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1. Overview

Jersey is an open-source framework for developing RESTFul Web Services.

As well as serving as the JAX-RS reference implementation it also includes a number of extensions to further simplify web application development.

In this tutorial, we’ll create a small example application that uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) extension offered by Jersey.

To learn how to create an API with Jersey, check out this write-up here.

2. MVC in Jersey

Jersey contains an extension to support the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern.

First of all, in the context of Jersey components, the Controller from the MVC pattern corresponds to a resource class or method.

Likewise, the View corresponds to a template bound to a resource class or method. Finally, the model represents a Java object returned from a resource method (Controller).

To use the capabilities of Jersey MVC in our application, we first need to register the MVC module extension that we wish to use.

In our example, we’re going to use the popular Java template engine Freemarker. This is one of the rendering engines supported by Jersey out of the box along with Mustache and standard Java Server Pages (JSP).

For more information about how MVC works, please refer to this tutorial.

3. Application Setup

In this section, we’ll start by configuring the necessary Maven dependencies in our pom.xml.

Then, we’ll take a look at how to configure and run our server using a simple embedded Grizzly server.

3.1. Maven Dependencies

Let’s start by adding the Jersey MVC Freemarker extension.

We can get the latest version from Maven Central:


We’re also going to need the Grizzly servlet container.

Again we can find the latest version in Maven Central:


3.2. Configuring the Server

To make use of the Jersey MVC templating support in our application we need to register the specific JAX-RS features provided by the MVC modules.

With this in mind, we define a custom resource configuration:

public class ViewApplicationConfig extends ResourceConfig {    
    public ViewApplicationConfig() {
        property(FreemarkerMvcFeature.TEMPLATE_BASE_PATH, "templates/freemarker");

In the above example we configure three items:

  • First, we use the packages method to tell Jersey to scan the com.baeldung.jersey.server package for classes annotated with @Path. This will register our FruitResource
  • Next, we configure the base path in order to resolve our templates. This tells Jersey to look in the /src/main/resources/templates/freemarker for Freemarker templates
  • Finally, we register the feature that handles the Freemarker rendering via the FreemarkerMvcFeature class

3.3. Running the Application

Now let’s look at how to run our web application. We’ll use the exec-maven-plugin to configure our pom.xml to execute our embedded web server:


Let’s now compile and run our application using Maven:

mvn clean compile exec:java
Jul 28, 2018 6:21:08 PM org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.HttpServer start
INFO: [HttpServer] Started.
Application started.
Try out http://localhost:8082/fruit
Stop the application using CTRL+C

Go to the browser URL – http://localhost:8080/fruit. Voila, the “Welcome Fruit Index Page!” is displayed.

4. MVC Templates

In Jersey, the MVC API consists of two classes to bind the model to the view namely Viewable and @Template

In this section we’ll explain three different ways of linking templates to our view:

  • Using the Viewable class
  • Using the @Template annotation
  • How to handle errors with MVC and pass them to a specific template

4.1. Using Viewable in a Resource Class

Let’s start by looking at Viewable:

public class FruitResource {
    public Viewable get() {
        return new Viewable("/index.ftl", "Fruit Index Page");

In this example, the FruitResource JAX-RS resource class is the controller. The Viewable instance encapsulates the referenced data model which is a simple String.

Furthermore, we also include a named reference to the associated view template – index.ftl.

4.2. Using @Template on a Resource Method

There’s no need to use Viewable every time we want to bind a model to a template.

In this next example, we’ll simply annotate our resource method with @Template:

@Template(name = "/all.ftl")
public Map<String, Object> getAllFruit() {
    List<Fruit> fruits = new ArrayList<>();
    fruits.add(new Fruit("banana", "yellow"));
    fruits.add(new Fruit("apple", "red"));
    fruits.add(new Fruit("kiwi", "green"));

    Map<String, Object> model = new HashMap<>();
    model.put("items", fruits);
    return model;

In this example, we’ve used the @Template annotation. This avoids wrapping our model directly in a template reference via Viewable and makes our resource method more readable.

The model is now represented by the return value of our annotated resource method – a Map<String, Object>. This is passed directly to the template all.ftl which simply displays our list of fruit.

4.3. Handling Errors with MVC

Now let’s take a look at how to handle errors using the @ErrorTemplate annotation:

@ErrorTemplate(name = "/error.ftl")
@Template(name = "/named.ftl")
public String getFruitByName(@PathParam("name") String name) {
    if (!"banana".equalsIgnoreCase(name)) {
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("Fruit not found: " + name);
    return name;

Generally speaking, the purpose of the @ErrorTemplate annotation is to bind the model to an error view. This error handler will take care of rendering the response when an exception is thrown during the processing of a request.

In our simple Fruit API example if no errors occur during processing then the named.ftl template is used to render the page. Otherwise, if an exception is raised then the error.ftl template is shown to the user.

In this case, the model is the thrown exception itself. This means from within our template we can call methods directly on the exception object.

Let’s take a quick look at a snippet from our error.ftl template to highlight this:

    <h1>Error - ${model.message}!</h1>

In our final example, we’ll take a look at a simple unit test:

public void givenGetFruitByName_whenFruitUnknown_thenErrorTemplateInvoked() {
    String response = target("/fruit/orange").request()
    assertThat(response, containsString("Error -  Fruit not found: orange!"));

In the above example, we use the response from our fruit resource. We check the response contains the message from the IllegalArgumentException that was thrown.

5. Conclusion

In this article, we’ve explored the Jersey framework MVC extension.

We started by introducing how MVC works in Jersey. Next, we took a look at how to configure, run and set up an example web application.

Finally, we looked at three ways of using MVC templates with Jersey and Freemarker and how to handle errors.

As always, the full source code of the article is available over on GitHub.

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