Appendix B. Configuration

B.1 Introduction

Spring Integration offers a number of configuration options. Which option you choose depends upon your particular needs and at what level you prefer to work. As with the Spring framework in general, it is also possible to mix and match the various techniques according to the particular problem at hand. For example, you may choose the XSD-based namespace for the majority of configuration combined with a handful of objects that are configured with annotations. As much as possible, the two provide consistent naming. XML elements defined by the XSD schema will match the names of annotations, and the attributes of those XML elements will match the names of annotation properties. Direct usage of the API is of course always an option, but we expect that most users will choose one of the higher-level options, or a combination of the namespace-based and annotation-driven configuration.

B.2 Namespace Support

Spring Integration components can be configured with XML elements that map directly to the terminology and concepts of enterprise integration. In many cases, the element names match those of the Enterprise Integration Patterns.

To enable Spring Integration's core namespace support within your Spring configuration files, add the following namespace reference and schema mapping in your top-level 'beans' element:

<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
       xmlns:integration="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration"
       xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans-3.0.xsd
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/spring-integration-2.0.xsd">

You can choose any name after "xmlns:"; integration is used here for clarity, but you might prefer a shorter abbreviation. Of course if you are using an XML-editor or IDE support, then the availability of auto-completion may convince you to keep the longer name for clarity. Alternatively, you can create configuration files that use the Spring Integration schema as the primary namespace:

<beans:beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration"
       xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
       xmlns:beans="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans-3.0.xsd
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration
           http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/spring-integration-2.0.xsd">

When using this alternative, no prefix is necessary for the Spring Integration elements. On the other hand, if you want to define a generic Spring "bean" within the same configuration file, then a prefix would be required for the bean element (<beans:bean ... />). Since it is generally a good idea to modularize the configuration files themselves based on responsibility and/or architectural layer, you may find it appropriate to use the latter approach in the integration-focused configuration files, since generic beans are seldom necessary within those same files. For purposes of this documentation, we will assume the "integration" namespace is primary.

Many other namespaces are provided within the Spring Integration distribution. In fact, each adapter type (JMS, File, etc.) that provides namespace support defines its elements within a separate schema. In order to use these elements, simply add the necessary namespaces with an "xmlns" entry and the corresponding "schemaLocation" mapping. For example, the following root element shows several of these namespace declarations:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
    xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
    xmlns:integration="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration"
    xmlns:file="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/file"
    xmlns:jms="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/jms"
    xmlns:mail="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/mail"
    xmlns:rmi="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/rmi"
    xmlns:ws="http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/ws"
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans-3.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/spring-integration-2.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/file
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/file/spring-integration-file-2.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/jms
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/jms/spring-integration-jms-2.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/mail
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/mail/spring-integration-mail-2.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/rmi
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/rmi/spring-integration-rmi-2.0.xsd
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/ws
            http://www.springframework.org/schema/integration/ws/spring-integration-ws-2.0.xsd">
 ...
</beans>

The reference manual provides specific examples of the various elements in their corresponding chapters. Here, the main thing to recognize is the consistency of the naming for each namespace URI and schema location.

B.3 Configuring the Task Scheduler

In Spring Integration, the ApplicationContext plays the central role of a Message Bus, and there are only a couple configuration options to be aware of. First, you may want to control the central TaskScheduler instance. You can do so by providing a single bean with the name "taskScheduler". This is also defined as a constant:

 IntegrationContextUtils.TASK_SCHEDULER_BEAN_NAME 

By default Spring Integration uses the SimpleTaskScheduler implementation. That in turn just delegates to any instance of Spring's TaskExecutor abstraction. Therefore, it's rather trivial to supply your own configuration. The "taskScheduler" bean is then responsible for managing all pollers. The TaskScheduler will startup automatically by default. If you provide your own instance of SimpleTaskScheduler however, you can set the 'autoStartup' property to false instead.

When Polling Consumers provide an explicit task-executor reference in their configuration, the invocation of the handler methods will happen within that executor's thread pool and not the main scheduler pool. However, when no task-executor is provided for an endpoint's poller, it will be invoked by one of the main scheduler's threads.

[Note]Note
An endpoint is a Polling Consumer if its input channel is one of the queue-based (i.e. pollable) channels. On the other hand, Event Driven Consumers are those whose input channels have dispatchers instead of queues (i.e. they are subscribable). Such endpoints have no poller configuration since their handlers will be invoked directly.

The next section will describe what happens if Exceptions occur within the asynchronous invocations.

B.4 Error Handling

As described in the overview at the very beginning of this manual, one of the main motivations behind a Message-oriented framework like Spring Integration is to promote loose-coupling between components. The Message Channel plays an important role in that producers and consumers do not have to know about each other. However, the advantages also have some drawbacks. Some things become more complicated in a very loosely coupled environment, and one example is error handling.

When sending a Message to a channel, the component that ultimately handles that Message may or may not be operating within the same thread as the sender. If using a simple default DirectChannel (with the <channel> element that has no <queue> sub-element and no 'task-executor' attribute), the Message-handling will occur in the same thread as the Message-sending. In that case, if an Exception is thrown, it can be caught by the sender (or it may propagate past the sender if it is an uncaught RuntimeException). So far, everything is fine. This is the same behavior as an Exception-throwing operation in a normal call stack. However, when adding the asynchronous aspect, things become much more complicated. For instance, if the 'channel' element does provide a 'queue' sub-element, then the component that handles the Message will be operating in a different thread than the sender. The sender may have dropped the Message into the channel and moved on to other things. There is no way for the Exception to be thrown directly back to that sender using standard Exception throwing techniques. Instead, to handle errors for asynchronous processes requires an asynchronous error-handling mechanism as well.

Spring Integration supports error handling for its components by publishing errors to a Message Channel. Specifically, the Exception will become the payload of a Spring Integration Message. That Message will then be sent to a Message Channel that is resolved in a way that is similar to the 'replyChannel' resolution. First, if the request Message being handled at the time the Exception occurred contains an 'errorChannel' header (the header name is defined in the constant: MessageHeaders.ERROR_CHANNEL), the ErrorMessage will be sent to that channel. Otherwise, the error handler will send to a "global" channel whose bean name is "errorChannel" (this is also defined as a constant: IntegrationContextUtils.ERROR_CHANNEL_BEAN_NAME).

Whenever relying on Spring Integration's XML namespace support, a default "errorChannel" bean will be created behind the scenes. However, you can just as easily define your own if you want to control the settings.

 <channel id="errorChannel">
     <queue capacity="500"/>
 </channel>

[Note]Note
The default "errorChannel" is a PublishSubscribeChannel.

The most important thing to understand here is that the messaging-based error handling will only apply to Exceptions that are thrown by a Spring Integration task that is executing within a TaskExecutor. This does not apply to Exceptions thrown by a handler that is operating within the same thread as the sender (e.g. through a DirectChannel as described above).

[Note]Note
When Exceptions occur in a scheduled poller task's execution, those exceptions will be wrapped in ErrorMessages and sent to the 'errorChannel' as well.

To enable global error handling, simply register a handler on that channel. For example, you can configure Spring Integration's ErrorMessageExceptionTypeRouter as the handler of an endpoint that is subscribed to the 'errorChannel'. That router can then spread the error messages across multiple channels based on Exception type.

B.5 Annotation Support

In addition to the XML namespace support for configuring Message Endpoints, it is also possible to use annotations. First, Spring Integration provides the class-level @MessageEndpoint as a stereotype annotation meaning that is itself annotated with Spring's @Component annotation and therefore is recognized automatically as a bean definition when using Spring component-scanning.

Even more importantly are the various Method-level annotations that indicate the annotated method is capable of handling a message. The following example demonstrates both:

@MessageEndpoint
public class FooService {

    @ServiceActivator
    public void processMessage(Message message) {
        ...
    }
}

Exactly what it means for the method to "handle" the Message depends on the particular annotation. The following are available with Spring Integration, and the behavior of each is described in its own chapter or section within this reference: @Transformer, @Router, @Splitter, @Aggregator, @ServiceActivator, and @ChannelAdapter.

[Note]Note
The @MessageEndpoint is not required if using XML configuration in combination with annotations. If you want to configure a POJO reference from the "ref" attribute of a <service-activator/> element, it is sufficient to provide the method-level annotations. In that case, the annotation prevents ambiguity even when no "method" attribute exists on the <service-activator/> element.

In most cases, the annotated handler method should not require the Message type as its parameter. Instead, the method parameter type can match the message's payload type.

public class FooService {

    @ServiceActivator
    public void bar(Foo foo) {
        ...
    }

}

When the method parameter should be mapped from a value in the MessageHeaders, another option is to use the parameter-level @Header annotation. In general, methods annotated with the Spring Integration annotations can either accept the Message itself, the message payload, or a header value (with @Header) as the parameter. In fact, the method can accept a combination, such as:

public class FooService {

    @ServiceActivator
    public void bar(String payload, @Header("x") int valueX, @Header("y") int valueY) {
        ...
    }

}

There is also a @Headers annotation that provides all of the Message headers as a Map:

public class FooService {

    @ServiceActivator
    public void bar(String payload, @Headers Map<String, Object> headerMap) {
        ...
    }

}

For several of these annotations, when a Message-handling method returns a non-null value, the endpoint will attempt to send a reply. This is consistent across both configuration options (namespace and annotations) in that such an endpoint's output channel will be used if available, and the REPLY_CHANNEL message header value will be used as a fallback.

[Tip]Tip
The combination of output channels on endpoints and the reply channel message header enables a pipeline approach where multiple components have an output channel, and the final component simply allows the reply message to be forwarded to the reply channel as specified in the original request message. In other words, the final component depends on the information provided by the original sender and can dynamically support any number of clients as a result. This is an example of Return Address.

In addition to the examples shown here, these annotations also support inputChannel and outputChannel properties.

public class FooService {

    @ServiceActivator(inputChannel="input", outputChannel="output")
    public void bar(String payload, @Headers Map<String, Object> headerMap) {
        ...
    }

}

That provides a pure annotation-driven alternative to the XML configuration. However, it is generally recommended to use XML for the endpoints, since it is easier to keep track of the overall configuration in a single, external location (and besides the namespace-based XML configuration is not very verbose). If you do prefer to provide channels with the annotations however, you just need to enable a SI Annotations BeanPostProcessor. The following element should be added:

 <int:annotation-config/> 

[Note]Note
When configuring the "inputChannel" and "outputChannel" with annotations, the "inputChannel" must be a reference to a SubscribableChannel instance. Otherwise, it would be necessary to also provide the full poller configuration via annotations, and those settings (e.g. the trigger for scheduling the poller) should be externalized rather than hard-coded within an annotation. If the input channel that you want to receive Messages from is indeed a PollableChannel instance, one option to consider is the Messaging Bridge. Spring Integration's "bridge" element can be used to connect a PollableChannel directly to a SubscribableChannel. Then, the polling metadata is externally configured, but the annotation option is still available. For more detail see Chapter 15, Messaging Bridge.

B.6 Message Mapping rules and conventions

Spring Integration implements a flexible facility to map Messages to Methods and their arguments without providing extra configuration by relying on some default rules as well as defining certain conventions.

B.6.1 Simple Scenarios

Single un-annotated parameter (object or primitive) which is not a Map/Properties with non-void return type;

public String foo(Object o);

Details:

Input parameter is Message Payload. If parameter type is not compatible with Message Payload an attempt will be made to convert it using Conversion Service provided by Spring 3.0. The return value will be incorporated as a Payload of the returned Message

Single un-annotated parameter (object or primitive) which is not a Map/Properties with Message return type;

public Message  foo(Object o);

Details:

Input parameter is Message Payload. If parameter type is not compatible with Message Payload an attempt will be made to convert it using Conversion Service provided by Spring 3.0. The return value is a newly constructed Message that will be sent to the next destination.

Single parameter which is a Message or its subclass with arbitrary object/primitive return type;

public int foo(Message  msg);

Details:

Input parameter is Message itself. The return value will become a payload of the Message that will be sent to the next destination.

Single parameter which is a Message or its subclass with Message or its subclass as a return type;

public Message foo(Message msg);

Details:

Input parameter is Message itself. The return value is a newly constructed Message that will be sent to the next destination.

Single parameter which is of type Map or Properties with Message as a return type;

public Message foo(Map m);

Details:

This one is a bit interesting. Although at first it might seem like an easy mapping straight to Message Headers, the preference is always given to a Message Payload. This means that if Message Payload is of type Map, this input argument will represent Message Payload. However if Message Payload is not of type Map, then no conversion via Conversion Service will be attempted and the input argument will be mapped to Message Headers.

Two parameters where one of them is arbitrary non-Map/Properties type object/primitive and another is Map/Properties type object (regardless of the return)

public Message foo(Map h, <T> t);

Details:

This combination contains two input parameters where one of them is of type Map. Naturally the non-Map parameters (regardless of the order) will be mapped to a Message Payload and the Map/Properties (regardless of the order) will be mapped to  Message Headers giving you a nice POJO way of interacting with Message structure.

No parameters (regardless of the return)

public String foo();

Details:

This Message Handler method will be invoked based on the Message sent to the input channel this handler is hooked up to, however no Message data will be mapped, thus making Message act as event/trigger to invoke such handlerThe output will be mapped according to the rules above

No parameters, void return

public void foo();

Details:

Same as above, but no output 

Annotation based mappings

Annotation based mapping is the safest and least ambiguous approach to map Messages to Methods. There wil be many pointers to annotation based mapping throughout this manual, however here are couple of examples:

public String foo(@Payload String s,  @Header("foo") String b) 

Very simple and explicite way of mapping Messages to method. As you'll see later on without annotation this signature would result in the ambiguous condition, however by explicitly mapping first argument to a Message Payload and second argument to a value of the 'foo' Message Header we have avoided ambiguity.

public String foo(@Payload String s,  @RequestParam("foo") String b) 

Looks almost identical to the previous example, however @RequestMapping or any other non-SI mapping annotation is irrelevant  and therefore will be ignored leaving the second parameter unmapped. And although the second parameters could easily be mapped to a Payload, there can only be one Payload, therefore this method becomes ambiguous. 

public String foo(String s,  @Header("foo") String b) 

The same as above. The only difference is that the first argument will be mapped to Message Payload implicitly.

public String foo(@Headers Map m,  @Header("foo")Map f, @Header("bar") String bar)

Yet another signature that would definitely be treated as ambiguous because it has more then 2 arguments, plus two of them are Maps, however with annotation-based mapping ambiguity is easily avoided. In this example the first argument is mapped to all the Message Headers, while second and third argument map to the values of Message Headers 'foo' and 'bar'.

B.6.2 Complex Scenarios

Multiple parameters:

Multiple parameters could create a lot of ambiguity with regards to determining the appropriate mappings. The general advice is to annotate your method parameters with @Payload and/or @[email protected] Below are some of the examples of ambiguous conditions which result in exception being raised.

public String foo(String s, int i)

- the two parameters are equal in weight, therefore no way to determine which one is a payload and what to do with another.

public String foo(String s, Map m, String b) 

- almost the same as above. Although Map could be easily mapped to Message Headers, there is no way to determine what to do with two Strings.

public String foo(Map m, Map f)

- although one might argue that one Map could be mapped to Message Payload and another one to Message Headers, it would be unreasonable to rely on the order (e.g., first is Payload, second Headers)

[Tip]Tip
Basically any method signature with more then one method argument which is not (Map, <T>) and those parameters are not annotated will result in the ambiguous condition thus triggering an exception.

Multiple methods:

Message Handlers with multiple methods are mapped based on the same rules that are described above, however some scenarios might still look confusing.

Multiple methods (same or different name) with legal (mappable) signatures:

public class Foo{
  public String foo(String str, Map m);

  public String foo(Map m)
}

As you can see, the Message could be mapped to either method. The first method would be invoked where Message Payload could be mapped to 'str'  and Message Headers could be mapped to 'm'. The second method could easily also be a candidate where only Message Headers are mapped to 'm'. To make meters worse both methods have the same name which at first might look very ambiguous considering the following configuration:

<si:service-activator input-channel="input" output-channel="output" method="foo">
  <bean class="org.bar.Foo"/>
</si:service-activator>

At this point it would be important to understand Spring Integration mapping Conventions where at the very core, mappings are based on Payload first and everything else next. In other words the method whose argument could be mapped to a Payload will take precedence over all other methods.

On the other hand let's look at slightly different example:

public class Foo{
  public String foo(String str, Map m);

  public String foo(String str)
}

If you look at it you can probably see a truly an ambiguous condition. In this example since both methods have signatures that could be mapped to a Message Payload. They also have the same name. Such handler will trigger an exception. However if method names were different you could influence the mapping with 'method' attribute (see below):

public class Foo{
  public String foo(String str, Map m);

  public String bar(String str)
}
<si:service-activator input-channel="input" output-channel="output" method="bar">
  <bean class="org.bar.Foo"/>
</si:service-activator>

Now there is no ambiguity since the configuration explicitly maps to 'bar' method which has no name conflicts.