Accessing Business Information Simply As Files

In most cases, business information is stored in databases. To access it, there are two ways:

  • Database Level

    Using a vendor-dependend driver and JDBC or JPA, one needs to learn about the schema to find the desired information.

  • Application Level

    Using a proprietary API, like SAP iDOC, or RESTful / SOAP interfaces.

Both is hard work. The situation would be much improved, if business data could be accessed just like files. So why not doing it? No, not exporting data into files. Just accessing data as if they would be files. This is what "WebDAV Support for JAX-RS" actually provides: A "remote file-system" typed interface to your business data. Basing on the standard protocol "WebDAV", which can be accessed by any current operating system, a RESTful service will wrap any kind of back-end API to provide a fully functional, writeable view on your business data. Open customers stored in your CRM system as .vcards in Outlook -- without any client side plugin. Or run some complex analysis by just double-clicking a PDF link on your desktop. Just two examples, what people do with "WebDAV Support for JAX-RS".

What You Need To Know

We are just providing building blocks, not complete servers. You need to write your own server using JAX-RS. "WebDAV Support for JAX-RS" is an extension to the JAX-RS API. It adds Java classes (interfaces, annotations) and some basic functionality ontop of what each JAX-RS engine already can do. To access the backend, simply write Java code. Use JDBC, JPA, File API, proprietary API... whatever you like. There are no real limits like in "ready to use" servers (e. g. Milton) due to this. This approach is fully flexible, but certainly implies more to learn. So to simplify your start, check out the WebDAV Address-Book Example and read the (short!) source code. Note that some WebDAV clients are rather buggy... That's why we also provide "WebDAV Interoperability Filter". It cannot fix your local client, but it prevents changes in your service. So the services stays "clean", and the filter will detect a buggy client and try to fix communication failures on the fly. This is applied by the mentioned example, too.

How to get started?

  1. Get familiar with JAX-RS. This is essential as we build ontop of it. The Jersey website is a good starting point, but you certainly can use any other JAX-RS engine instead.
  2. Download the Address-Book example and read its source code.
  3. Modify the example according to your needs.

Where can I get help?

Discuss with other users on the Mailing List or request commercial support from our main sponsor, Head Crashing Informatics.

Building Bricks

This project is providing the following building bricks:

  • The JAX-RS Extension

    This is the work horse. Use this to rather easily wrap any back end data as WebDAV information. It is an extension to JAX-RS and is not dependent of any particular JAX-RS engine.

  • The Interoperability Filter

    If you want to access your WebDAV service (either written with WebDAV Support for JAX-RS or any other WebDAV front end) with one of Microsoft's clients, you'll need to tweak the WebDAV protocol, as Microsoft decided to modify it a bit. As nobody wants to implement those tweaks inside of the service itself, just apply this (Servlet API 2.5 compliant) filter. It will apply all tweaks on the fly, necessary to work with Microsoft's products right out of the box.

  • The Maven Archetype

    This is under construction. Sorry about that. If it would be finished, you could use Maven's archetype feature to get a jumpstart project structure. Instead, you can start by modifying the sample project.

  • The Address-Book Example

    This example is a complete project (built using Maven 3.0.3) showcasing the use of the JAX-RS Extension and the Interoperability Filter. It implements a simple address-book which is stored in an embedded Derby database (automatic setup thanks to Maven; no manual steps needed). The records are presented to WebDAV clients as ".adr" files, which in fact are XML data streams. The example is fully functional, which means, a client can read and write, create, delete and even search for addresses.

  • The File Server Example

    Another example provided by one of our users. It wraps a physical file system as a WebDAV resource, allowing turn any local file system into a remote file system.