Posts Tagged ‘Design Patterns’

Protecting your services with a simple fuse..

Michael Nygard, in his book Release It! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software describes a pattern he called Circuit Breaker. It is based on the idea of fuses, that is, anything that may be dangerous should be put around a safe structure, that may disable the operation requests if it has any chance to do any harm to the application itself or others. It is best described through the image (click to enlarge):

The Circuit breaker pattern, as described by Michael Nygard

The flow is like that: the dangerous operation has the fuse as a shell. The first state, “closed fuse”, has a counter of failed invocations and a threshold. When the client produces an invocation, it allows the invocation to pass through. If the call succeeds, then resets the counter. If it fails, increment the counter. If the counter reaches the threshold, it disables the fuse, going to the “open fuse” state. This state has a variable that represents an ammount of time and another one representing the moment in time when it has become the active state. Any call to the dangerous operation in this state will cause it to fail without even invoking the operation. When it is in this state for the amount of time specified in the variable, it decides that the call deserves another chance. So the invocation goes to the “half open fuse”. This state tries to invoke the operation again. If it fails, go to the open state again, resetting the timer. If it succeeds, go to the closed state again, resetting the counter of failed invocations.

OK, nice pattern, but what does it have to do with SOA?

The magic in this pattern (and the whole book) is that it brings light to subjects that most developers don´t give enough attention. One of these subjects is that you cannot rely on the network. Final. I have never seen any thrustable network (and I believe you haven´t, too!), so, as long as SOA is a kind of distributed architecture that relies on the network and we cannot rely on the network, so we can´t rely on services either! So, as long as services are unthrustable, we can apply this pattern, to:

  • Ensure that we won´t get stuck waiting for services that might never return;
  • Ensure that, if the server that is holding the web service is drowning from lots of invocations, at least we are not the ones that are gonna disable it for good;
  • And many many other good reasons to do so. Read the book 😉

As Michael himself doesn´t give any hints on the implementation of such a pattern, I decided to implement it, and you can download it from the downloads section. It is very simple, as it doesn´t allow only web services to be invoked via the pattern, but any other kind of dangerous operation too. You can modify the code the way you want to achieve your desire. My hint is that, allied to stuff like AOP and interceptors in general, you may do it the ultimate solution to never, ever have this kind of problem again.



Patterns of System Integration #1: Services mediator

Disclaimer: this pattern does not refer to Oracle´s SOA Suite 11g Mediator, nor any Thomas Erl´s Patterns (although it looks like the implementation of pieces of some of his patterns).

So, give me a brief description on what it is about.

People who are used to work with SOA are, usually, used to work with ESB´s – I say “ESB´s”, plural, to mean different kinds from different vendors of ESB – and BPEL. ESB´s are often used to justify decoupling of clients from service providers. I think it is great, but people usually forget that ESB´s, as long as they are too decoupled from the system, do not provide so much advantages as it should. So, usually, ESB´s are a layer of extra complexity to systems (the exception are some odd situations that don´t fit the usual description). Sometimes, you need some piece of software that is more intimate to the system, that can interact in an easier way to the system (like some easy way to audit calls, log them, place warns on whether systems are responding or not – therefore avoiding issues on being overloaded due to slow responsiveness of external services -, etc.). So, thinking about it, I developed this pattern.

Explain it better, what is it about?

People need to be in control of their applications. People should be in control of their applications. Usually, that´s not what happens to a SOA-based app, because we rely too much on external tools and forget that good things may be done at home, too. So, you don´t need to use a service composition to audit external services I/O, for example. If you would do so by today´s standards, you would build a service to do the auditing, then group the external service and the audit service into one piece of service composition, then offer the composition´s contract to the client… too much work. You should not build separate services unless you need them as services (after all, SOA is about getting the IT to work along with the business, right? So, it should not try to add extra pieces of complexity, like one more service, to the business, right?); so, you should approach the problem with another solution, like intercepting the messages according to your programming language way of doing so.

So, my pattern is about intercepting outgoing messages / incoming responses by building transparent, language-friendly units, in a manner that, if you need extra capabilities but do not want (or do not need) to build extra services, you should consider applying this pattern.

How to do it?

First, you should take the original WSDL and override it, replacing the original address – a technique shown here. I´m gonna call this service “shell service”, from now on. The shell service´s purpose is to provide the capability of adding this extra logic, which means it should be built in the main programming language you use in your application. To build it, you should use the same logic as the mentioned post, but should modify the provider to something like the following:

package com.alesaudate.webservices;

import javax.xml.soap.SOAPMessage;
import java.util.Iterator;
import javax.xml.namespace.QName;

public class SOAPProvider {

	public Dispatch<SOAPMessage> getDispatcher (String wsdl, String namespace, String servicename, String portName){

		try {
			//create a representation of the service
			Service service = Service.create(new URL(wsdl), new QName(
					namespace, servicename));

			final Iterator<QName> ports = service.getPorts();

			QName methodToBeCalled = null;

			//Select the port to be called
			if (portName == null)
				methodToBeCalled =;

			else {
				while (methodToBeCalled == null || !methodToBeCalled.getLocalPart().equals(portName)) {
					methodToBeCalled =;

			//Create the dispatcher, given the data.
			Dispatch<SOAPMessage> dispatch = service.createDispatch(
					methodToBeCalled, SOAPMessage.class, Service.Mode.MESSAGE);

			return dispatch;
		} catch (Exception e) {
			throw new RuntimeException("Error calling web-service", e);
package com.alesaudate.webservices;

import javax.xml.soap.SOAPMessage;

public class MySOAPProvider implements Provider<SOAPMessage>{

	public static final String ORIGINAL_WSDL = "http://localhost/SampleService?wsdl";
	public static final String ORIGINAL_SERVICE = "sampleService";
	public static final String ORIGINAL_PORT = "samplePort";
	public static final String ORIGINAL_NAMESPACE = "sampleNamespace";

	private SOAPProvider provider;
	public MySOAPProvider() {
		this.provider = new SOAPProvider();

	//You may add any extra logic here.
	public SOAPMessage invoke(SOAPMessage request) {
		Dispatch<SOAPMessage> dispatcher = provider.getDispatcher(ORIGINAL_WSDL, ORIGINAL_NAMESPACE , ORIGINAL_SERVICE,ORIGINAL_PORT);
		SOAPMessage response = dispatcher.invoke(request);
		return response;


Just to remind the reader, I would like to mention that this technique has been shown here.


I have shown here a design pattern that I call Services Mediator. Basically, it is the same that an Enterprise Service Bus does, but with the difference that it must be implemented in the same language that the application uses, providing, then, more control to the application programmer. So, at any time the services need some business logic, but does not necessarily need to use services to do so, the programmer may add this logic inside the services shell.