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Course – LS (cat=REST) (INACTIVE)

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1. Overview

This article will focus on testing a REST Service with multiple Media Types/representations.

We will write integration tests capable of switching between the multiple types of Representations supported by the API. The goal is to be able to run the exact same test consuming the exact same URIs of the service, just asking for a different Media Type.

2. Goals

Any REST API needs to expose its Resources as representations using one or more Media Types. The client will set the Accept header to choose the type of representation it asks for from the service.

Since the Resource can have multiple representations, the server will have to implement a mechanism responsible for choosing the right representation. This is also known as Content Negotiation.

Thus, if the client asks for application/xml, then it should get an XML representation of the Resource. And if it asks for application/json, then it should get JSON.

3. Testing Infrastructure

We’ll begin by defining a simple interface for a marshaller. This will be the main abstraction that will allow the test to switch between different Media Types:

public interface IMarshaller {
    String getMime();

Then we need a way to initialize the right marshaller based on some form of external configuration.

For this, we’ll use a Spring FactoryBean to initialize the marshaller and a simple property to determine which marshaller to use:

public class TestMarshallerFactory implements FactoryBean<IMarshaller> {

    private Environment env;

    public IMarshaller getObject() {
        String testMime = env.getProperty("test.mime");
        if (testMime != null) {
            switch (testMime) {
            case "json":
                return new JacksonMarshaller();
            case "xml":
                return new XStreamMarshaller();
                throw new IllegalStateException();

        return new JacksonMarshaller();

    public Class<IMarshaller> getObjectType() {
        return IMarshaller.class;

    public boolean isSingleton() {
        return true;

Let’s look at this:

  • first, the new Environment abstraction introduced in Spring 3.1 is used here – for more on this check out the detailed article on using Properties with Spring
  • we retrieve the test.mime property from the environment and use it to determine which marshaller to create – some Java 7 switch on String syntax at work here
  • next, the default marshaller, in case the property isn’t defined at all, is going to be the Jackson marshaller for JSON support
  • finally – this BeanFactory is only active in a test scenario, as we’re using the @Profile support, also introduced in Spring 3.1

That’s it – the mechanism is able to switch between marshallers based on whatever the value of the test.mime property is.

4. The JSON and XML Marshallers

Moving on, we’ll need the actual marshaller implementation – one for each supported Media Type.

For JSON we’ll use Jackson as the underlying library:

public class JacksonMarshaller implements IMarshaller {
    private ObjectMapper objectMapper;

    public JacksonMarshaller() {
        objectMapper = new ObjectMapper();


    public String getMime() {
        return MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON.toString();

For the XML support, the marshaller uses XStream:

public class XStreamMarshaller implements IMarshaller {
    private XStream xstream;

    public XStreamMarshaller() {
        xstream = new XStream();


    public String getMime() {
        return MediaType.APPLICATION_XML.toString();

Note that these marshallers are not Spring beans themselves. The reason for that is they will be bootstrapped into the Spring context by the TestMarshallerFactory; there’s no need to make them components directly.

5. Consuming the Service With Both JSON and XML

At this point, we should be able to run a full integration test against the deployed service. Using the marshaller is straightforward: we’ll inject an IMarshaller into the test:

@ActiveProfiles({ "test" })
public abstract class SomeRestLiveTest {

    private IMarshaller marshaller;

    // tests


Spring will decide the exact marshaller to inject based on the value of the test.mime property.

If we don’t provide a value for this property, the TestMarshallerFactory will simply fall back on the default marshaller – the JSON marshaller.

6. Maven and Jenkins

If Maven is set up to run integration tests against an already deployed REST Service, then we can run it using:

mvn test -Dtest.mime=xml

Or, if this the build uses the integration-test phase of the Maven lifecycle:

mvn integration-test -Dtest.mime=xml

For more details on how to set up the Maven build to run integration tests, see the Integration Testing with Maven article.

With Jenkins, we must configure the job with:

This build is parametrized

And the String parameter: test.mime=xml added.

A common Jenkins configuration would be having to jobs running the same set of integration tests against the deployed service – one with XML and the other with JSON representations.

7. Conclusion

This article showed how to test a REST API that works with multiple representations. Most APIs do publish their Resources under multiple Representations, so testing all of these is vital. The fact that we can use the exact same tests across all of them is just cool.

The full implementation of this mechanism – using actual integration tests and verifying both the XML and JSON representations – can be found in the GitHub project.

Course – LS (cat=Spring)

Get started with Spring and Spring Boot, through the Learn Spring course:

Course – LS (cat=REST)

Get started with Spring and Spring Boot, through the Learn Spring course :

res – REST (eBook) (cat=REST)
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