16.4 Handler mappings

Using a handler mapping you can map incoming web requests to appropriate handlers. There are some handler mappings you can use out of the box, for example, the SimpleUrlHandlerMapping or the BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping, but let's first examine the general concept of a HandlerMapping.

The functionality a basic HandlerMapping provides is the delivering of a HandlerExecutionChain, which must contain the handler that matches the incoming request, and may also contain a list of handler interceptors that are applied to the request. When a request comes in, the DispatcherServlet will hand it over to the handler mapping to let it inspect the request and come up with an appropriate HandlerExecutionChain. Then the DispatcherServlet will execute the handler and interceptors in the chain (if any).

The concept of configurable handler mappings that can optionally contain interceptors (executed before or after the actual handler was executed, or both) is extremely powerful. A lot of supporting functionality can be built into custom HandlerMappings. Think of a custom handler mapping that chooses a handler not only based on the URL of the request coming in, but also on a specific state of the session associated with the request.

This section describes two of Spring's most commonly used handler mappings. They both extend the AbstractHandlerMapping and share the following properties:

(Note: the last three properties are only available to subclasses of org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.AbstractUrlHandlerMapping).

16.4.1 BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping

A very simple, but very powerful handler mapping is the BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping, which maps incoming HTTP requests to names of beans, defined in the web application context. Let's say we want to enable a user to insert an account and we've already provided an appropriate form controller (see Section 16.3.4, “Command controllers” for more information on command- and form controllers) and a JSP view (or Velocity template) that renders the form. When using the BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping, we could map the HTTP request with the URL http://samples.com/editaccount.form to the appropriate form Controller as follows:

<beans>
  <bean id="handlerMapping" class="org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping"/>

  <bean name="/editaccount.form" class="org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.SimpleFormController">
    <property name="formView" value="account"/>
    <property name="successView" value="account-created"/>
    <property name="commandName" value="account"/>
    <property name="commandClass" value="samples.Account"/>
  </bean>
<beans>

All incoming requests for the URL /editaccount.form will now be handled by the form Controller in the source listing above. Of course we have to define a servlet-mapping in web.xml as well, to let through all the requests ending with .form.

<web-app>
    ...
    <servlet>
        <servlet-name>sample</servlet-name>
        <servlet-class>org.springframework.web.servlet.DispatcherServlet</servlet-class>
        <load-on-startup>1</load-on-startup>
    </servlet>

   <!-- maps the sample dispatcher to *.form -->
    <servlet-mapping>
        <servlet-name>sample</servlet-name>
        <url-pattern>*.form</url-pattern>
    </servlet-mapping>
    ...
</web-app>
[Note]Note

If you want to use the BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping, you don't necessarily have to define it in the web application context (as indicated above). By default, if no handler mapping can be found in the context, the DispatcherServlet creates a BeanNameUrlHandlerMapping for you!

16.4.2 SimpleUrlHandlerMapping

A further - and much more powerful handler mapping - is the SimpleUrlHandlerMapping. This mapping is configurable in the application context and has Ant-style path matching capabilities (see the Javadoc for the org.springframework.util.PathMatcher class). Here is an example:

<web-app>
    ...
    <servlet>
        <servlet-name>sample</servlet-name>
        <servlet-class>org.springframework.web.servlet.DispatcherServlet</servlet-class>
        <load-on-startup>1</load-on-startup>
    </servlet>

    <!-- maps the sample dispatcher to *.form -->
    <servlet-mapping>
        <servlet-name>sample</servlet-name>
        <url-pattern>*.form</url-pattern>
    </servlet-mapping>

    <!-- maps the sample dispatcher to *.html -->
    <servlet-mapping>
        <servlet-name>sample</servlet-name>
        <url-pattern>*.html</url-pattern>
    </servlet-mapping>
    ...
</web-app>

The above web.xml configuration snippet enables all requests ending with .html and .form to be handled by the sample dispatcher servlet.

<beans>
        
    <!-- no 'id' required, HandlerMapping beans are automatically detected by the DispatcherServlet -->
    <bean class="org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.SimpleUrlHandlerMapping">
        <property name="mappings">
            <value>
                /*/account.form=editAccountFormController
                /*/editaccount.form=editAccountFormController
                /ex/view*.html=helpController
                /**/help.html=helpController
            </value>
        </property>
    </bean>

    <bean id="helpController"
          class="org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.UrlFilenameViewController"/>

    <bean id="editAccountFormController"
          class="org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.SimpleFormController">
        <property name="formView" value="account"/>
        <property name="successView" value="account-created"/>
        <property name="commandName" value="Account"/>
        <property name="commandClass" value="samples.Account"/>
    </bean>
<beans>

This handler mapping routes requests for 'help.html' in any directory to the 'helpController', which is a UrlFilenameViewController (more about controllers can be found in the section entitled Section 16.3, “Controllers”). Requests for a resource beginning with 'view', and ending with '.html' in the directory 'ex' will be routed to the 'helpController'. Two further mappings are also defined for 'editAccountFormController'.

16.4.3 Intercepting requests - the HandlerInterceptor interface

Spring's handler mapping mechanism has the notion of handler interceptors, that can be extremely useful when you want to apply specific functionality to certain requests, for example, checking for a principal.

Interceptors located in the handler mapping must implement HandlerInterceptor from the org.springframework.web.servlet package. This interface defines three methods, one that will be called before the actual handler will be executed, one that will be called after the handler is executed, and one that is called after the complete request has finished. These three methods should provide enough flexibility to do all kinds of pre- and post-processing.

The preHandle(..) method returns a boolean value. You can use this method to break or continue the processing of the execution chain. When this method returns true, the handler execution chain will continue, when it returns false, the DispatcherServlet assumes the interceptor itself has taken care of requests (and, for example, rendered an appropriate view) and does not continue executing the other interceptors and the actual handler in the execution chain.

The following example provides an interceptor that intercepts all requests and reroutes the user to a specific page if the time is not between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

<beans>
    <bean id="handlerMapping"
          class="org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.SimpleUrlHandlerMapping">
        <property name="interceptors">
            <list>
                <ref bean="officeHoursInterceptor"/>
            </list>
        </property>
        <property name="mappings">
            <value>
                /*.form=editAccountFormController
                /*.view=editAccountFormController
            </value>
        </property>
    </bean>

    <bean id="officeHoursInterceptor"
          class="samples.TimeBasedAccessInterceptor">
        <property name="openingTime" value="9"/>
        <property name="closingTime" value="18"/>
    </bean>
<beans>
package samples;

public class TimeBasedAccessInterceptor extends HandlerInterceptorAdapter {

    private int openingTime;
    private int closingTime;

    public void setOpeningTime(int openingTime) {
        this.openingTime = openingTime;
    }

    public void setClosingTime(int closingTime) {
        this.closingTime = closingTime;
    }

    public boolean preHandle(
            HttpServletRequest request,
            HttpServletResponse response,
            Object handler) throws Exception {

        Calendar cal = Calendar.getInstance();
        int hour = cal.get(HOUR_OF_DAY);
        if (openingTime <= hour < closingTime) {
            return true;
        } else {
            response.sendRedirect("http://host.com/outsideOfficeHours.html");
            return false;
        }
    }
}

Any request coming in, will be intercepted by the TimeBasedAccessInterceptor, and if the current time is outside office hours, the user will be redirected to a static html file, saying, for example, he can only access the website during office hours.

As you can see, Spring has an adapter class (the cunningly named HandlerInterceptorAdapter) to make it easier to extend the HandlerInterceptor interface.