies between jobs?". It is a good way to break up a large system into smaller modules and control the flow of jobs.

5.4. Late Binding of Job and Step Attributes

Both the XML and Flat File examples above use the Spring Resource abstraction to obtain a file. This works because Resource has a getFile method, which returns a java.io.File. Both XML and Flat File resources can be configured using standard Spring constructs:

<bean id="flatFileItemReader"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource"
              value="file://outputs/20070122.testStream.CustomerReportStep.TEMP.txt" />
</bean>

The above Resource will load the file from the file system location specified. Note that absolute locations have to start with a double slash ("//"). In most spring applications, this solution is good enough because the names of these are known at compile time. However, in batch scenarios, the file name may need to be determined at runtime as a parameter to the job. This could be solved using '-D' parameters, i.e. a system property:

<bean id="flatFileItemReader"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource" value="${input.file.name}" />
</bean>

All that would be required for this solution to work would be a system argument (-Dinput.file.name="file://file.txt"). (Note that although a PropertyPlaceholderConfigurer can be used here, it is not necessary if the system property is always set because the ResourceEditor in Spring already filters and does placeholder replacement on system properties.)

Often in a batch setting it is preferable to parameterize the file name in the JobParameters of the job, instead of through system properties, and access them that way. To accomplish this, Spring Batch allows for the late binding of various Job and Step attributes:

<bean id="flatFileItemReader" scope="step"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource" value="#{jobParameters['input.file.name']}" />
</bean>

Both the JobExecution and StepExecution level ExecutionContext can be accessed in the same way:

<bean id="flatFileItemReader" scope="step"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource" value="#{jobExecutionContext['input.file.name']}" />
</bean>
<bean id="flatFileItemReader" scope="step"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource" value="#{stepExecutionContext['input.file.name']}" />
</bean>

Note

Any bean that uses late-binding must be declared with scope="step". See for Section 5.4.1, “Step Scope” more information.

Note

If you are using Spring 3.0 (or above) the expressions in step-scoped beans are in the Spring Expression Language, a powerful general purpose language with many interesting features. To provide backward compatibility, if Spring Batch detects the presence of older versions of Spring it uses a native expression language that is less powerful, and has slightly different parsing rules. The main difference is that the map keys in the example above do not need to be quoted with Spring 2.5, but the quotes are mandatory in Spring 3.0.

5.4.1. Step Scope

All of the late binding examples from above have a scope of "step" declared on the bean definition:

<bean id="flatFileItemReader" scope="step"
      class="org.springframework.batch.item.file.FlatFileItemReader">
    <property name="resource" value="#{jobParameters[input.file.name]}" />
</bean>

Using a scope of Step is required in order to use late binding since the bean cannot actually be instantiated until the Step starts, which allows the attributes to be found. Because it is not part of the Spring container by default, the scope must be added explicitly, either by using the batch namespace:

<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       xmlns:batch="http://www.springframework.org/schema/batch"
       xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
       xsi:schemaLocation="...">
<batch:job .../>
...
</beans>

or by including a bean definition explicitly for the StepScope (but not both):

<bean class="org.springframework.batch.core.scope.StepScope" />