Friday, September 2, 2011

JAX-RS: Jersey and JSON single element arrays

Last week I have been struggling with a small issue while developing a service using Jersey. The goal of this service is to provide JSON object to my Web application, so called directly from the browser. This service returns in a JSON array a list of Employees, something like:

So an "employee" array, this is perfect and expected, but when my service returns a single element the returned object looks like:
As you can see brackets [...] are missing around the employee item. This is an issue since your client code is expecting an array.

A solution...

My application is using Jersey, the JAX-RS Reference Implementation, and JAXB for the serialization of Java Objects to JSON, as I have explained in a previous blog post. I found a solution to this by creating a new JAXB Context Resolver. In this resolver I can control how the JSON object should be generated, here is my implementation :
import com.grallandco.employee.service.converter.EmployeeConverter;
import javax.xml.bind.JAXBContext;

import com.sun.jersey.api.json.JSONConfiguration;
import com.sun.jersey.api.json.JSONJAXBContext;

public class JAXBContextResolver implements ContextResolver < JAXBContext > {

    private JAXBContext context;
    private Class[] types = {EmployeeConverter.class};

    public JAXBContextResolver() throws Exception {
        this.context = new JSONJAXBContext(JSONConfiguration.mapped().arrays("employee").build(),


    public JAXBContext getContext(Class objectType) {
        for (Class type : types) {
            if (type == objectType) {
                return context;
        return null;

First of all I declare this new class as a @Provider to say that it this class is of interest to the JAX-RS runtime. I put in the types array the list of the Java classes that are concerned by the serialization (line#13). Then I create the ContextResolved with the different options that fulfill my requirements. You can take a look to the JAXBContextResolver Javadoc to see all the possible options available. With this class, the service now returned the following JSON String:
You can find a complete example (NetBeans project) here.