JSONP with Mendix REST Services

Mendix is an exciting platform because it simplifies something that tends to get overly-complicated: web-facing, record-based systems.

Because of Mendix’s platform ideology of rapid development, it isolates the developer from the guts of the java code it generates and compiles.

The problem is that many of the apps (modules) available from the App Store are not as flexible or feature rich as they might be, and some have the classic problem of backwards compatibility with a rapid-release IDE (in this case, the Mendix Business Modeler).

When Mendix started offering REST services, I took interest because it’s one of the better use cases for the platform, and I found that the REST Service module delivered both consume and publish services, and the setup was intuitive and worked well…with one exception: No JSONP support.

JSONP is a very simple modification to JSON output that simply wraps the JSON object of the response in a function name that you pass to it in a parameter usually named callback.

So we go from

[{"field1":"stringvalue", "field2":100}]

to

passedCallbackFunctionName([{"field1":"stringvalue", "field2":100}]);

Then, on the receiving side, the function named in the query parameters is either automatically invoked by libraries like jQuery (because it detects a parameter named callback in the request url), or manually by calling eval() on the response body.

This can be fixed, but requires an adventure into the java code layer that Mendix generally keeps out of sight.

To setup REST in Mendix, first download the Rest Services module from the App Store:

mendix-rest-services-module

With this downloaded, you will see the following content in the tree view of the module in the Project Explorer:

mendix-rest-module-tree

You want to create a microflow to handle the initialization of your REST microflow endpoints, and set that in the Project Settings After startup property:

mendix-project-settings-after-startup.jpg

 

My Initialization microflow looks like this:

mendix-rest-init-microflow

The first activity takes no parameters. The second needs and third need settings similar to the following:

mendix-rest-create-microflow-service-action-settings

So in my module named Search, I am exposing a microflow named “incidents”; giving it a wildcard for security role, which means anyone can access it; being unimaginative with my description; and specifying HttpMethod of RestServices.HttpMethod.GET enum value.

I do this again for another endpoint that serves up records from a entity table of requests.

I’m not going to go into the mechanics of the microflows I’m publishing, except to note that they produce JSON based on the fields of a non-persistable entity, which I populate via a persistable entity at the time of endpoint invocation. For this simple ticket system app, my domain model looks like this:

mendix-rest-domain-entities

The search args will be automatically populated, based on the parameters in the query string.

For example, when you hit the running endpoint and specify contenttype=json, you get this result:

http://localhost:8080/rest/incidents?firstname=James&lastname=Gilbert&limit=10&offset=0&status=Open&q=&contenttype=json

mendix-rest-query-results

So the service publishes under the path

http://<your-app>/rest/<microflow>

…But as you can see, this is not JSONP.

 

To have Mendix Rest Services offer JSONP support, you only need to make two tiny edits to the files RestServiceRequest.java, and RestServices.java which are added to your Mendix project when you add the Rest Services module.

To find this, go to the Project menu, and choose Show Project Directory in Explorer

mendix-show-project-directory.jpg

And navigate to

<Your Project Path>\javasource\restservices

mendix-rest-path

There’s RestServices.java, and RestServiceRequest.java is under the publish folder.

Add the following to RestServices.java:

mendix-rest-RestServices-java

And in RestServiceRequest.java, here are the changes:

mendix-rest-RestServiceRequest-edit1mendix-rest-RestServiceRequest-edit2mendix-rest-RestServiceRequest-edit3mendix-rest-RestServiceRequest-edit4

Here’s a zip of all the changes: Link

When you have your service compiling and running locally, you can deploy it to the Mendix Free App Cloud for further testing. NOTE: the service will go to sleep after a period without requests, so as tempting as it is, it’s probably a bad idea to leave it on the free app cloud.

So now you can make ajax calls your Mendix REST service endpoints from jQuery without worrying about Cross-Domain requests, which ajax now blocks.

Here’s a sample of one such request:

var mendixurlbase = "https://<your-hosted-app>/rest/incidents?callback=?";
$.getJSON( mendixurl, { 
    firstname: "James",
    lastname: "Gilbert",
    limit: 10,
    offset: 0,
    status: "Open",
    contenttype: "json"
}) .done(function( data ) {
    console.log(data);
});

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