WildFly Swarm: Building Microservices with Java EE

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This quote by the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery was made to substantiate that often less is more. This is true for architect, artist, designer, writer, running, software developer, or in any other profession. Simplicity, minimalism, cutting down the cruft always goes a long way and has several advantages as opposed to something bloated.

What is WildFly Swarm?

WildFly is a light weight, flexible, feature rich, Java EE 7 compliant application server. WildFly 9 even introduced a 27MB Servlet-only distribution. These are very well suited for your enterprise and web applications.

WildFly Swarm takes the notch a bit higher. From the announcement:

WildFly Swarm is a new sidecar project supporting WildFly 9.x to enable deconstructing the WildFly AS and pasting just enough of it back together with your application to create a self-contained executable jar.

The typical application development model for a Java EE application is to create an EAR or WAR archive and deploy it in an application server. All the dependencies, such as Java EE implementations are packaged in the application server and provide the functionality required by the application classes. Multiple archives can be deployed and they all share the same libraries. This is a well understood model and have been used over the past several years.

WildFly Swarm turns the table where it creates a “fat jar” that has all the dependencies packaged in a JAR file. This includes a minimalist version of WildFly, any required dependencies, and of course, the application code itself. The application can simply be run using java -jar.

Each fat jar could possibly be a microservice which can then independently upgrade, replace, or scale. Each fat jar would typically follow single responsibility principle and thus will have only the required dependencies packaged. Each JAR can use polyglot persistence, and use only the persistence mechanism that is required.

Show me the code!

A Java EE application can be packaged as WildFly Swarm fat jar by adding a Maven dependency and a plugin. Complete source code for a simple JAX-RS sample is available at github.com/arun-gupta/wildfly-samples/tree/master/swarm.

WildFly Swarm Maven Dependency

Add the following Maven dependency in pom.xml:

WildFly Swarm Maven Plugin

Add the following Maven plugin in pom.xml:

Create WildFly Swarm Fat Jar

The fat jar can be easily created by invoking the standard Maven target:

This generates a JAR file using the usual Maven conventions, and appends -swarm at the end. The generated WAR file name in our sample is swarm-1.0-SNAPSHOT-swarm.jar.

The generated WAR file is ~30MB, has 134 JARs (all in m2repo directory), and 211 classes. The application code is bundled in app/swarm-1.0-SNAPSHOT.war.

Run WildFly Swarm Fat Jar

This far jar can be run as:

The response can be verified as:

WildFly Swarm Release blog refers to lots of blogs about Servlet, JAX-RS with ShrinkWrap, DataSource via Deployment, Messaging and JAX-RS, and much more.

WildFly Swarm Next Steps

This is only 1.0.0.Alpha1 release so feel free to try out samples and give us feedback by filing an issue.

You have the power of all WildFly subsystems, and can even create embeddable Java EE container as shown in the release blog:

Subsequent blogs will show how a microservice can be easily created using WildFly Swarm.

WildFly Swarm Stay Connected

You can keep up with the project through the WildFly HipChat room, @wildflyswarm on Twitter, or through GitHub Issues.

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