Custom annotation configuration for Spring Remoting, part two

June 13, 2009

In my first attempt at SPR-3926, I ended up with a @Service annotation which was wholly separate from Spring's existing @Service annotation, and required either a confusing coexistence or an inappropriate integration of the two. It also required implementations of service interfaces to be annotated as Spring Remoting services, which is arguably less intuitive than annotating the service interfaces themselves as Spring Remoting services.

After some very helpful advice from Chris Beams, I have reworked most of the original code. To avoid stepping all over the intended function of the existing @Service annotation, I created the @Remote annotation:

@Target({ ElementType.TYPE })
public @interface Remote {

    Class<?> serviceExporter() default HttpInvokerServiceExporter.class;

To use the new annotation, a service interface is annotated with @Remote, optionally specifying serviceExporter. The optional serviceExporter may be any of the HttpInvokerServiceExporterRmiServiceExporter, HessianServiceExporter, or BurlapServiceExporter classes, and defaults to HttpInvokerServiceExporter if not specified. The reason I chose to allow direct specification of the RemoteExporter class as the serviceExporter is so future implementations of remoting technologies (JSON, etc.) will be supported without modification to the @Remote definition. The alternative to this is to maintain the previous pattern of an enumerated type which is later mapped to corresponding RemoteExporter implementations.

An implementation of the service interface then simply needs to be annotated with @Service, so it will be picked up by <context:component-scan /> during application context initialization.

A new element definition named remote-export is needed in spring-context-3.1.xsd, which is used by adding <context:remote-export /> to the context configuration:

<xsd:element name="remote-export">
  Exports classes whose interfaces have been annotated with @Remote as Spring Remoting services.

To handle the new remote-export element, I created RemoteBeanDefinitionParser and added it to ContextNamespaceHandler.init():

public void init() {
    registerBeanDefinitionParser("remote-export", new RemoteBeanDefinitionParser());
public BeanDefinition parse(Element element, ParserContext parserContext) {
    RootBeanDefinition bd = new RootBeanDefinition(RemotingExporter.class);
    parserContext.registerBeanComponent(new BeanComponentDefinition(bd, RemotingExporter.class.getName()));
    return null;

RemoteBeanDefinitionParser registers a RemotingExporter, which looks for @Remote beans in the context, and wires them up with the appropriate service exporters:

public class RemotingExporter implements BeanFactoryPostProcessor {

    public void postProcessBeanFactory(ConfigurableListableBeanFactory beanFactory) throws BeansException {
        for (String beanName : beanFactory.getBeanDefinitionNames()) {
            Object bean = beanFactory.getBean(beanName);
            Class<?> serviceInterface = findServiceInterface(bean);
            if (serviceInterface != null) {
                RemoteExporter remoteExporter = createRemoteExporter(serviceInterface, bean);
                beanFactory.registerSingleton("/" + serviceInterface.getName(), remoteExporter);

    private Class<?> findServiceInterface(Object service) {
        Class<?> serviceInterface = null;
        if (AnnotationUtils.isAnnotationDeclaredLocally(Service.class, service.getClass())) {
            for (Class<?> interfaceClass : service.getClass().getInterfaces()) {
                if (AnnotationUtils.isAnnotationDeclaredLocally(Remote.class, interfaceClass)) {
                    serviceInterface = interfaceClass;
        return serviceInterface;

    private RemoteExporter createRemoteExporter(Class<?> serviceInterface, Object service) {
        RemoteExporter remoteExporter = null;
        Remote remote = AnnotationUtils.findAnnotation(service.getClass(), Remote.class);
        try {
            remoteExporter = (RemoteExporter) remote.serviceExporter().newInstance();
            if (remoteExporter instanceof RmiServiceExporter) {
                ((RmiServiceExporter) remoteExporter).setServiceName(serviceInterface.getName());
            if (remoteExporter instanceof InitializingBean) {
                ((InitializingBean) remoteExporter).afterPropertiesSet();
        } catch (Exception e) {
        return remoteExporter;

In short, a class which implements a @Remote-annotated interface may be instantiated and exposed as a Spring Remoting service by including only two lines in the context configuration:

<context:remote-export />
<context:component-scan base-package="" />

There are trade-offs in both this and my previous method, but with the architectural improvements here it would be hard to argue going back.