Transaction Management with Spring Transactions

Spring Transactions library is useful for transaction management in your Spring-Hibernate application. A transaction is a single unit of work, in other words – a group of database interactions that should happen together. If any one of these ‘database interactions’ fail then the changes of the previous interactions in the set should be undone.

Transactions are usually (depending on granularity) declared at the service layer of your application. Service layer is the logical place where your transaction should start and a typical service layer method would call 1 or more DAO layer methods.

Spring @Transantional annotation allows the developer to declare a transaction. The typical usage of @Transactional annotation would look like below:

public class ApplicationServiceImpl implements ApplicationService {

    private static final Logger logger = Logger.getLogger(ApplicationServiceImpl.class);

    @Autowired private ApplicationDao applicationDao;

    @Autowired private QueueDao queueDao;

    @Autowired private UserDao userDao;

    public void saveApplication(Application app) throws Exception {"saving app");

Important to remember while using @Transactional is to define the condition for rollback. It is a common to incorrectly assume that because you’ve used @Transactional, Spring will take care of rolling back the whole transaction if something fails. This is not true. Spring only rolls back the transaction if your method throws an unchecked transaction i.e. Runtime Exception. It is much better practice to use the rollbackFor attribute instead. The rollbackFor attribute tells Spring what other situation (in addition to a runtime exception) to rollback for. In the example below I specify that transaction should be rolled back if any exception is thrown using attribute rollbackFor=Exception.class.

public class ApplicationServiceImpl implements ApplicationService {
private static final Logger logger = Logger.getLogger(ApplicationServiceImpl.class);
@Autowired private ApplicationDao applicationDao;

    @Autowired private QueueDao queueDao;

    @Autowired private UserDao userDao;

    public void saveApplication(Application app) throws Exception {"saving app");

In addition to above, one way to ensure that DAO methods are always part of an existing transaction initiated at the service layer is to use propagation = Propagation.MANDATORY attribute in your DAO method. If all your transactions are initiated at the service layer it would be good idea of put this attribute on all your DAO methods. With this annotation in place, whenever a DAO method is called without the caller service starting a transaction, you would get an exception stating that no active transactions existed when method was invoked.

public class ApplicationDaoImpl implements ApplicationDao {

    private static final Logger logger = Logger.getLogger(ApplicationDaoImpl.class);

    @Autowired private SessionFactory sessionFactory;

    @Transactional(propagation = Propagation.MANDATORY)
    public void saveApplication(Application app) throws Exception {
        Session session = sessionFactory.getCurrentSession();;

Spring Security customising method level authorization

If you’ve used Spring Security before you’ve probably used @Secured or @PreAuthorize annotations to enable method level security. These annotations are specifically useful for preventing your web applications being attacked by malicious users. Method level security makes sure that only authorized users can execute the specific method.

Depending upon the specific problem you can either use @Secured

void updateUser(){



Or you can use @PreAuthorize

@PreAuthorize("hasRole('ADMIN', 'ROLE_DBA', 'ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN')")
void updateUser(User user){


However, the limitation with the above annotations is that rely on GrantedAuthorities of the in session user. In other words, you are limited to the just the roles of the user to control the access to a specific method.

What about when you want to use another attribute, lets says a STATUS determined by an external service?

Or perhaps you have there is a reasonable amount to logic involved before deciding a particular user has access to a specific controller level method of your Spring app?

Under such circumstances you can leverage the ability to call custom methods through the @PreAuthorize annotation.  You can create a custom AccessManager spring managed bean (or something else suitably named for your app)


public class AccessManager{ 

	MyThirdPartyService myThirdPartyService;

	public boolean hasAccess(Authentication authentication, String... statusesNotAllowed) {
	//Complex logic can be performed here.
	//1. Access user's data with the authentication object
	//2. Access third party service to access data not available (or shouldn't be part of) in the session
	//3. statusesNotAllowed an example paramter, can have more or less


The AccessManager.hasAccess() method can be called in the @PreAuthorize annotation anywhere in your application. Only when AccessManager.hasAccess method returns true with the parameters specified in the annotation, the updateUser method would get executed.

@PreAuthorize("@accessManager.hasAccess(authentication, {'CANCELLED', 'BLOCKED', 'TERMINATED'})")
public String updateUser(User user){


Spring LDAP Authentication

What is LDAP? LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. It’s designed to query and interact with directory data. As most enterprises use Microsoft directory service provider called Active Directory or AD, LDAP is commonly used to ‘talk’ to an Active Directory.

Developers tend to be confused about the difference between AD and LDAP. In short, AD is a database and LDAP is a protocol used to talk to an AD database.

The Java JNDI API can also be used for LDAP programming. If you’ve used JNDI API you may realize that it requires a lot more boilerplate code for even for the most simple tasks. Using Spring LDAP template on the other hand is a much more efficient way of implementing all of your LDAP related functionality.

How to use Spring-ldap? Before you write any code, you will need to import the following Spring Framework jars into your Java project. These are:

  • spring-ldap-core.jar
  • spring-core.jar and
  • spring-beans.jar

After importing the above jars, you need to create the ldapTemplate bean in spring context file. For example, I declared my ldapTemplate in the context xml as below.

<bean id="contextSource" class="">
 <property name="url" value="ldap://" />
 <property name="base" value="dc=your,dc=base,dc=dn" />
 <property name="userDn" value="${ad.username}" />
 <property name="password" value="${ad.password}" />
 <property name="referral" value="follow" />

 <bean id="ldapTemplate" class="org.springframework.ldap.core.LdapTemplate">
 <constructor-arg ref="contextSource" />

url: the url property should be either the IP address or the URL of the Active Directory you’re using. Please make sure that you use port 689 in production. Port 689 ensures communication through LDAPS protocol which is more secure than standard LDAP. You will need to import the certificate of the Active Directory you are connecting to into your java trust store.

After you have correctly set the above properties, you will need to inject the ldapTemplate bean in your java class. In the example below I use the Spring @Autowired annotation to inject the bean into my controller class.

@Autowired LDAPTemplte ldapTemplate;

Once, you’ve injected the bean, you can finally write the java code to enable LDAP Authentication. In the snippet below I write a simple method called authenticate which authenticates a user if the correct username and password combination is supplied.

private boolean authenticate(String username, String password){
 AndFilter filter = new AndFilter();
 filter.and(new EqualsFilter("sAMAccountName", username));
 boolean authenticated = ldapTemplate.authenticate("", filter.toString(), password);
 return authenticated;

The above piece of code would work for you if

  • the username supplied is always be correct and
  • the user is always be enabled

This is obviously not going to be the case in real life. So we need some additional information to be returned by this method. It would nice if the method could return information related to failed password count and locked out time. This would help you understand why a user is not authenticated.

We’ll use the user search function provided by spring-ldap to return the user’s attributes. We’ll add the below code to the function we just created above.

List<Object> templates ="", filter.toString(),new AttributesMapper() {
 public List<Object> mapFromAttributes(Attributes attrs) throws NamingException {
 List output = new ArrayList<>();
 return output;

List<Object> output = (List)templates.get(0);"Failed Login Count: "+output.get(0).toString());
if (output.get(1) == null || output.get(1) == 0){"Account is not locked");
} else {"Account is locked")

The above code snippet shows how we can use the sAMAccountName attribute to search for the user. The sAMAccountName usually corresponds to the username given to the user. There is a slight chance that this might not be the case for the active directory you’re using so please just verify that sAMAccountName does actually correspond to the username used by users for logging in.

Another thing to note here is that lockoutTime returns a null value if the account has never been locked before and 0 if it’s been locked before but is not locked currently.

Obviously, the method can modified to return the values of other attributes if needed.

Liferay LDAP Export to Active Directory disabled user bug.

Liferay 6.1 LDAP tool has a bug where the Liferay user is exported into Active Directory but is disabled by default. After much deliberation I found a workaround where we can write a hook to export users instead of using the out of the box tool. The hook uses a Model Listener on the User Model to look for changes to the user object i.e. the custom code is triggered when anything about the User object changes. The custom code uses the Java JNDI interface to create and or update users in Active Directory.

	public void onAfterCreate(User user) throws ModelListenerException {
		LDAPUtil util = new LDAPUtil();	

				try {"Attempting to create user: Screen Name: "
							+ user.getScreenName() + " :First Name: "
							+ user.getFirstName() + " : LastName: "
							+ user.getLastName() + " Email:"
							+ user.getEmailAddress()+ " OpenID: "
					+ user.getOpenId()+ " JobTitle: "
					+ user.getJobTitle());
							user.getPasswordUnencrypted(), user.getFirstName(),
							user.getLastName(), user.getEmailAddress(),
							user.getOpenId(), user.getJobTitle());

				} catch (Exception e) {
					throw new ModelListenerException(e);

 	public void createAdUser(String screenName, String password, String firstName, String lastName, String emailAddress, String openID, String jobTitle) {
		try {

			// Create the initial directory context
			LdapContext ctx = getLdapContext();
			String userDn = getUserDN(screenName);

			// Create attributes to be associated with the new user
			Attributes attrs = new BasicAttributes(true);

			// These are the mandatory attributes for a user object
			// Note that Win2K3 will automagically create a random
			// samAccountName if it is not present. (Win2K does not)
			List<String> objectClasses =  Arrays.asList(PropsUtil.get("your.object.classes").split(","));
			for (String objectClass: objectClasses){
				attrs.put("objectClass", objectClass);
			//attrs.put("samAccountName", screenName);
			attrs.put("cn", screenName);
			attrs.put("mail", emailAddress);
			// These are some optional (but useful) attributes
			attrs.put("sn", lastName);
			attrs.put("displayName", screenName);
			if (openID != null && openID.trim().length() > 0){"AD User: Setting emplyeeID to: "+openID);
				attrs.put("employeeID", openID);
			if (jobTitle != null && jobTitle.trim().length() > 0){"AD User: Setting emplyeeNumber to: "+openID);
				attrs.put("employeeNumber", jobTitle);
			//attrs.put("userPrincipalName", username);

			// Note that the user object must be created before the password
			// can be set. Therefore as the user is created with no
			// password, userAccountControl must be set to the following
			// otherwise the Win2K3 password filter will return error 53
			// unwilling to perform.
			attrs.put("userAccountControl", Integer.toString(UF_NORMAL_ACCOUNT + UF_PASSWD_NOTREQD + UF_PASSWORD_EXPIRED + UF_ACCOUNTDISABLE));"Creating AD user: " + userDn);
			// Create the context
			Context result = ctx.createSubcontext(userDn, attrs);"Created account: " + userDn);

			// Set password is a ldap modfy operation
			// and we'll update the userAccountControl
			// enabling the account and forcing the password to never expire
			if (password != null) {
				ModificationItem[] mods = new ModificationItem[2];

				//Replace the "unicdodePwd" attribute with a new value
				//Password must be both Unicode and a quoted string
				String newQuotedPassword = "\"" + password + "\"";
				byte[] newUnicodePassword = newQuotedPassword.getBytes("UTF-16LE");

				mods[0] = new ModificationItem(DirContext.REPLACE_ATTRIBUTE, new BasicAttribute("unicodePwd", newUnicodePassword));
				mods[1] = new ModificationItem(DirContext.REPLACE_ATTRIBUTE, new BasicAttribute("userAccountControl", Integer.toString(UF_NORMAL_ACCOUNT + UF_DONT_EXPIRE_PASSWD)));

				// Perform the update
				ctx.modifyAttributes(userDn, mods);"Successfully set password and updated userAccountControl");


		} catch (NamingException e) {"NamingException while creating AD user " + screenName);
			throw new RuntimeException(e);
		} catch (IOException e) {"IOException while creating AD user " + screenName);
			throw new RuntimeException(e);

Integrating Liferay Developer Studio with JBoss Application Server 7.1

Liferay Developer Studio comes bundled with Tomcat server. Tomcat is usually useful to get things up and running however not so suitable for resource intensive applications. JBoss is usually is good choice for most requirements. The following are the instructions on how to integrate JBoss with Liferay.

  1. Download Liferay JBoss bundle from the liferay website and save it on your local drive. I saved to my local drive.
  2. Unzip this file to a folder of your choice. I unzipped it to C:\work\liferay-portal\liferay-portal-6.2-ee-sp7. This will your JBOSS_BUNDLE_HOME.
  3. Start the JBoss Server.
  4. If you navigate to http://localhost:8080/, you will see a message indicating that you dont have the Liferay License.
  5. Refer to section in my previous blog post on updating license.
  6. You also need to connect to the same database that you set up with Liferay Developer Studio. To connect to the existing database:
    1. Create a new file called in JBOSS_BUNDLE_HOME.
    2. Add the following properties to the file and restart your JBoss Application Server.
  1. Create a new file called in JBOSS_BUNDLE_HOME, add the following lines and save it.
    1.{your admin user email address}
    2. User
    3. liferay.home=C:/work/liferay-portal/liferay-portal-6.2-ee-sp7
    4. setup.wizard.enabled=false
  2. Create a new file called build.(your username}.properties in {LIFERAY_HOME}\liferay-developer-studio\liferay-plugins-sdk-6.2 and add the following lines and save it.
app.server.type = jboss
app.server.jboss.dir = ${app.server.parent.dir}/jboss-7.1.1 = ${app.server.jboss.dir}/modules/com/liferay/portal/main
app.server.jboss.portal.dir = ${app.server.jboss.dir}/standalone/deployments/ROOT.war
app.server.jboss.deploy.dir = ${app.server.jboss.dir}/standalone/deployments
app.server.parent.dir = C:/work/liferay-portal/liferay-portal-6.2-ee-sp7
  1. Restart your application server. You should automatically be navigated to the Portal Login page.

Liferay: How to Setup Liferay 6.2 EE Developer Environment

Installing Liferey Developer Studio

  • Navigate to
  • In the Downloads section, select ‘Windows 64 Bit Bundle’ and click on download.
  • Create a folder on your machine where you want to setup your liferay environment. I have C:\work\liferay\
  • Unzip the downloaded file into the folder you created for liferay development.
  • Open Liferay Developer Studio by clicking on developer studio icon inside your unzipped folder.
  • You will be asked to specify a workspace (I specified, C:\work\liferay\workspace).
  • Start your Tomcat Server.

Updating Licence

  • Once your server has started up, navigate to http://localhost:8080. You will be automatically navigated to the page telling you that the server is not registered. To register the licence:
  • Clear both data and licence folders at LIFERAY_HOME\liferay-develoeper-studio\liferay-portal-6.2-ee-sp5\
  • Place your licence.xml in the deploy directory.
  • Restart your Tomcat Application Server.
  • You should see Liferay configuration page at http://localhost:8080

Configuring Liferay Admin User

Under the Administrator User Section:

  • Enter First Name: admin
  • Enter Last Name: user
  • Email: Enter your email address eg;

Configure Database

Liferay comes packaged with Hypersonic database. It is recommended that you configure it to use a proper DBMS like Oracle, MySQL or SQL Server.
The following will detail the steps to connect to SQL Server.

  • Please create a new database on SQL Server and give it a sensible name, I called it liferay_portal.
  • On localhost:8080, under the database section, click on change hyperlink, this should open up a database configuration section.
  • Under Database Type dropdown select: SQL Server.
  • Under Database URL enter: jdbc:jtds:sqlserver://localhost/liferay_portal
  • Under JDBC driver class name enter: net.sourceforge.jtds.jdbc.Driver
  • Under username enter your database admin username.
  • Under password enter your database password.
  • Click Finish Configuration.

If you encounter a java connection refused exception when trying to connect to the database, please follow the following steps to resolve it.

  • Create a file called
  • Enter the following details in



jdbc.default.username=[your database username]

jdbc.default.password=[your database password]

  • Saved the file at LIFERAY_HOME\liferay-developer-studio\liferay-portal-6.2-ee-sp5
  • Open SQL Server Configuration Manager
  • In the left hand side menu, in the tree structure, select SQL Server Network Configuration -> Protocols for MSSQLSERVER
  • Right click on TCP/IP and enable it (if not enabled).
  • Double click on TCP/IP, this should open TCP/IP popup.
  • Open IP Addresses tab.
  • In the tab, you’ll notice a number of IP addresses listed in each section.
  • In the section where you see IP address, make sure IP is active and enabled and port is 1433.
  • Save your changes.
  • Restart the Liferay Tomcat server, you shouldn’t see any errors now.

Android: download and decompress GZIP file on the fly

Code snippet below shows a neat way of downloading and decompressing a GZIP file on the fly. This saves from having to programmatically download the file first and then decompressing it. I have used this for downloading and unzipping a GZIP file that contained an XML document.

protected String doInBackground(String... sUrl) {
	try {
		URL url = new URL(sUrl[0]);
		URLConnection connection = url.openConnection();
		InputStream stream = connection.getInputStream();
		stream = new GZIPInputStream(stream);
		InputSource is = new InputSource(stream);
		InputStream input = new BufferedInputStream(is.getByteStream());
		OutputStream output = new FileOutputStream("Path to the file");
		byte data[] = new byte[2097152];
		long total = 0;
		int count;
		while ((count = != -1) {
			total += count;
			output.write(data, 0, count);

	} catch (BufferOverflowException e) {
	} catch (IOException e) {
		return null;