Spring into Mobile Application Development

Engineering | Keith Donald | November 19, 2010 | ...

At SpringOne2gx we announced exciting new initiatives in the areas of social media and mobile application development. A few weeks ago, Craig Walls released Spring Social. Today, Roy Clarkson released Spring Mobile and Spring Android. In this post, I'd like to highlight these projects and share how Spring aims to simplify mobile application development.

Choices in Mobile Application Development

If you attended SpringOne2gx this year, you've seen Greenhouse, an app we built for our community that also serves as a reference and driver for Spring technology. Craig showed you some of the social elements of Greenhouse, such as the ability to connect your account with Twitter and Facebook. There are also a number of mobile elements. Specifically, Greenhouse doubles as a mobile web app, and sports native Greenhouse for iPhone

Spring Mobile 1.0.0.M1 Released

Releases | Roy Clarkson | November 19, 2010 | ...

Dear Spring Community,

We are pleased to announce that the first milestone release of the Spring Mobile project is now available!

Spring Mobile provides extensions to Spring MVC that aid in the development of cross-platform mobile web applications. The defining feature of the 1.0.0.M1 release is support for server-side device detection.

To get you started, Keith has posted a Spring into Mobile Application Development blog, which provides insight into the project.

This milestone is the first in an exciting road ahead. We invite you to get involved in Spring Mobile development and look forward to your feedback!

Yet Another Flavour of GORM: MongoDB

Engineering | Graeme Rocher | November 15, 2010 | ...

Our crusade to make GORM ubiquitous across NoSQL stores hit another milestones today as we are pleased to announce GORM for MongoDB.

MongoDB is a document database that bridges the gap between key-value stores (which are fast and highly scalable) and traditional RDBMS systems (which provide rich queries and deep functionality).

Like the Redis and Gemfire plugins, GORM for MongoDB has full support for CRUD operations:

def person = new Person(name:"Fred", age: 45)

person = Person.get(person.id)
assert person != null


assert Person.get(person.id) == null

Rich querying with dynamic finders

SpringSource Tool Suite 2.5.1 released

Releases | Christian Dupuis | November 12, 2010 | ...

Dear Spring Community

I'm pleased to announce that we just released SpringSource Tool Suite (STS) 2.5.1.RELEASE.

Some highlights from the new release:

  • New features to make Spring Roo 1.1.0.RELEASE even more powerful
  • Support for tc Server 2.1 incl. Spring Insight
  • Grails projects can now be deployed directly to tc Server from within STS; just drag the app onto the server and make sure to fire up the new Spring Insight to profile your application
  • Enhancements for debugging Groovy code
  • JDT weaving is enabled by default

More details on new features and bug fixes can be found in the New and Noteworthy document. Detailed installation instructions are also available.

As always downloads are available from the STS download page. Feel free to stop by the community support forum if you have any question or issue.

Hyperic 4.5 Released

Engineering | Jennifer Hickey | November 10, 2010 | ...

After many months of development, I am proud to announce the release of Hyperic 4.5. In this release, we migrated Hyperic from an EJB application running on JBoss to a Spring web application running on Tomcat. The detailed migration steps are covered in my Case Study on Migrating Hyperic from EJB to Spring, originally presented at the recent SpringOne 2GX. In this post, I would like to highlight a few of my favorite things about the conversion.

Improved testability

Switching to Spring allowed us to convert our existing Stateless Session EJBs to POJOs with autowired dependencies. This eliminated quite a bit of static JNDI lookup code that made unit testing so difficult. Spring also made integration testing significantly easier. Before the conversion, we had a handful of integration tests that each took several minutes to bootstrap an approximation of an EJB container. This process was cumbersome and error prone. Additionally, the tests often left the database in an inconsistent state, making it necessary to add database setup or tear down code, adding additional overhead to test execution time and occasionally causing inconsistent test results.

After the conversion, we were able to take advantage of Spring's integration testing support to test our new service layer of converted EJBs as…

Green Beans: Putting the Spring in Your Step (and Application)

Engineering | Josh Long | November 09, 2010 | ...

The Spring framework emerged as a de-facto standard in 2003 and has been helping people build bigger, better applications with cleaner code ever since. In this post, we will discuss the options available to you for configuring an application using the Spring component model. We will grow a simple application from the simplest form and rework it to take advantage of some of the many simplifying features in the Spring framework that have made it, and continue to make it, the de-facto standard for applications today.

The modern day enterprise Java application has many collaborating objects that…

Spring Python 1.2.0.RC1 is released!

Engineering | Greg L. Turnquist | November 03, 2010 | ...

After many months of work, Spring Python's first 1.2 release is available.

The project has migrated its documentation to Sphinx, the same tool used for documenting the Python language itself. You can visit the project site and view it in HTML or download an epub version for viewing on a smart phone or tablet device.

This version of Spring Python transitions to Python 2.6, dropping support for 2.4 and 2.5. This means the team is gearing up to utilize many of the newer features of Python, which also paves the way to transition towards Python 3.x at some time in the future.

Spring Python has…

Spring Social 1.0.0 Milestone 1 is Now Available

Releases | Craig Walls | November 03, 2010 | ...

Dear Spring Community,

We are pleased to announce that the first milestone release of Spring Social 1.0 is now available!

Spring Social enables development of social-ready applications, linking your application's users to the social networks where they hang out. What's more the capabilities of Spring Social are illustrated by the Greenhouse reference application.

Spring Social 1.0.0-M1 contains the following core features:

  • Social templates for interaction with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TripIt, and Greenhouse
  • An OAuth-enabled connection factory for signing RestTemplate requests with OAuth authentication details
  • A web argument resolver for extracting Facebook user ID and access token information in a Spring MVC controller

To get you started, I've posted Socializing Spring Applications, an introduction to Spring Social.

This milestone release is just the beginning. We look forward to your feedback to help us shape Spring Social.

Download | Javadoc API

Socializing Spring Applications

Engineering | Craig Walls | November 03, 2010 | ...

Increasingly, web surfers are using the internet to connect with friends, family, and colleagues using social networking sites. Conversations that once took place over email are now taking place in short messages written on someone's Facebook wall or in a brief tweet on Twitter. Connections once made with a handshake are now created using LinkedIn. And when a face-to-face meetings are desired, travel details can be shared using TripIt.

Just as people are using these social networking sites to interact with each other, businesses are also finding ways to inject themselves into the social graph so that they can connect in a more personal way with their customers and also make their web sites an extension of their customers' social experiences.

This week, we are pleased to have released the first milestone of Spring Social, a new extension to Spring that aims to provide a platform upon which social-ready Spring applications may be built. I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Spring Social and give you a taste of what it offers.

Securely Sharing Social Data

On the surface, developing applications that interact with the various social networks may appear straightforward. Since most of the social networks offer a REST API, Spring's RestTemplate would seem to be all you need. But you'll quickly discover that those social REST APIs are protected by OAuth and that signing a request sent through RestTemplate with OAuth credentials is a non-trivial task.

OAuth is an open protocol that enables a user to share their data hosted on one or more service providers with another application. With access to that data, the application can aggregate, present, and process the information in ways that provide additional value beyond what the service providers themselves ever intended or imagined.

Virtually all of the major service providers support OAuth, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TripIt, and Foursquare, as well as the Google and Yahoo APIs. Therefore, OAuth is essential to developing social-ready applications.

At the beginning of an OAuth-secured interaction is a back-and-forth conversation that is commonly known as the "OAuth Dance". In a typical OAuth Dance, there are three parties involved:

  • The service provider (such as Twitter or LinkedIn)
  • The user who wants to access or update data hosted by that service provider.
  • The consumer application that the user wants to share their data with.

The key steps in this dance are as follows:

  1. The consumer application directs the user to the service provider's site to sign in and authorize the consumer.
  2. Assuming that the user agrees to grant the consumer access to their data, the flow is sent back to the consumer application.
  3. The consumer application receives an access token from the service provider.

The access token received in step 3 is the "valet key" that must accompany any request to the service provider's REST API. In OAuth 1, this means that the access token, along with the request URL, parameters, and a few other bits of information are collected together in a base string, encrypted, and sent on the request in an Authorization header. Constructing this header and attaching it to the request is a complicated task. This is the reason that using RestTemplate to access OAuth-secured resources is difficult. If you get it wrong, the service provider will respond with an HTTP 401 for any resource you try to access and debugging the encrypted Authorization header is tricky.

Working with Social Templates

A key component of Spring Social is its collection of social templates. These templates (which leverage RestTemplate under the covers) expose operations of the service providers that they model, handling the intricacies of adding OAuth Authorization headers for you.

Spring Social 1.0.0.M1 includes 4 social templates to choose from:

  • TwitterTemplate
  • FacebookTemplate
  • LinkedInTemplate
  • TripItTemplate

To use any of these templates, simply create an instance of it, providing the OAuth connection details through constructor arguments. For example, to create an instance of TwitterTemplate:

TwitterTemplate twitter = new TwitterTemplate(apiKey, apiSecret, accessToken, accessTokenSecret);

The four parameters to TwitterTemplate's constructor are all Strings values. The API key and API secret are given to you when you register your application with Twitter (see http://dev.twitter.com/apps/new). The access token and access token secret are granted to your application on a per-user basis at the end of the OAuth Dance with Twitter. At this point, I'm going to assume that you've already obtained all four of these values; we'll circle back to how to manage API keys and tokens a little later.

Creating instances of the other social templates isn't much different. LinkedInTemplate and TripItTemplate each have constructors with the same argument list as the TwitterTemplate constructor shown above. Since Facebook's API security is based on OAuth 2, FacebookTemplate has a slightly simpler constructor that only requires the value of the access token:

FacebookTemplate facebook = new FacebookTemplate(accessToken);

Once you have an instance of one of these social templates, what can you do with it? If you're using TwitterTemplate, perhaps you want to know the authenticated user's Twitter screen name:

String screenName = twitter.getProfileId();

Or for something a bit more involved, maybe you could send a tweet on behalf of the user:

twitter.updateStatus("Hey, I'm tweeting with #Spring Social!");

Similarly, with a FacebookTemplate in hand, you can post to the user's wall:

facebook.updateStatus("Spring Social can also post to Facebook!");

And if you want to examine a user's upcoming travel itineraries, TripItTemplate's getTrips() can oblige:

List trips = tripIt.getTrips();
for(Trip trip : trips) {
    System.out.println("I'm traveling to " + trip.getPrimaryLocation() +
                                 " on " + trip.getStartDate());

This is just a sampling of the kinds of things you can do with Spring Social's templates. Check out the API documentation to see the other operations that are available.

Managing OAuth Connections

When I created the TwitterTemplate instance above, I glossed over where the API key/secret and the access token came from. Initially, the access token would be received after a user authorizes the application to access their data hosted on the service provider. But you probably don't want to force your users to perform authorization every time they use your application, so you'll need a way to store the access tokens long-term for reuse in future sessions.

In its first milestone release Spring Social doesn't provide an OAuth token management strategy, leaving it up to the application to obtain and manage OAuth details for itself. This is something that we intend to address for 1.0 Milestone 2. In the meantime, however, we can look to Greenhouse for an example of how this might take shape.

In Greenhouse, all of the information about a service provider is stored in a relational database in a ServiceProvider table with the following schema:

As you can see, the ServiceProvider table includes, among other things, the provider's API key and secret. To access an individual service provider record, Greenhouse uses JdbcServiceProviderFactory, an implementation of a ServiceProvider interface:

package com.springsource…

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