Creating a Java REST API with Jersey (Including Code Example)

In our latest development cycle we’ve been working on creating an official API to manage and control AetherStore. As part of this process I’ve been experimenting with Jersey 2, the Java reference implementation for JAX-RS, the Java API for RESTful Web Services.

This post discusses an example API using Jersey. The example is itself fairly well commented, explaining why certain pieces of code are needed, and how they relate to the project. This post covers the structure of the project and discusses some of its more interesting features.

The example is of an API representing a set, which allows:

  • Strings to be added as part of a GET request parameter
  • Strings to be added as part of a PUT request body.
  • The set of all strings stored to be returned.

If you’re using Jersey, it’s important to note that a lot of examples online use Jersey v1, which causes problems because this version of Jersey uses an entirely different namespace — v1 uses com.sun.jersey, whereas v2 uses org.glassfish.jersey, and a number of classes are either named differently, or are in different sub-packages.

The code on GitHub should work straight out of the box if you’re using Eclipse for Java EE.

Areas Covered

The code is useful if you’re interested in one of the following features in relation to jersey:

  • Running in eclipse.
  • Setting up appropriate Jersey Maven dependencies.
  • Setting up your web.xml to work with Jersey.
  • Creating a basic API.
  • Using JSON to wrap requests and responses.
  • Using an exception mapper for more readable error handling.
  • Injecting dependencies into resource classes (the API classes).
  • Unit testing Jersey.
  • Mocking calls used by our Jersey API.
  • Unmarshalling responses from a Jersey API.

Reading the Code

This section describes how the code is structured at a high level. There are some comments on specific lines of code, but I’d recommend looking at the comments in the code for a closer look at individual features.


At the core of a Jersey application is the pom.xml file, which specifies all of the dependencies in the code — including Jersey itself — and the versions being used. If you’re using another example, it’s important to note the version of Jersey you’re using. Here we are using Jersey 2.6:


The web.xml file specifies how your servlet is named, and where the main Jersey Application class is. This Application class is used to start your Jersey servlet.



In this example our application class is called SetApplication. It registers bindings for a few classes, which we’ll discuss later. At this point the most relevant call to our application is:

packages(true, "com.aetherworks.example.jersey2.api");

This tells the servlet container where to look for the resource classes that form the API. In this case our resource class is called SetResource.

SetResource (API) Class

To recap, this project implements an API which supports two calls to add a string to a set (/set/add/<value> and /set/add), and a single call to get all entries in the set (/set/get). The class definition for this class annotated (shown below), to set the base path of the API call to be /set:

public class SetResource {

Then the methods in this class are further annotated to describe the API calls under this path. For example, the following code is executed when a /set/add/{value} request is made.

public Response addSingle(@Context final UriInfo headers, @PathParam("value") final String value) throws InvalidRequestException {
	LOGGER.log(Level.INFO, "Call to " + headers.getPath());
	final boolean added = callHandler.add(value);
	return Response.status(Response.Status.OK).entity(added).build();

The full call to this method will be /set/add/{value}, where value is a variable that is mapped to the value parameter of the method as a result of the @PathParam annotation. We want the call to consume and produce a JSON response, so we specify this in the @Produces annotation. The marshalling to JSON is handled automatically, but we have to specify the marshaller dependency in the pom.xml file, as follows:


There are two methods which include the /add path, but they accept different numbers of inputs so there is no conflict. The class also contains an @Inject annotation, which tells the container to inject a dependency into the callHandler field. If we look back at the SetApplication class, we can see that this value is injected by registering it with the application through the register() call:

register(new AbstractBinder() {
	protected void configure() {

Unit Tests

I’ve written two unit test classes. One, SetApiTests provides what are essentially end-to-end integration tests, which call the API and check that its operations perform as expected. The second, MockedSetApiTests provides an example of using mocking to test just the API calls themselves. Both test classes extend JerseyTest, which handles the heavy lifting of setting up a servlet container and providing the API. To run correctly, JerseyTest requires a test framework provider, which is the servlet container used to run the test. In this example I’ve used the jetty container, where the dependency is specified in the pom.xml class with the following code:


In the MockedSetApiTests class, the SetCallHandler, which manages the logic behind the API call (and is injected), is mocked out:

protected Application configure() {
	setCallHandler = Mockito.mock(SetCallHandler.class);
	return new SetApplication(setCallHandler);

The configure call is required by JerseyTest to properly configure the application, which in this case requires us to pass the mocked dependency so that it can be injected into the SetResource. In the tests themselves, the call to the API is relatively simple:

public void mockedAddCall() throws InvalidRequestException {
	final String value = "MyTest1";
	final boolean returnValue = true;

	final Response responseWrapper = target("set/add/" + value).request(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON_TYPE).get();

	assertEquals(Response.Status.OK.getStatusCode(), responseWrapper.getStatus());
	assertEquals(returnValue, responseWrapper.readEntity(BOOLEAN_RETURN_TYPE));

This makes the API call and returns the result (whether it is a success or failure to the responseWrapper). This can then be queried to establish whether the call was successful (by getting the HTTP response code):

assertEquals(Response.Status.OK.getStatusCode(), responseWrapper.getStatus());

If successful, we can then obtain the returned value:

assertEquals(returnValue, responseWrapper.readEntity(new GenericType<Boolean>() {}));

The test addMultipleSingleCall shows an example of an API request with a message body (in this case a set of Strings), also showing how to package up this request parameter in the test:

public void addMultipleSingleCall() throws InvalidRequestException {
	final Set<String> valuesToStore = new HashSet<String>(Arrays.asList("a", "n", "g", "u", "s", "m", "a", "c"));

	final Entity<Set<String>> requestBody = Entity.entity(valuesToStore, MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON_TYPE);

	checkGetCallResponse(performGetCall(), valuesToStore);

The examples in this post don’t include any parameters that are non-standard Java types, but doing so is relatively simple. By default only the public fields in the class are serialized, and a default constructor is required, but the class doesn’t have to implement serializable.

How To Run

To run this example in Eclipse for Java EE:

  1. Download / clone the code from GitHub.
  2. In Eclispe, go to File -> New -> Java Project
  3. Untick ‘Use default location‘ and navigate to the path of the jersey2-example repository.
  4. Re-tick the ‘Use default location‘ option, which sets up the project name as jersey2-example.
  5. Click finish to create the project.
  6. To run, either run the unit tests in JUnit, or right-click on the project and select Run as -> Run on Server.

If you want to create your own eclipse project, you can follow this example, but note that this is for Jersey v1, so you need to adjust the options used in steps 3 and 5 (i’d compare them to the example in my GitHub repo).

To run standalone (the previous steps are required):

  1. Right-click on the project, Export -> WAR File.
  2. Set the location to store the WAR file, and change the specified server runtime if necessary.
  3. Run the WAR in your favorite application server, or standalone with Jetty Runner.

Additional Resources

The following links are resources I found useful in writing this example. Where the examples refer to v1 of Jersey I’ve said so — examples are included because some part of them is useful, but be careful to note places where v1 specific code is used. This includes anywhere where a com.sun.jersey namespace is used.