13. FTP/FTPS Adapters

Spring Integration provides support for file transfer operations via FTP and FTPS.

13.1 Introduction

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a simple network protocol which allows you to transfer files between two computers on the Internet.

There are two actors when it comes to FTP communication: client and server. To transfer files with FTP/FTPS, you use a client which initiates a connection to a remote computer that is running an FTP server. After the connection is established, the client can choose to send and/or receive copies of files.

Spring Integration supports sending and receiving files over FTP/FTPS by providing three client side endpoints: Inbound Channel Adapter, Outbound Channel Adapter, and Outbound Gateway. It also provides convenient namespace-based configuration options for defining these client components.

To use the FTP namespace, add the following to the header of your XML file:


13.2 FTP Session Factory

Before configuring FTP adapters you must configure an FTP Session Factory. You can configure the FTP Session Factory with a regular bean definition where the implementation class is org.springframework.integration.ftp.session.DefaultFtpSessionFactory: Below is a basic configuration:

<bean id="ftpClientFactory" 
		<property name="host" value="localhost"/>
		<property name="port" value="22"/>
		<property name="username" value="kermit"/>
		<property name="password" value="frog"/>
		<property name="clientMode" value="0"/>
		<property name="fileType" value="2"/>
		<property name="bufferSize" value="100000"/>

For FTPS connections all you need to do is use org.springframework.integration.ftp.session.DefaultFtpsSessionFactory instead. Below is the complete configuration sample:

<bean id="ftpClientFactory" 
		<property name="host" value="localhost"/>
		<property name="port" value="22"/>
		<property name="username" value="oleg"/>
		<property name="password" value="password"/>
		<property name="clientMode" value="1"/>
		<property name="fileType" value="2"/>
		<property name="useClientMode" value="true"/>
		<property name="cipherSuites" value="a,b.c"/>
		<property name="keyManager" ref="keyManager"/>
		<property name="protocol" value="SSL"/>
		<property name="trustManager" ref="trustManager"/>
		<property name="prot" value="P"/>
		<property name="needClientAuth" value="true"/>
		<property name="authValue" value="oleg"/>
		<property name="sessionCreation" value="true"/>
		<property name="protocols" value="SSL, TLS"/>
		<property name="implicit" value="true"/>

Every time an adapter requests a session object from its SessionFactory the session is returned from a session pool maintained by a caching wrapper around the factory. A Session in the session pool might go stale (if it has been disconnected by the server due to inactivity) so the SessionFactory will perform validation to make sure that it never returns a stale session to the adapter. If a stale session was encountered, it will be removed from the pool, and a new one will be created.

If you experience connectivity problems and would like to trace Session creation as well as see which Sessions are polled you may enable it by setting the logger to TRACE level (e.g., log4j.category.org.springframework.integration.file=TRACE)

Now all you need to do is inject these session factories into your adapters. Obviously the protocol (FTP or FTPS) that an adapter will use depends on the type of session factory that has been injected into the adapter.

A more practical way to provide values for FTP/FTPS Session Factories is by using Spring's property placeholder support (See: http://static.springsource.org/spring/docs/3.0.x/spring-framework-reference/html/beans.html#beans-factory-placeholderconfigurer).

Advanced Configuration

DefaultFtpSessionFactory provides an abstraction over the underlying client API which, in the current release of Spring Integration, is Apache Commons Net. This spares you from the low level configuration details of the org.apache.commons.net.ftp.FTPClient. However there are times when access to lower level FTPClient details is necessary to achieve more advanced configuration (e.g., setting data timeout, default timeout etc.). For that purpose, AbstractFtpSessionFactory (the base class for all FTP Session Factories) exposes hooks, in the form of the two post-processing methods below.

	 * Will handle additional initialization after client.connect() method was invoked, 
	 * but before any action on the client has been taken 
	protected void postProcessClientAfterConnect(T t) throws IOException {
		// NOOP
	 * Will handle additional initialization before client.connect() method was invoked. 
	protected void postProcessClientBeforeConnect(T client) throws IOException {
		// NOOP

As you can see, there is no default implementation for these two methods. However, by extending DefaultFtpSessionFactory you can override these methods to provide more advanced configuration of the FTPClient. For example:

public class AdvancedFtpSessionFactory extends DefaultFtpSessionFactory {

  protected void postProcessClientBeforeConnect(FTPClient ftpClient) throws IOException {

13.3 FTP Inbound Channel Adapter

The FTP Inbound Channel Adapter is a special listener that will connect to the FTP server and will listen for the remote directory events (e.g., new file created) at which point it will initiate a file transfer.

<int-ftp:inbound-channel-adapter id="ftpInbound"
				local-filename-generator-expression="#this.toUpperCase() + '.a'"
			<int:poller fixed-rate="1000"/>

As you can see from the configuration above you can configure an FTP Inbound Channel Adapter via the inbound-channel-adapter element while also providing values for various attributes such as local-directory, filename-pattern (which is based on simple pattern matching, not regular expressions), and of course the reference to a session-factory.

By default the transferred file will carry the same name as the original file. If you want to override this behavior you can set the local-filename-generator-expression attribute which allows you to provide a SpEL Expression to generate the name of the local file. Unlike outbound gateways and adapters where the root object of the SpEL Evaluation Context is a Message, this inbound adapter does not yet have the Message at the time of evaluation since that's what it ultimately generates with the transferred file as its payload. So, the root object of the SpEL Evaluation Context is the original name of the remote file (String).

Sometimes file filtering based on the simple pattern specified via filename-pattern attribute might not be sufficient. If this is the case, you can use the filename-regex attribute to specify a Regular Expression (e.g. filename-regex=".*\.test$"). And of course if you need complete control you can use filter attribute and provide a reference to any custom implementation of the org.springframework.integration.file.filters.FileListFilter, a strategy interface for filtering a list of files.

As of Spring Integration 2.0.2, we have added a 'remote-file-separator' attribute. That allows you to configure a file separator character to use if the default '/' is not applicable for your particular environment.

Please refer to the schema for more details on these attributes.

It is also important to understand that the FTP Inbound Channel Adapter is a Polling Consumer and therefore you must configure a poller (either via a global default or a local sub-element). Once a file has been transferred, a Message with a java.io.File as its payload will be generated and sent to the channel identified by the channel attribute.

More on File Filtering and Large Files

Sometimes the file that just appeared in the monitored (remote) directory is not complete. Typically such a file will be written with temporary extension (e.g., foo.txt.writing) and then renamed after the writing process finished. As a user in most cases you are only interested in files that are complete and would like to filter only files that are complete. To handle these scenarios you can use the filtering support provided by the filename-pattern, filename-regex and filter attributes. Here is an example that uses a custom Filter implementation.

	<int:poller fixed-rate="1000"/>
<bean id="customFilter" class="org.example.CustomFilter"/>

Poller configuration notes for the inbound FTP adapter

The job of the inbound FTP adapter consists of two tasks: 1) Communicate with a remote server in order to transfer files from a remote directory to a local directory. 2) For each transferred file, generate a Message with that file as a payload and send it to the channel identified by the 'channel' attribute. That is why they are called 'channel-adapters' rather than just 'adapters'. The main job of such an adapter is to generate a Message to be sent to a Message Channel. Essentially, the second task mentioned above takes precedence in such a way that *IF* your local directory already has one or more files it will first generate Messages from those, and *ONLY* when all local files have been processed, will it initiate the remote communication to retrieve more files.

Also, when configuring a trigger on the poller you should pay close attention to the max-messages-per-poll attribute. Its default value is 1 for all SourcePollingChannelAdapter instances (including FTP). This means that as soon as one file is processed, it will wait for the next execution time as determined by your trigger configuration. If you happened to have one or more files sitting in the local-directory, it would process those files before it would initiate communication with the remote FTP server. And, if the max-messages-per-poll were set to 1 (default), then it would be processing only one file at a time with intervals as defined by your trigger, essentially working as one-poll = one-file.

For typical file-transfer use cases, you most likely want the opposite behavior: to process all the files you can for each poll and only then wait for the next poll. If that is the case, set max-messages-per-poll to -1. Then, on each poll, the adapter will attempt to generate as many Messages as it possibly can. In other words, it will process everything in the local directory, and then it will connect to the remote directory to transfer everything that is available there to be processed locally. Only then is the poll operation considered complete, and the poller will wait for the next execution time.

You can alternatively set the 'max-messages-per-poll' value to a positive value indicating the upward limit of Messages to be created from files with each poll. For example, a value of 10 means that on each poll it will attempt to process no more than 10 files.

13.4 FTP Outbound Channel Adapter

The FTP Outbound Channel Adapter relies upon a MessageHandler implementation that will connect to the FTP server and initiate an FTP transfer for every file it receives in the payload of incoming Messages. It also supports several representations of the File so you are not limited only to java.io.File typed payloads. The FTP Outbound Channel Adapter supports the following payloads: 1) java.io.File - the actual file object; 2) byte[] - a byte array that represents the file contents; and 3) java.lang.String - text that represents the file contents.

<int-ftp:outbound-channel-adapter id="ftpOutbound"

As you can see from the configuration above you can configure an FTP Outbound Channel Adapter via the outbound-channel-adapter element while also providing values for various attributes such as filename-generator (an implementation of the org.springframework.integration.file.FileNameGenerator strategy interface), a reference to a session-factory, as well as other attributes. You can also see some examples of *expression attributes which allow you to use SpEL to configure things like remote-directory-expression, temporary-remote-directory-expression and remote-filename-generator-expression (a SpEL alternative to filename-generator shown above). As with any component that allows the usage of SpEL, access to Payload and Message Headers is available via 'payload' and 'headers' variables. Please refer to the schema for more details on the available attributes.

By default Spring Integration will use org.springframework.integration.file.DefaultFileNameGenerator if none is specified. DefaultFileNameGenerator will determine the file name based on the value of the file_name header (if it exists) in the MessageHeaders, or if the payload of the Message is already a java.io.File, then it will use the original name of that file.

Defining certain values (e.g., remote-directory) might be platform/ftp server dependent. For example as it was reported on this forum http://forum.springsource.org/showthread.php?p=333478&posted=1#post333478 on some platforms you must add slash to the end of the directory definition (e.g., remote-directory="/foo/bar/" instead of remote-directory="/foo/bar")

Avoiding Partially Written Files

One of the common problems, when dealing with file transfers, is the possibility of processing a partial file - a file might appear in the file system before its transfer is actually complete.

To deal with this issue, Spring Integration FTP adapters use a very common algorithm where files are transferred under a temporary name and then renamed once they are fully transferred.

By default, every file that is in the process of being transferred will appear in the file system with an additional suffix which, by default, is .writing; this can be changed using the temporary-file-suffix attribute.

However, there may be situations where you don't want to use this technique (for example, if the server does not permit renaming files). For situations like this, you can disable this feature by setting use-temporary-file-name to false (default is true). When this attribute is false, the file is written with its final name and the consuming application will need some other mechanism to detect that the file is completely uploaded before accessing it.

13.5 FTP Outbound Gateway

The FTP Outbound Gateway provides a limited set of commands to interact with a remote FTP/FTPS server.

Commands supported are:

  • ls (list files)
  • get (retrieve file)
  • mget (retrieve file(s))
  • rm (remove file(s))


ls lists remote file(s) and supports the following options:

  • -1 - just retrieve a list of filenames, default is to retrieve a list of FileInfo objects.
  • -a - include all files (including those starting with '.')
  • -f - do not sort the list
  • -dirs - include directories (excluded by default)
  • -links - include symbolic links (excluded by default)

In addition, filename filtering is provided, in the same manner as the inbound-channel-adapter.

The message payload resulting from an ls operation is a list of file names, or a list of FileInfo objects. These objects provide information such as modified time, permissions etc.

The remote directory that the ls command acted on is provided in the file_remoteDirectory header.


get retrieves a remote file and supports the following option:

  • -P - preserve the timestamp of the remote file

The message payload resulting from a get operation is a File object representing the retrieved file.

The remote directory is provided in the file_remoteDirectory header, and the filename is provided in the file_remoteFile header.


mget retrieves multiple remote files based on a pattern and supports the following option:

  • -x - Throw an exception if no files match the pattern (otherwise an empty list is returned)

The message payload resulting from an mget operation is a List<File> object - a List of File objects, each representing a retrieved file.

The remote directory is provided in the file_remoteDirectory header, and the pattern for the filenames is provided in the file_remoteFile header.


The rm command has no options.

The message payload resulting from an rm operation is Boolean.TRUE if the remove was successful, Boolean.FALSE otherwise. The remote directory is provided in the file_remoteDirectory header, and the filename is provided in the file_remoteFile header.

In each case, the PATH that these commands act on is provided by the 'expression' property of the gateway. For the mget command, the expression might evaluate to '*', meaning retrieve all files, or 'somedirectory/*' etc.

Here is an example of a gateway configured for an ls command...

<int-ftp:outbound-gateway id="gateway1"

The payload of the message sent to the toSplitter channel is a list of String objects containing the filename of each file. If the command-options was omitted, it would be a list of FileInfo objects. Options are provided space-delimited, e.g. command-options="-1 -dirs -links".

13.6 FTP Session Caching

As of version 2.1 we've exposed more flexibility with regard to session management for remote file adapters (e.g., FTP, SFTP etc). In previous versions the sessions were cached automatically by default. We did expose a cache-sessions attribute for disabling the auto caching, but that solution did not provide a way to configure other session caching attributes. For example, one of the requested features was to support a limit on the number of sessions created since a remote server may impose a limit on the number of client connections. To support that requirement and other configuration options, we decided to promote explicit definition of the CachingSessionFactory instance. That provides the sessionCacheSize and sessionWaitTimeout properties. As its name suggests, the sessionCacheSize property controls how many active sessions this adapter will maintain in its cache (the DEFAULT is unbounded). If the sessionCacheSize threshold has been reached, any attempt to acquire another session will block until either one of the cached sessions becomes available or until the wait time for a Session expires (the DEFAULT wait time is Integer.MAX_VALUE). The sessionWaitTimeout property enables configuration of that value.

If you want your Sessions to be cached, simply configure your default Session Factory as described above and then wrap it in an instance of CachingSessionFactory where you may provide those additional properties.

<bean id="ftpSessionFactory" class="org.springframework.integration.ftp.session.DefaultFtpSessionFactory">
		<property name="host" value="localhost"/>
	<bean id="cachingSessionFactory" class="org.springframework.integration.file.remote.session.CachingSessionFactory">
		<constructor-arg ref="ftpSessionFactory"/>
		<constructor-arg value="10"/>
		<property name="sessionWaitTimeout" value="1000"/>

In the above example you see a CachingSessionFactory created with the sessionCacheSize set to 10 and the sessionWaitTimeout set to 1 second (its value is in millliseconds).