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README.md

Using Akka with Spring

Introduction

In this article is explained how to integrate Akka actors into Spring console and web applications.

Spring console application with Akka

Akka ActorSystem can be integrated with Spring ApplicationContext in three steps.

Firstly, the SpringActorProducer is used to create actors by getting them as Spring beans from the ApplicationContext by name (instead of creating actors from their classes by Java reflection).

public class SpringActorProducer implements IndirectActorProducer {

   private final ApplicationContext applicationContext;
   private final String actorBeanName;

   public SpringActorProducer(ApplicationContext applicationContext, String actorBeanName) {
       this.applicationContext = applicationContext;
       this.actorBeanName = actorBeanName;
   }

   @Override
   public Actor produce() {
       return (Actor) applicationContext.getBean(actorBeanName);
   }

   @Override
   public Class<? extends Actor> actorClass() {
       return (Class<? extends Actor>) applicationContext.getType(actorBeanName);
   }
}

Secondly, an Akka Extension is used to add additional functionality to the ActorSystem. The SpringExtension uses Akka Props to create actors with the SpringActorProducer.

@Component
public class SpringExtension implements Extension {

   private ApplicationContext applicationContext;

   public void initialize(ApplicationContext applicationContext) {
       this.applicationContext = applicationContext;
   }

   public Props props(String actorBeanName) {
       return Props.create(SpringActorProducer.class, applicationContext, actorBeanName);
   }
}

Thirdly, a Spring @Configuration is used to provide the ActorSystem as a Spring bean. The ApplicaionConfiguration creates the ActorSystem from the Akka configuration, overriding the application.conf file, and registers the SpringExtension in it.

@Configuration
class ApplicationConfiguration {

   @Autowired
   private ApplicationContext applicationContext;

   @Autowired
   private SpringExtension springExtension;

   @Bean
   public ActorSystem actorSystem() {
       ActorSystem actorSystem = ActorSystem.create("demo-actor-system", akkaConfiguration());
       springExtension.initialize(applicationContext);
       return actorSystem;
   }

   @Bean
   public Config akkaConfiguration() {
       return ConfigFactory.load();
   }
}

The WorkerActor is a stateful actor that receives and sends messages (they have to be immutable) with other actors inside the onReceive method. Don't forget to use the unhandled method if the received message doesn't match. Notice that actors have to be defined in the Spring prototype scope.

@Component("workerActor")
@Scope("prototype")
public class WorkerActor extends UntypedActor {

   @Autowired
   private BusinessService businessService;

   private final CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture;

   public WorkerActor(CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture) {
       this.completableFuture = completableFuture;
   }

   @Override
   public void onReceive(Object message) throws Exception {
       businessService.perform(this + " " + message);

       if (message instanceof Message) {
           completableFuture.complete((Message) message);
       } else {
           unhandled(message);
       }

       getContext().stop(self());
   }
}

The BusinessService is a simple service that is injected in the WorkerActor by Spring.

@Service
public class BusinessService {

   private final Logger logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(this.getClass());

   public void perform(Object o) {
       logger.info("Perform: {}", o);
   }
}

The example application is a console Spring Boot application. A Spring Boot CommandLineRunner is used to get a WorkerActor from the ActorSystem inside the ApplicationContext, to send a sequence of requests and receive a response, and finally to terminate the ActorSystem. Notice that the Await.result method is blocking, so it should be used in very limited cases (e.g. in integration the actor-based part with the rest of the application or in the unit tests).

@Component
class Runner implements CommandLineRunner {

   private final Logger logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(this.getClass());

   @Autowired
   private ActorSystem actorSystem;

   @Autowired
   private SpringExtension springExtension;

   @Override
   public void run(String[] args) throws Exception {
       try {
           ActorRef workerActor = actorSystem.actorOf(springExtension.props("workerActor"), "worker-actor");

           workerActor.tell(new WorkerActor.Request(), null);
           workerActor.tell(new WorkerActor.Request(), null);
           workerActor.tell(new WorkerActor.Request(), null);

           FiniteDuration duration = FiniteDuration.create(1, TimeUnit.SECONDS);
           Future<Object> awaitable = Patterns.ask(workerActor, new WorkerActor.Response(), Timeout.durationToTimeout(duration));

           logger.info("Response: " + Await.result(awaitable, duration));
       } finally {
           actorSystem.terminate();
           Await.result(actorSystem.whenTerminated(), Duration.Inf());
       }
   }
}

Spring Web application with Akka

In the previous section was explained how to use Akka in a Spring console application. The main purpose of that example was to illustrate how to get actors from Spring ApplicationContext. But the drawback of this example was a blocking call between the actor-based part and the rest of the application. Such usage can cease all Akka advantages in production applications. So in this section is explained how to use Akka in an asynchronous and non-blocking Spring web application.

For this can be used asynchronous request processing in Spring MVC that is based on Servlet 3.0/3.1 specification. Instead of returning a value, a @Controller method should return a DeferredResult or a Callable of the value. In multi-tier applications, a @Service method should return a future (also known as promise, delay, or deferred) - a proxy to a value that isn’t completed yet. There are some interfaces that have support for future processing in their frameworks:

  • java.util.concurrent.CompletableFuture (Java 8)
  • rx.Observable (RxJava)
  • org.springframework.util.concurrent.ListenableFuture (Spring Core)
  • com.google.common.util.concurrent.ListenableFuture (Google Guava)

The main difference with the previous example application is that the WorkerActor has a non-default constructor. That required refactoring of SpringActorProducer and SpringExtension to have the ability to pass the constructor arguments.

public class SpringActorProducer implements IndirectActorProducer {

   private final ApplicationContext applicationContext;
   private final String actorBeanName;
   private final Object[] args;

   public SpringActorProducer(ApplicationContext applicationContext, String actorBeanName, Object... args) {
       this.applicationContext = applicationContext;
       this.actorBeanName = actorBeanName;
       this.args = args;
   }

   @Override
   public Actor produce() {
       if (args == null) {
           return (Actor) applicationContext.getBean(actorBeanName);
       } else {
           return (Actor) applicationContext.getBean(actorBeanName, args);
       }
   }

   @Override
   public Class<? extends Actor> actorClass() {
       return (Class<? extends Actor>) applicationContext.getType(actorBeanName);
   }
}

@Component
public class SpringExtension implements Extension {

   private ApplicationContext applicationContext;

   public void initialize(ApplicationContext applicationContext) {
       this.applicationContext = applicationContext;
   }

   public Props props(String actorBeanName) {
       return Props.create(SpringActorProducer.class, applicationContext, actorBeanName);
   }

   public Props props(String actorBeanName, Object... args) {
       return Props.create(SpringActorProducer.class, applicationContext, actorBeanName, args);
   }
}

The example application is a web application that is based on Spring Boot. In the CompletableFutureService.get method, a WorkerActor is created with an incomplete CompletableFuture as a constructor parameter. Notice how the Spring prototype-scope actor is injected into the singleton-scope CompletableFutureService. Then a Message is sent to the WorkerActor with the tell method.

@Service
public class CompletableFutureService {

   @Autowired
   private ActorSystem actorSystem;

   @Autowired
   private SpringExtension springExtension;

   public CompletableFuture<Message> get(String payload, Long id) {
       CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture = new CompletableFuture<>();
       ActorRef workerActor = actorSystem.actorOf(springExtension.props("workerActor", completableFuture), "worker-actor");
       workerActor.tell(new Message(payload, id), null);
       return completableFuture;
   }
}

The WorkerActor immediately completes the CompletableFuture, but in real applications, there can be more complicated interaction between actors. Notice that at the end of the onReceive method the WorkerActor is destroyed. It’s not an issue because creating and destroying actors is a cheap operation (should the actor be saved or destroyed and recreated again depends on the actors’ supervision strategy in the application).

@Component("workerActor")
@Scope("prototype")
public class WorkerActor extends UntypedActor {

   @Autowired
   private BusinessService businessService;

   private final CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture;

   public WorkerActor(CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture) {
       this.completableFuture = completableFuture;
   }

   @Override
   public void onReceive(Object message) throws Exception {
       businessService.perform(this + " " + message);

       if (message instanceof Message) {
           completableFuture.complete((Message) message);
       } else {
           unhandled(message);
       }

       getContext().stop(self());
   }
}

Finally, in the DeferredResultController.getAsyncNonBlocking method, the CompletableFuture is converted to a DeferredResult.

@RestController
public class DeferredResultController {

   private static final Long DEFERRED_RESULT_TIMEOUT = 1000L;

   private final AtomicLong id = new AtomicLong(0);

   @Autowired
   private CompletableFutureService completableFutureService;

   @RequestMapping("/async-non-blocking")
   public DeferredResult<Message> getAsyncNonBlocking() {
       DeferredResult<Message> deferredResult = new DeferredResult<>(DEFERRED_RESULT_TIMEOUT);
       CompletableFuture<Message> completableFuture = completableFutureService.get("async-non-blocking", id.getAndIncrement());
       completableFuture.whenComplete((result, error) -> {
           if (error != null) {
               deferredResult.setErrorResult(error);
           } else {
               deferredResult.setResult(result);
           }
       });
       return deferredResult;
   }
}

Conclusion

Code examples are available in the codechina repository.

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