Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

Web Services Example - Part 2: Programmatic

In this edition of the ADF Mobile blog we'll tackle part 2 of our Web Service examples.  In this posting we'll take a look at using a SOAP Web Service but calling it programmatically in code and parsing the return into a bean.

Getting the sample code:

Just click here to download a zip of the entire project.  You can unzip it and load it into JDeveloper and deploy it either to iOS or Android.  Please follow the previous blog posts if you need help getting JDeveloper or ADF Mobile installed.  Note: This is a different workspace than WS-Part1

Defining our Web Service:

Just like our first installment, we are using the same public weather forecast web service provided free by CDYNE Corporation.  Sometimes this service goes down so please ensure you know it's up before reporting this example isn't working.

We're going to concentrate on the same two web service methods, GetCityForecastByZIP and GetWeatherInformation.

Defing the Application:

The application setup is identical to the Weather1 version.  There are some improvements to the data that is displayed as part of this example though.  Now we are able to show the associated image along with each forecast line when using the Forecast By Zip feature.  We've also added the temperature Hi/Low values into the UI.

Summary of Fundamental Changes In This Application

The most fundamental change is that we're binding the UI to the Bean Data Controls instead of directly to the Web Service Data Controls.  This gives us much more flexibility to control the shape of the data and allows us to do caching of the data outside of the Web Service.  This way if your application is, say offline, your bean could still populate with data from a local cache and still show you some UI as opposed to completely failing because you don't have any connectivity. In general we promote this type of programming technique with ADF Mobile to insulate your application from any issues with network connectivity.

What's different with this example?

We have setup the Web Service DC the same way but now we have managed beans to process the data.  The following classes define the "Model" of our application:  CityInformation->CityForecast->Forecast, WeatherInformation->WeatherDescription.  We use WeatherBean for UI interaction to the model layer.  If you look through this example, we don't really do that much with the java code except use it to grab the image URL from the weather description.  In a more realistic example, you might be using some JDBC classes to persist the data to a local database.

To have a good architecture it is always good to keep your model and UI layers separate.  This gets muddied if you start to use bindings on a page invoked from Java code and this java code starts to become your "model" layer.  Since bindings are page specific, your model layer starts to become entwined with your UI.  Not good!  To help with this, we've added some utility functions that let you invoke DC methods without having a binding and thus execute methods from your "model" layer without requiring a binding in your page definition.  We do this with the invokeDataControlMethod of the AdfmfJavaUtilities class.  An example of this method call is available in line 95 of WeatherInformation.java and line 93 of CityInformation.Java.

What's a GenericType?

Because Web Service Data Controls (and also URL Data Controls AKA REST) use generic name/value pairs to define their structure and don't have strongly typed objects, these are actually stored internally as GenericType objects.  The GenericType class is simply a property map of name/value pairs that can be hierarchical.  There are methods like getAttribute where you supply the index of the attribute or it's string property name.  Why is this important to know?  Because invokeDataControlMethod returns GenericType objects and developers either need to parse these GenericType objects themselves or use one of our helper functions.


This class does exactly what it's name implies.  It's a helper class for developers to aid in serialization of GenericTypes to/from java objects.  This is extremely handy if you have a large GenericType object with many attributes (or you're just lazy like me!) and you just want to parse it out into a real java object you can use more easily.  Here you would use the fromGenericType method.  This method takes the class of the Java object you wish to return and the GenericType as parameters.  The method then parses through each attribute in the GenericType and uses reflection to set that same attribute in the Java class.  Then the method returns that new object of the class you specified.  This is obviously very handy to avoid a lot of shuffling code between GenericType and your own Java classes.  The reverse method, toGenericType is also available when you want to go the other way.  In this case you supply the string that represents the package location in the DataControl definition (Example: "MyDC.myParams.MyCollection") and then pass in the Java object you have that holds the data and a GenericType is returned to you.  Again, it will use reflection to calculate the attributes that match between the java class and the GenericType and call the getters/setters on those.

Issues and Possible Improvements:

In the next installment we'll show you how to make your web service calls asynchronously so your UI will fill dynamically when the service call returns but in the meantime you show the data you have locally in your bean fed from some local cache.  This gives your users instant delivery of some data while you fetch other data in the background.

Friday Nov 02, 2012

Web Services Example - Part 1: Declarative

In this edition of the ADF Mobile blog we'll tackle part 1 of our Web Service examples. In this posting we'll take a look at using a declarative SOAP Web Service.

Getting the sample code:

Just click here to download a zip of the entire project. You can unzip it and load it into JDeveloper and deploy it either to iOS or Android. Please follow the previous blog posts if you need help getting JDeveloper or ADF Mobile installed.

Defining our Web Service:

First off, we should mention that this sample code is using a public web service provided free by CDYNE Corporation that provides weather forecasts by zipcode. Sometimes this service goes down so please ensure you know it's up before reporting this example isn't working.

Let's take a look at the web service.  We created this by using the "Web Service Data Control" from the New Gallery and using this link to this wsdl:  "http://wsf.cdyne.com/WeatherWS/Weather.asmx?WSDL"   This web service has several methods but we're interested in GetCityForecastByZIP which takes a single string parameter for the zipcode and the second method, GetWeatherInformation that enumerates all possible forecast descriptions and associated image URLs.  The latter we'll use in the next edition but we included it here for completeness.

Defing the Application:

After adding a feature to the adfmf-feature.xml file, we added a taskflow to host the application flow.  This comprises of a home screen with a list with items for each method in the web service, "Forecast by Zip" and "Weather Info".  In this application we've also decided to hide the navigation bar since there is only one feature in the application.

Forecast by Zip:

The "Forecast By ZIP" option first presents the user with a screen where they can enter a zipcode and when the "Search" button is tapped, it executes the GetCityForecastByZIP method.  This is done by binding an Action binding to that method. The easiest way to accomplish this is to just drag & drop the method from the Data Control palette to the AMX page and drop it as a button and let the framework hook it up for you.  There is an inputText component on the page that is bound to a pageFlowScope variable called "zip".  This is used as the parameter to the Action binding when it is executed.  Because the actionListener attribute of the commandButton executes the Web Service each time, we ensure that the method is invoked every time the button is clicked.

Weather Info:

Unlike the previous method, this time instead of explictly executing the web service method we are using deferred invocation.  What this means is that we will bind to the results of the method and the framework will execute the method when it the data is required to be rendered.  We do this by simply doing a drag & drop of the results of the GetWeatherInformation to the AMX page.  When the page is rendered and the bindings are resolved the framework invokes the method.  This executes the method only when it is needed and fills the Data Control provider.  Because we never re-execute the method, you can click from Home to Weather Info and back many times and the web service is only ever invoked once.

Issues and Possible Improvements:

One thing you will quickly realize with this example is that the error handling is done by the framework for you. For simple examples this is fine but for real applications you'll want to customize these error messages.  With the declarative invocation of web services, this is difficult.  This is one aspect we'll address in the second installment of the web service examples where we will show you how to do programmatic invocation which allows you better error handling.

Another issue you will notice with this example is that we can enumerate the weather information but there isn't an easy way to use that information to show the corresponding description and image as part of the forecast results.  We'll show you how to do this in the next example.


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