Produce XML Response with Spring WebMVC Controller

In this Spring REST XML example, I am writing hello world example for REST APIs using Spring REST features. In this example, I will be creating two APIs which will return XML representation of resources.

1. Maven Dependencies

Let’s start with runtime dependencies which you will need to write these REST APIs. In fact, all you need is Spring MVC support only.


<project xmlns="" xmlns:xsi=""
  <name>springrestexample Maven Webapp</name>
    <!-- Spring MVC support -->


Note: If you please planning to include JSON support as well then all you need to do is include Jackson libraries into classpath, and same APIs will work for jackson as well.

<!-- Jackson JSON Processor -->

2. Spring MVC Configuration

For creating APIs, you will need to configure your applications same as you do in Spring MVC.


 "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD Web Application 2.3//EN"
 "" >

  <display-name>Archetype Created Web Application</display-name>



<beans xmlns=""

	<context:component-scan base-package="com.howtodoinjava.demo" />
	<mvc:annotation-driven />


3. JAXB Annotated Model Objects

You will need to annotate your model objects with jaxb annotations so that JAXB can marshal the java object into XML representation to be sent to client for that API.

package com.howtodoinjava.demo.model;

import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlAccessType;
import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlAccessorType;
import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlAttribute;
import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlElement;
import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlRootElement;

@XmlRootElement (name = "employee")
public class EmployeeVO implements Serializable 
	private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;

	private Integer id;
	private String firstName;
	private String lastName;
	private String email;
	public EmployeeVO(Integer id, String firstName, String lastName, String email) {
		super(); = id;
		this.firstName = firstName;
		this.lastName = lastName; = email;
	public EmployeeVO(){

	//Setters and Getters

	public String toString() {
		return "EmployeeVO [id=" + id + ", firstName=" + firstName
				+ ", lastName=" + lastName + ", email=" + email + "]";

package com.howtodoinjava.demo.model;

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;
import javax.xml.bind.annotation.XmlRootElement;

@XmlRootElement (name="employees")
public class EmployeeListVO implements Serializable 
	private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;
	private List<EmployeeVO> employees = new ArrayList<EmployeeVO>();

	public List<EmployeeVO> getEmployees() {
		return employees;

	public void setEmployees(List<EmployeeVO> employees) {
		this.employees = employees;

4. REST Controller

This is main class which will decide that which API will behave which way.

package com.howtodoinjava.demo.controller;

import org.springframework.http.HttpStatus;
import org.springframework.http.ResponseEntity;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.PathVariable;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RestController;
import com.howtodoinjava.demo.model.EmployeeListVO;
import com.howtodoinjava.demo.model.EmployeeVO;

public class EmployeeRESTController 
	@RequestMapping(value = "/employees")
	public EmployeeListVO getAllEmployees() 
		EmployeeListVO employees = new EmployeeListVO();
		EmployeeVO empOne = new EmployeeVO(1,"Lokesh","Gupta","");
		EmployeeVO empTwo = new EmployeeVO(2,"Amit","Singhal","");
		EmployeeVO empThree = new EmployeeVO(3,"Kirti","Mishra","");
		return employees;
	@RequestMapping(value = "/employees/{id}")
	public ResponseEntity<EmployeeVO> getEmployeeById (@PathVariable("id") int id) 
		if (id <= 3) {
			EmployeeVO employee = new EmployeeVO(1,"Lokesh","Gupta","");
            return new ResponseEntity<EmployeeVO>(employee, HttpStatus.OK);
        return new ResponseEntity(HttpStatus.NOT_FOUND);

Let’s note down few important things.

  • We have used @RestController annotation. Till Spring 3, we would have been using @Controller annotation and in that case it was important to use @ResponseBody annotation as well. e.g.
    public class EmployeeRESTController 
    	@RequestMapping(value = "/employees")
    	public @ResponseBody EmployeeListVO getAllEmployees() 
    		//API code

    Spring 4 introduced @RestController which is combination of @Controller + @ResponseBody. So when using @RestController, you do not need to use @ResponseBody. It’s optional.

  • Here we are relying on the Spring MVC HttpMessageConverter to convert an object to the xml representation requested by the user. @ResponseBody annotation (included through @RestController) tells Spring MVC that the result of the method should be used as the body of the response.

    As we want XML this marshaling is done by the Jaxb2RootElementHttpMessageConverter provided by Spring which is automatically registered in spring context if JAXB libraries are found in classpath. As I am using JRE 7 to run this application and it has JAXB inbuilt, so I do not need to add external dependency through maven.

  • Due to the @ResponseBody annotation, we don’t need the view name anymore but can simply return the employees object.
  • Instead of returning the java objects directly, you can wrap them inside ResponseEntity. The ResponseEntity is a class in Spring MVC that acts as a wrapper for an object to be used as the body of the result together with a HTTP status code.

    This provides greater control over what you are returning to client in various use cases. e.g. returning a 404 error if no employee is found for given employee id.

5. Project Structure

Spring REST XML Example - Project Structure
Spring REST XML Example – Project Structure

Test the APIs

Let’s test above REST APIs.

1) Hit URL : http://localhost:8080/springrestexample/employees

You can pass accept header “application/xml” as well.

Spring REST XML Example - REST API for get all employees
Spring REST XML Example – REST API for get all employees

2) Hit URL : http://localhost:8080/springrestexample/employees/1

Spring REST XML Example - REST API for get employee by id
Spring REST XML Example – REST API for get employee by id

3) Hit URL : http://localhost:8080/springrestexample/employees/123

Status Code: 404 Not Found
Content-Length: 0
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2015 07:01:17 GMT
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1

That’s all for this quick hello world application for REST APIs using spring mvc.

Happy Learning !!


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