Registering JSON Web Services

Liferay’s developers use a tool called Service Builder to build services. When you build services with Service Builder, all remote-enabled services (i.e., service.xml entities with the property remote-service="true") are exposed as JSON web services. When each * interface is created for a remote-enabled service, the @JSONWebService annotation is added to that interface at the class level. All of the public methods of that interface become registered and available as JSON web services.

The * interface source file should never be modified by the user. If you need more control over its methods (e.g., if you need to hide some methods while exposing others), you can configure the *ServiceImpl class. When the service implementation class (*ServiceImpl) is annotated with the @JSONWebService annotation, the service interface is ignored and the service implementation class is used for configuration in its place. In other words, @JSONWebService annotations in the service implementation override any JSON web service configuration in the service interface.

That’s it! Liferay scans all OSGi bundles registered with the @Component annotation or in a *BundleActivator class for remote services. Each class that uses the @JSONWebService annotation is examined and its methods become exposed via the JSON web services API. As explained previously, the *ServiceImpl configuration overrides the *Service interface configuration during registration.

Next, you’ll see how you can register your application’s remote services as JSON web services. Keep in mind that Liferay uses this same mechanism. This is why Liferay’s remote services are exposed as JSON web services out-of-the-box.

Registering an App’s JSON Web Services

As an example, say you have an app named SupraSurf that has some services, and you decide to expose them as remote services. After enabling the remote-service attribute on its SurfBoard entity, you rebuild the services. Service Builder regenerates the SurfBoardService interface, adding the @JSONWebService annotation to it. This annotation tells Liferay that the interface’s public methods are to be exposed as JSON web services, making them a part of the app’s JSON API. Start up your Liferay instance if it isn’t running, and then deploy your app to Liferay.

To get some feedback from your Liferay instance on registering your application’s services, configure the instance to log the application’s informational messages (i.e., its INFO ... messages). See the tutorials on Liferay’s logging system for details.

To test Liferay’s JSON web service registration process, add a simple method to your app’s services. Edit your *ServiceImpl class and add the following method:

public String helloWorld(String worldName) {
    return "Hello world: " + worldName;

Rebuild the services and re-deploy your app’s modules. You can now invoke this service method via JSON. For instructions on doing this, see the JSON invocation tutorials listed in this section of tutorials.

This same mechanism registers Liferay’s own services. They’re conveniently enabled by default, so you don’t have to configure them.

Next, you’ll learn how to form a mapped URL for the remote service so you can access it.

Mapping and Naming Conventions

You can form the mapped URL of an exposed service by following the naming convention below:


Look at the last three bracketed items more closely:

  • context-name is the app’s context name (e.g., suprasurf in the previous example). Its value is specified via the json.web.service.context.path property in the @OSGiBeanProperties annotation. For example, for Liferay web content articles, Liferay’s JournalArticleService class includes the following annotation (among others):

      @OSGiBeanProperties(property =  {
          "", "json.web.service.context.path=JournalArticle"}, service = JournalArticleService.class)
  • service-class-name is generated from the service’s class name in lower case, minus its Service or ServiceImpl suffix. For example, specify surfboard as the app-context-name for the SurfBoardService class.

  • service-method-name is generated from the service’s method name by converting its camel case to lower case and using dashes (-) to separate words.

The following example demonstrates these naming conventions by mapping a service method’s URL using the naming conventions both on a custom service and on a Liferay service.

For the custom service method, the URL looks like:


Note the context name part of the URL. For Liferay, it’s similar. Here’s a Liferay service method:

public interface UserService {
    public com.liferay.portal.model.User getUserById(long userId) {...}

Here’s that Liferay service method’s URL:


Each service method is bound to one HTTP method type. Any method with a name starting with get, is, or has is assumed to be a read-only method and is mapped as a GET HTTP method by default. All other methods are mapped as POST HTTP methods.

Recall that you can see a list of your Liferay instance’s JSON web services at http://localhost:8080/api/jsonws. When you select a method on this page, the part of its HTTP method URL that follows http://[server]:[port]/api/jsonws is listed at the top of the screen.

Conveniently, remote service requests can leverage the authentication credentials associated with the user’s current Liferay session. Next, you’ll learn how to prevent a method from being exposed as a service.

Ignoring a Method

To keep a method from being exposed as a service, annotate the method with the following option:

@JSONWebService(mode = JSONWebServiceMode.IGNORE)

Methods with this annotation don’t become part of the JSON Web Service API. Next, you’ll learn how to define custom HTTP method and URL names.

HTTP Method and URL Names

At the method level, you can define custom HTTP method names and URL names. Just use an annotation like this one:

@JSONWebService(value = "add-board-wow", method = "PUT")
public boolean addBoard(

In this example, the application’s service method addBoard is mapped to URL method name add-board-wow. Its complete URL is now http://localhost:8080/api/jsonws/suprasurf.surfboard/add-board-wow and can be accessed using the HTTP PUT method.

If the URL method name in a JSON web service annotation starts with a slash character (/), only the method name is used to form the service URL; the class name is ignored:

public boolean addBoard(

Similarly, you can change the class name part of the URL, by setting the value in a class-level annotation:

public class SurfBoardServiceImpl extends SurfBoardServiceBaseImpl {

This maps all of the service’s methods to a URL class name sbs instead of the default class name surfboard.

Next, you’ll learn a different approach to exposing your methods via manual registration.

Manual Registration Mode

Up to now, it’s assumed that you want to expose most of your service methods, while hiding some specific methods (the blacklist approach). Sometimes, however, you want the opposite: to explicitly specify only the methods you want to expose (the whitelist approach). This is possible by specifying manual mode on the class-level annotation. Then it’s up to you to annotate only those methods you want to expose. For example:

@JSONWebService(mode = JSONWebServiceMode.MANUAL)
public class SurfBoardServiceImpl extends SurfBoardServiceBaseImpl{
    public boolean addBoard(

Now only the addBoard method and any other method annotated with @JSONWebService are part of the JSON Web Service API; all of this service’s other methods are excluded from the API.

Invoking JSON Web Services

JSON Web Services Invoker

JSON Web Services Invocation Examples

« Service Security LayersInvoking JSON Web Services »
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