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Part 4


This section is about regular Camel. The examples presented here in this section is much more in common of all the examples we have in the Camel documentation.

If you have been reading the previous 3 parts then, this quote applies:

you must unlearn what you have learned
Master Yoda, Star Wars IV

So we start all over again! (wink)


Camel is particular strong as a light-weight and agile routing and mediation framework. In this part we will introduce the routing concept and how we can introduce this into our solution.
Looking back at the figure from the Introduction page we want to implement this routing. Camel has support for expressing this routing logic using Java as a DSL (Domain Specific Language). In fact Camel also has DSL for XML and Scala. In this part we use the Java DSL as its the most powerful and all developers know Java. Later we will introduce the XML version that is very well integrated with Spring.

Before we jump into it, we want to state that this tutorial is about Developers not loosing control. In my humble experience one of the key fears of developers is that they are forced into a tool/framework where they loose control and/or power, and the possible is now impossible. So in this part we stay clear with this vision and our starting point is as follows:

  • We have generated the webservice source code using the CXF wsdl2java generator and we have our file where we as a Developer feels home and have the power.

So the starting point is:

Yes we have a simple plain Java class where we have the implementation of the webservice. The cursor is blinking at the WE ARE HERE block and this is where we feel home. More or less any Java Developers have implemented webservices using a stack such as: Apache AXIS, Apache CXF or some other quite popular framework. They all allow the developer to be in control and implement the code logic as plain Java code. Camel of course doesn't enforce this to be any different. Okay the boss told us to implement the solution from the figure in the Introduction page and we are now ready to code.


RouteBuilder is the hearth in Camel of the Java DSL routing. This class does all the heavy lifting of supporting EIP verbs for end-users to express the routing. It does take a little while to get settled and used to, but when you have worked with it for a while you will enjoy its power and realize it is in fact a little language inside Java itself. Camel is the only integration framework we are aware of that has Java DSL, all the others are usually only XML based.

As an end-user you usually use the RouteBuilder as of follows:

  • create your own Route class that extends RouteBuilder
  • implement your routing DSL in the configure method

So we create a new class ReportIncidentRoutes and implement the first part of the routing:

What to notice here is the configure method. Here is where all the action is. Here we have the Java DSL langauge, that is expressed using the fluent builder syntax that is also known from Hibernate when you build the dynamic queries etc. What you do is that you can stack methods separating with the dot.

In the example above we have a very common routing, that can be distilled from pseudo verbs to actual code with:

  • from A to B
  • From Endpoint A To Endpoint B
  • from("endpointA").to("endpointB")
  • from("direct:start").to("velocity:MailBody.vm");

from("direct:start") is the consumer that is kick-starting our routing flow. It will wait for messages to arrive on the direct queue and then dispatch the message.
to("velocity:MailBody.vm") is the producer that will receive a message and let Velocity generate the mail body response.

So what we have implemented so far with our ReportIncidentRoutes RouteBuilder is this part of the picture:

Adding the RouteBuilder

Now we have our RouteBuilder we need to add/connect it to our CamelContext that is the hearth of Camel. So turning back to our webservice implementation class ReportIncidentEndpointImpl we add this constructor to the code, to create the CamelContext and add the routes from our route builder and finally to start it.

Okay how do you use the routes then? Well its just as before we use a ProducerTemplate to send messages to Endpoints, so we just send to the direct:start endpoint and it will take it from there.
So we implement the logic in our webservice operation:

Notice that we get the producer template using the createProducerTemplate method on the CamelContext. Then we send the input parameters to the direct:start endpoint and it will route it to the velocity endpoint that will generate the mail body. Since we use direct as the consumer endpoint (=from) and its a synchronous exchange we will get the response back from the route. And the response is of course the output from the velocity endpoint.

About creating ProducerTemplate

In the example above we create a new ProducerTemplate when the reportIncident method is invoked. However in reality you should only create the template once and re-use it. See this FAQ entry.

We have now completed this part of the picture:

Unit testing

Now is the time we would like to unit test what we got now. So we call for camel and its great test kit. For this to work we need to add it to the pom.xml

After adding it to the pom.xml you should refresh your Java Editor so it pickups the new jar. Then we are ready to create out unit test class.
We create this unit test skeleton, where we extend this class ContextTestSupport

ContextTestSupport is a supporting unit test class for much easier unit testing with Apache Camel. The class is extending JUnit TestCase itself so you get all its glory. What we need to do now is to somehow tell this unit test class that it should use our route builder as this is the one we gonna test. So we do this by implementing the createRouteBuilder method.

That is easy just return an instance of our route builder and this unit test will use our routes.

It is quite common in Camel itself to unit test using routes defined as an anonymous inner class, such as illustrated below:

The same technique is of course also possible for end-users of Camel to create parts of your routes and test them separately in many test classes.
However in this tutorial we test the real route that is to be used for production, so we just return an instance of the real one.

We then code our unit test method that sends a message to the route and assert that its transformed to the mail body using the Velocity template.

Adding the File Backup

The next piece of puzzle that is missing is to store the mail body as a backup file. So we turn back to our route and the EIP patterns. We use the Pipes and Filters pattern here to chain the routing as:

Notice that we just add a 2nd .to on the newline. Camel will default use the Pipes and Filters pattern here when there are multi endpoints chained liked this. We could have used the pipeline verb to let out stand out that its the Pipes and Filters pattern such as:

But most people are using the multi .to style instead.

We re-run out unit test and verifies that it still passes:

But hey we have added the file producer endpoint and thus a file should also be created as the backup file. If we look in the target/subfolder we can see that something happened.
On my humble laptop it created this folder: target\subfolder\ID-claus-acer. So the file producer create a sub folder named ID-claus-acer what is this? Well Camel auto generates an unique filename based on the unique message id if not given instructions to use a fixed filename. In fact it creates another sub folder and name the file as: target\subfolder\ID-claus-acer\3750-1219148558921\1-0 where 1-0 is the file with the mail body. What we want is to use our own filename instead of this auto generated filename. This is archived by adding a header to the message with the filename to use. So we need to add this to our route and compute the filename based on the message content.

Setting the filename

For starters we show the simple solution and build from there. We start by setting a constant filename, just to verify that we are on the right path, to instruct the file producer what filename to use. The file producer uses a special header FileComponent.HEADER_FILE_NAME to set the filename.

What we do is to send the header when we "kick-start" the routing as the header will be propagated from the direct queue to the file producer. What we need to do is to use the ProducerTemplate.sendBodyAndHeader method that takes both a body and a header. So we change out webservice code to include the filename also:

However we could also have used the route builder itself to configure the constant filename as shown below:

But Camel can be smarter and we want to dynamic set the filename based on some of the input parameters, how can we do this?
Well the obvious solution is to compute and set the filename from the webservice implementation, but then the webservice implementation has such logic and we want this decoupled, so we could create our own POJO bean that has a method to compute the filename. We could then instruct the routing to invoke this method to get the computed filename. This is a string feature in Camel, its Bean binding. So lets show how this can be done:

Using Bean Language to compute the filename

First we create our plain java class that computes the filename, and it has 100% no dependencies to Camel what so ever.

The class is very simple and we could easily create unit tests for it to verify that it works as expected. So what we want now is to let Camel invoke this class and its generateFilename with the input parameters and use the output as the filename. Pheeeww is this really possible out-of-the-box in Camel? Yes it is. So lets get on with the show. We have the code that computes the filename, we just need to call it from our route using the Bean Language:

Notice that we use the bean language where we supply the class with our bean to invoke. Camel will instantiate an instance of the class and invoke the suited method. For completeness and ease of code readability we add the method name as the 2nd parameter

Then other developers can understand what the parameter is, instead of null.

Now we have a nice solution, but as a sidetrack I want to demonstrate the Camel has other languages out-of-the-box, and that scripting language is a first class citizen in Camel where it etc. can be used in content based routing. However we want it to be used for the filename generation.

Using a script language to set the filename

We could do as in the previous parts where we send the computed filename as a message header when we "kick-start" the route. But we want to learn new stuff so we look for a different solution using some of Camels many Languages. As OGNL is a favorite language of mine (used by WebWork) so we pick this baby for a Camel ride. For starters we must add it to our pom.xml:

And remember to refresh your editor so you got the new .jars.
We want to construct the filename based on this syntax: mail-incident-#ID#.txt where #ID# is the incident id from the input parameters. As OGNL is a language that can invoke methods on bean we can invoke the getIncidentId() on the message body and then concat it with the fixed pre and postfix strings.

In OGNL glory this is done as:

where request.body.incidentId computes to:

  • request is the IN message. See the OGNL for other predefined objects available
  • body is the body of the in message
  • incidentId will invoke the getIncidentId() method on the body.
    The rest is just more or less regular plain code where we can concat strings.

Now we got the expression to dynamic compute the filename on the fly we need to set it on our route so we turn back to our route, where we can add the OGNL expression:

And since we are on Java 1.5 we can use the static import of ognl so we have:

Notice the import static also applies for all the other languages, such as the Bean Language we used previously.

Whatever worked for you we have now implemented the backup of the data files:

Sending the email

What we need to do before the solution is completed is to actually send the email with the mail body we generated and stored as a file. In the previous part we did this with a File consumer, that we manually added to the CamelContext. We can do this quite easily with the routing.

The last 3 lines of code does all this. It adds a file consumer from("file://target/subfolder"), sets the mail subject, and finally send it as an email.

The DSL is really powerful where you can express your routing integration logic.
So we completed the last piece in the picture puzzle with just 3 lines of code.

We have now completed the integration:


We have just briefly touched the routing in Camel and shown how to implement them using the fluent builder syntax in Java. There is much more to the routing in Camel than shown here, but we are learning step by step. We continue in part 5. See you there.

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  1. Please fix spelling and grammar.