Appendix A. Spring Expression Language (SpEL)

A.1 Introduction

Many Spring Integration components can be configured using expressions. These expressions are written in the Spring Expression Language.

In most cases, the #root object is the Message which, of course, has two properties - headers and payload - allowing such expressions as payload,, headers['my.header'] etc.

In some cases, additional variables are provided, for example the <int-http:inbound-gateway/> provides #requestParams (parameters from the HTTP request) and #pathVariables (values from path placeholders in the URI).

For all SpEL expressions, a BeanResolver is available, enabling references to any bean in the application context. For example In addition, two PropertyAccessors are available; a MapAccessor enables accessing values in a Map using a key, and a ReflectivePropertyAccessor which allows access to fields and or JavaBean compliant properties (using getters and setters). This is how the Message headers and payload properties are accessible.

A.2 SpEL Evaluation Context Customization

Starting with Spring Integration 3.0, it is possible to add additional PropertyAccessors to the SpEL evaluation contexts used by the framework. The framework provides the JsonPropertyAccessor which can be used (read-only) to access fields from a JsonNode, or JSON in a String. Or you can create your own PropertyAccessor if you have specific needs.

In addition, custom functions can be added. Custom functions are static methods declared on a class. Functions and property accessors are available in any SpEL expression used throughout the framework.

The following configuration shows how to directly configure the IntegrationEvaluationContextFactoryBean with custom property accessors and functions. However, for convenience, namespace support is provided for both, as described in the following sections, and the framework will automatically configure the factory bean on your behalf.

<beans:bean id="integrationEvaluationContext"
	<property name="propertyAccessors">
			<beans:entry key="foo">
				<beans:bean class="<bean class="foo.MyCustomPropertyAccessor"/>"/>
	<property name="functions">
			<entry key="barcalc" value="#{T(foo.MyFunctions).getMethod('calc', T(foo.MyBar))}"/>

This factory bean definition will override the default integrationEvaluationContext bean definition, adding the custom accessor to the list (which also includes the standard accessors mentioned above), and one custom function.

Note that custom functions are static methods. In the above example, the custom function is a static method calc on class MyFunctions and takes a single parameter of type MyBar.

Say you have a Message with a payload that has a type MyFoo on which you need to perform some action to create a MyBar object from it, and you then want to invoke a custom function calc on that object.

The standard property accessors wouldn't know how to get a MyBar from a MyFoo so you could write and configure a custom property accessor to do so. So, your final expression might be "#barcalc(payload.myBar)".

A.3 SpEL Functions

Namespace support is provided for easy addition of SpEL custom functions. You can specify <spel-function/> components to provide custom SpEL functions to the EvaluationContext used throughout the framework. Instead of configuring the factory bean above, simply add one or more of these components and the framework will automatically add them to the default integrationEvaluationContext factory bean.

For example, assuming we have a useful static method to evaluate XPath:

<int:spel-function id="xpath"
	class="" method="evaluate(java.lang.String, java.lang.Object)"/>

<int:transformer input-channel="in" output-channel="out"
		 expression="#xpath('//foo/@bar', payload)" />

With this sample:

  • The default IntegrationEvaluationContextFactoryBean bean with id integrationEvaluationContext is registered with the application context.
  • The <spel-function/> is parsed and added to the functions Map of integrationEvaluationContext as map entry with id as the key and the static Method as the value.
  • The integrationEvaluationContext factory bean creates a new StandardEvaluationContext instance, and it is configured with the default PropertyAccessors, BeanResolver and the custom functions.
  • That EvaluationContext instance is injected into the ExpressionEvaluatingTransformer bean.

SpEL functions declared in a parent context are also made available in any child context(s). Each context has its own instance of the integrationEvaluationContext factory bean because each needs a different BeanResolver, but the function declarations are inherited and can be overridden if needed by declaring a SpEL function with the same name.

Built-in SpEL Functions

Spring Integration provides some standard functions, which are registered with the application context automatically on start up:

  • #jsonPath - to evaluate a 'jsonPath' on some provided object. This function invokes JsonPathUtils.evaluate(...). This static method delegates to the Jayway JsonPath library. The following shows some usage examples:
    <transformer expression="#jsonPath(payload, '$[0].author')"/>
    <filter expression="#jsonPath(payload,'$[2].isbn') matches '\d-\d{3}-\d{5}-\d'"/>
    <splitter expression="#jsonPath(payload, '$')"/>
    <router expression="#jsonPath(payload, headers.jsonPath)">
    	<mapping channel="output1" value="reference"/>
    	<mapping channel="output2" value="fiction"/>
    #jsonPath also supports the third optional parameter - an array of com.jayway.jsonpath.Filter, which could be provided by a reference to a bean or bean method, for example.
    Using this function requires the Jayway JsonPath library (json-path.jar) to be on the classpath; otherwise the #jsonPath SpEL function won't be registered.
    For more information regarding JSON see 'JSON Transformers' in Section 6.1, “Transformer”.
  • #xpath - to evaluate an 'xpath' on some provided object. For more information regarding xml and xpath see Chapter 31, XML Support - Dealing with XML Payloads.

A.4 PropertyAccessors

Namespace support is provided for the easy addition of SpEL custom PropertyAccessor implementations. You can specify the <spel-property-accessors/> component to provide a list of custom PropertyAccessors to the EvaluationContext used throughout the framework. Instead of configuring the factory bean above, simply add one or more of these components, and the framework will automatically add the accessors to the default integrationEvaluationContext factory bean:

	<bean id="jsonPA" class="org.springframework.integration.json.JsonPropertyAccessor"/>
	<ref bean="fooPropertyAccessor"/>

With this sample, two custom PropertyAccessors will be injected to the EvaluationContext in the order that they are declared.

Custom PropertyAccessors declared in a parent context are also made available in any child context(s). They are placed at the end of result list (but before the default org.springframework.context.expression.MapAccessor and If a PropertyAccessor with the same bean id is declared in a child context(s), it will override the parent accessor. Beans declared within a <spel-property-accessors/> must have an 'id' attribute. The final order of usage is: the accessors in the current context, in the order in which they are declared, followed by any from parent contexts, in order, followed by the MapAccessor and finally the ReflectivePropertyAccessor.