How to set up method level caching with annotations using javax.cache / JCache / JSR-107 & Guice

I’ve just spent a day looking at Java caching standards and utilising them in front of a data repository.  It turns out that information, and by this I mean practical information that helps with implementation, is a little thin on the ground.  If you’re not using Spring, you’re stuffed. Hence this post.

JSR-107 is the original java specification for the javax.cache package. It spent the longest time ever to become an approved standard.  Years.  13 years.  That’s right, it was initiated in March 2001 and went final in March 2014.

JCache is the javax.cache API and also the reference implementation of that specification.  Unlike other RIs like Tomcat or Jersey, this one is not meant for production use, which left me scratching my head as to what I should be using.  Confusingly, I’ve found different versions of mplementations in two different name spaces; either javax.cache or org.jsr107.ri.

What am I trying to do?

I want to automagically cache return values from annotated methods. Sounds simple, right? Actually, it is simple once you know how to set it up.  With javax.cache you can do it like this:

Making it work

I eventually found a blog post that pointed me in the right direction about what to include to make it happen.  It took me a while but I’ve found the latest artifacts (they both changed group and artifact IDs since 2011!) and version 1.0 goes like this:

And you’re done.  Really.  The ehcache bindings pick up the annotations, create default caches and populate them exactly as you’d expect.  If you want to configure them up front, you can use an xml file, or modify them on startup.

So what took me so long.

This took me ages.  Far longer than I thought it would.

The documentation around this sucks.  At the time of writing, there are no publicly available javadocs you can browse on the web.  Well, none that I could find.  No HOW-TO, no simple introduction. If you visit the JSR or JCache pages it’s not much more helpful than maven.  You’re reduced to reading the spec.  To confuse things further, I next realised that the spec expects javax.cache implementations to be Dependency Injection containers rather than caching libraries.  As in Spring, Guice or CDI.  Not ehcache, memcache or whatever.  I had to work all this out before I could even begin to get started.

So yeah, that’s what took me so long. Thanks to the developers though, it really does work well and if you’re in a similar boat I hope this helps.

ETD2014 slides

I’m having a great time attending the ETD2014 conference.  There’s been lots of lively discussion around ORCiD and DOIs and it’s been fantastic to gather wider perspectives.  It’s also been great to get some coding in adapting the import tool to work with the Leicester institutional repository.

For those that are interested in the ORCiD integration I was discussing earlier, the live application can be found at and the code at I’ve popped the slides on figshare (


ELAG2014 – Slides

I recently presented at ELAG2014 about ORCiD integration.  I’ve embedded my slides below.  They might not make quite as much sense without context – they’re mainly pictures with single word topic headings, but they contain links to the source code etc.

I had a great time and met a lot of interesting folks whilst at ELAG.  I’m now in contact with two UK universities looking at ORCiD integration so I think it’s been useful.

I’ll add some commentary and a summary of the talk later this week.

Rather appropriately this is up on figshare – an open data repository that lets you upload anything then assigns it a DOI. This one has



A different view of the British Library – photos

Once you get inside it, the British Library is a beautiful building.  I’ve taken to photographing it and its contents during my lunch break.  Here they are, click on them for the bigger versions.

Check out my flickr stream for more.

Generating POJOs from XML schemas using JAXB XJC

A little bit of history

XML processing in Java has come a long way in the last ten years.  Back in the old days mapping XML to Java was a bit of a nightmare, deserialising usually meant pulling the DOM apart bit by bit to get at the interesting parts. Serialisation was worse – the Java DOM API is truly horrific.  Helper libraries existed, JDOM, XMLBeans etc etc but while they made things somewhat easier they never made it easy.  Add to that the problems introduced by having various versions of xerces, various implementations of the org.w3c.dom API, and versions of the DOM api itself (urgh – dom level 2 anyone?) it added up to development hell.

Introducing XJC

Now days, there’s a plethora of libraries and methods to choose from and some of them are baked right into the core java class libraries.  JAXB is one of them.  JAXB comes with a handy little command line tool called xjc, which takes a schema and spits out an annotated class hierarchy.   The class hierarchy behaves in a sane manner (unlike the weird stuff XMLBeans used to make) and can be used for marshalling and unmarshalling XML to POJOs.

Generating POJOS

Generating Java classes from an XML schema is easy.  It goes a little something like this:

bash> xjc my-schema.xsd

Yup, it’s usually that simple.  To generate it in the package you want, you can do

bash> xjc -p my.pkg my-schema.xsd

Place the generated classes somewhere in your project and you’re ready to go.

Using JAXB

In the simplest cases you can do something as easy as:

While there’s loads more to JAXB than this example shows, this will certainly get you started.  I wrote the ORCiD Java Library using xjc and JAXB, so if you’re interested, check it out.

The age of geocities – Bubba says HOWDY!!!

There’s a fantastic project out there that’s taking screenshots of random Geocites pages as they would have appeared when they were live.

It’s strangely compelling viewing.

bubba says howdy!!!
bubba says howdy!!!

Sites like these showcase an important aspect of our cultural heritage.  Back when the internet was called the “information superhighway” and people were still talking about the “digital frontier”, Geocites was where you could stake your claim.

I did it myself once.  I set up my own little homestead that hosted a Java Applet I’d written – a Java version of the classic game Elite.  I couldn’t get the flight engine quite right, but you could trade from Lave to Diso, view things on the radar, travel between systems and view all the original craft in their rotating vector glory.  The site is sadly lost but the memories remain.

Grab yourself a bit of nostalgic indulgence here:

More background of the project can be found here:




ORCiD tools – who’s claiming what?

As part of my work with data-centres and ORCiD I’ve put together a tool that lets you see where works claimed within ORCiD have been published.   Start typing a publisher into the search box and it’ll look up the DOI prefix (or other identifier prefix) for that publisher from a list nearly 4000 long.  Current highlights include the American Helicopter Society with 9 ORCiDs.

See it in action at


One of the things that’s repeatedly come up when talking to data-centres about author metadata is that while it’s easy to push data in, it’s pretty hard to get it back out.  Recent changes in the ORCiD API have made this easier, hence this tool.

Many datasets have scant author metadata, with little more that an institution name attributed to them.  Datacentres can now pull the claims information out of ORCiD and use it to selectively enrich their own metadata, completing a “virtuous circle” of integration.

Source code?

This code is available as part of the orcid-update-java application, which uses the orcid-java-client library.

I didn’t go to university to get myself a job

Chris Bourg has written a great piece about the insidiousness of neo-liberalism and education-as-an-investment over at her blog, check it out here: The Neoliberal Library: Resistance is not futile

I am one of those hopeless idealists who still believes that education is – or should be – a social and public good rather than a private one, and that the goal of higher education should be to promote a healthy democracy and an informed citizenry. And I believe libraries play a critical role in contributing to that public good of an informed citizenry.

In the neoliberal university, students are individual customers, looking to acquire marketable skills. Universities (and teachers and libraries) are evaluated on clearly defined outcomes, and on how efficiently they achieve those outcomes.  Sound familiar?

I’ve managed to make this blog of mine really dull tech stuff and zero politics for a while now, probably out of a desire to keep myself sane.  That said, the almost inevitable (and widely ignored in the press) move in the UK towards a for-profit education system should strike fear into the hearts of anyone who stops to think about it.

There’s two sides to this, the education-as-an-investment and the for-profit education system and they go hand in hand. Ever since the introduction of tuition fees in the UK, the ideology of “investing in yours education” has gained a lot of traction here.  The next stop will almost certainly be the ramping up of the for-profit private education market, starting with the lift of tuition fee caps and ending with a two-tier education system that pumps out workers and  perpetuates inherited privilege.

Chris also talks a lot of sense about the ridiculous focus on the personal within politics, the focus on individualism at the expense of the wider movement.  Check out her blog, it’s a refreshing blast and a welcome change from the celebrity twitterati politics of ME that seems to pass for political discourse nowadays.  Sure, it’s important to understand that other people have different experiences that you.  Essential in fact.  But just understanding gets us nowhere and changes nothing.  It’s Acting, Doing.  That’s what we need.

For more info on these topics, and to actually help do something, tale a look at campaign group Public University and the UCU

ORCID Open Source Java Client – I made this!

Update: ORCiD client now available as a Maven dependency!

I’ve just open sourced a Java application I’ve been working on at the British Library.  It’s a RESTlet server and JQuery/bootstrap client that enables people to claim a work from a remote service, log into ORCID using OAuth and add the work to their profile.

It was built to work with a British Library service called Ethos (, but is easily customizable for use with other metadata providers, integrators simply implement an interface to fetch  metadata from their own backend and update the configuration to use it.

You can find the ORCiD client library source (with examples) here:

You can find the application source code here:

You can see it in action here:

Controlling the cache headers for a RESTlet directory

My previous post described how to serve webjars with RESTlet.  This post will describe how to add caching so that users don’t swamp your servers with requests.

Put simply, you put a filter in the chain before the directory and modify the HTTP headers of successful requests.  Like so: