Building RESTful Web Services with JAX-RS – Annotations

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Let’s take a look at annotations that are used to build RESTful services. Based on the implementation framework that you are using, there might be many annotations. In this post we will discuss annotations that are supported by JAX-RS specs only.


  • @Path annotation identifies URI Path template
  • Can be used at class or method level.
  • Always specifies relative url to base url (host)
  • @Path value need not have leading or tailing slashes (/). JAX-RS treats them them the same either ways
  • Variables can be specified in @path as follows 
    • Multiple Variables can be specified. Eg @Path(“/users/{username_1}/{username_2}”)


//Variable in path is specified by {}
public class UserResource {

    //variable specified in @Path can be accessed by @PathParam
    public String getUser(@PathParam("userName") String userName) {

Request Method Designator Annotations (@GET, @POST, @PUT, @DELETE and @HEAD):

  • @GET – The Java method annotated with this will process HTTP GET requests.
  • @POST – The Java method annotated with this will process HTTP POST requests.
  • @PUT – The Java method annotated with this will process HTTP PUT requests.
  • @DELETE – The Java method annotated with this will process HTTP DELETE requests.
  • @HEAD – The Java method annotated with this will process HTTP HEAD requests.

Few logistics that should be followed to use JAX-RS for request methods designator annotations are as follows

  • Methods decorated with request method designators must return following:
    • void
    • A Java programming language type
    • A Object.
  • Multiple parameters may be extracted from the URI using @PathParam or @QueryParam (Explained below).
  • The HTTP PUT and POST methods expect an HTTP request body.
  • Both @PUT and @POST can be used to create or update a resource.
  • POST can mean anything, so any semantics can be used. PUT has well defined semantics.When using PUT for creation, the client declares the URI for the newly created resource.
  • A common pattern is to use POST to create a resource and return a 201 response with a location header value is the URI to the newly created resource. In this pattern, the web service declares the URI for the newly created resource.

@Consumes and @Produces

@Produces annotation is used to specify the MIME media type that are sent back to client.

  • If specified on class level, all methods will follow it.
  • One can override class level by specifying this on method level.
  • If no methods in a resource are able to produce the MIME type in a client request, then JAX-RS runtime sends back an HTTP ‘406 Not Acceptable’ error.
  • Multiple MIME-types can be specified as follows
      • @Produces({“image/jpeg,image/png”})



public class SomeResource {
    public String doGetAsPlainText() {

    @Produces("text/html") //overides class level
    public String doGetAsHtml() {

@Consumes represents the media types a resource  can accept.

  • If specified on class level, all methods will follow it.
  • One can override class level by specifying this on method level.
  • If a resource is unable to consume the MIME type of a client request, the JAX-RS runtime sends back an HTTP “415 (‘Unsupported Media Type’)” error.
  • If @consumes is used on method that returns ‘void’ then HTTP 204 (‘No Content’) error is returned.

    @POST@Consumes(“text/plain”)public void postClichedMessage(String message) {    // Store the message }

public class SomeResource {
    public String doPost(MimeMultipart mimeMultipartData) {

    public String doPost2(FormURLEncodedProperties formData) {


Request Parameters (@QueryParam, @PathParam, @DefaultValue, @MatrixParam, @HeaderParam, @CookieParam, @FormParam)

Both @QueryParam and @PathParam can be used only on following Java types:

  • All primitive types except char.
  • All wrapper classes of primitive types except Character
  • Any class with a constructor that accepts a single String argument.
  • Any class with static method named valueOf (String) that accepst a single String argument
  • List<T>, Set<T> or SortedSet<T>, where T matches the already listed criteria.


public Response smooth(
        @DefaultValue(&quot;4&quot;) @QueryParam(&quot;number&quot;) int colorNumber,
        @DefaultValue(&quot;red&quot;) @QueryParam(&quot;last-color&quot;) String color
        ) { ... }


Step by Step guide- Hello World REST Service

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This post is a step by step guide for a Hello world REST Service using JAX-RS. I am using Eclipse (Mars Edition) and Apache Tomcat for this tutorial. Also I am using Maven for build automation. If you are beginner or  if you have not yet configured your workspace then I recommend these links before reading any further.

Apache Wink is used for JAX-RS implementation for this tutorial.

Step 1: Create a new Dynamic Web Application

Create a new dynamic web application (named HelloWorldRest for this tutorial). Also convert the project into ‘Maven Project’ (This is an optional step if you are planning to use Maven).

Step 2: Update dependencies for Apache Wink

Add these dependencies to pom.xml


If you are not using Maven then download the following jar version into WEB-INF/lib folder.

activation.jar -> 1.1 Version
commons-lang.jar -> 2.3 Version
geronimo annotation_1.1_spec.jar -> 1.0 Version
geronimo-jaxrs_1.1_spec.jar -> 1.0 Version
jaxb-api.jar -> 2.2 Version
jaxb-impl.jar -> Version
slf4j-api.jar -> 1.6.1 Version
stax-api.jar -> 1.0-2 Version
wink-common.jar -> 1.4 Version
wink-server.jar -> 1.4 Version

Step -3: Add code for REST Service

Add below code for HelloWorldResource


package com.test.helloworld.resource;


public class HelloWorldResource {

	 public String getMessage() {
		System.out.println(&quot;Returning Message&quot;);
		return &quot;Hello World!&quot;;

Add below code for HelloWorldApplication


package com.test.helloworld;

import java.util.HashSet;
import java.util.Set;


import com.test.helloworld.resource.HelloWorldResource;

public class HelloWorldApplication extends Application{

	 public Set&lt;Class&lt;?&gt;&gt; getClasses() {
		 Set&lt;Class&lt;?&gt;&gt; classes = new HashSet&lt;Class&lt;?&gt;&gt;();
		 return classes;

Add below entries to web.xml


Step-4: Test HelloWorld REST Service


Step by Step guide to configure Eclipse and Apache Tomcat

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Eclipse is a very commonly used IDE by developers across the globe. Eclipse with Apache Tomcat server is a great combination for beginners and for experienced web developers.

This post will provide step-by-step guidance to set up Eclipse with Tomcat Server.

Note: Below screen shots are for windows 64-bit version. Please act accordingly for 32-bit versions.

Step-1: Download Java.

Click Here to download Java 7 SDK.


You will see that there are two folder created in your C:\Program files\Java. (In my case I already had Java 6 installed too).


Step-2: Download Apache Tomcat Server

Click Here to download Apache Tomcat Server 7.


Once dowloaded, extract the server to D:\Software. You will see following structure after the extract is complete.


Note: you can also choose to install from 32-bit/64-bit Windows Service Installer if you want to install it like a service.

Step-3: Configure Environment Variables

Configure following environment variables and restart your pc when done.

  • JAVA_HOME: “C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_79”java_home_environment_variable
  • JRE_HOME: “C:\Program Files\Java\jre7”jre_home_environment_variable
  • CATALINA_HOME: “D:\Software\apache-tomcat-7.0.67”catalina_home_environment_variable


Step-4: Download Eclipse

Click Here to download Eclipse. For this guide, I am downloading Eclipse Mars. But you can download anything that is compatible with Java version you downloaded.


Once downloaded extract contents to D:\Software.  You will see following structure after download is complete.



Step 5: Setup Server Configuration in Eclipse

Open Eclipse and Open Server View (Window -> Show View -> Servers)

Right Click New -> Server


Select Tomcat 7. You might have to Add Server runtime environment.


(Dialog when clicked on ‘Add…’ in above screen shot)


Click on Finish when Done.

Double click on Server to open deployment descriptor and make sure that you have default ports.


Now start the server by clicking on start button and you will see that server has started successfully.



Hope this Set up process was helpful. Please use the comment section if you face any issues setting up and I will help  you as soon as I can.