This article explains how to build and deploy a RESTful service into a CICS Liberty JVM server based on the WebSphere Liberty JAX-RS feature and the IBMRestServlet. The article is based on an original blog by Daniel Fitzgerald.


The CICS Liberty server offers a lightweight Java container with all the features of Java Servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP’s) as well as local access to your existing CICS applications and data. You can expose these existing resources to the web using Java Servlets hosted in the CICS Liberty server and expose them in a RESTful way. But before we begin what exactly is REST?

The term ‘REST’ refers to REpresentational State Transfer, a design pattern for interacting with resources stored in a server. Each resource has an identity, a data type, and supports a set of actions. The RESTful design pattern is usually used in combination with HTTP, the language of the internet. In this context the resource’s identity is its URI, the data type is its Media Type, and the actions are made up of the standard HTTP methods GET, PUT, POST and DELETE.


Now we understand what REST is, why would we want to use it? Why not use Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)?

  • RESTful designs tend to be simpler, easier to understand and work much more closely to the way the web works
  • SOAP and Web Services Description Language (WSDL) are designed to be machine-readable, RESTful URIs should be human readable and describe the data being exposed. This makes testing and debugging simpler and easier.
  • RESTful designs put the onus on the client to remember state and by careful use of the ‘Expires’ HTTP header can improve caching while reducing server-side complexity.
  • You can use JSON in a REST implementation, a data interchange format that can be more efficient to parse than the equivalent XML, whereas SOAP requires XML.


A quick note on exactly what JAX-RS is. It stands for Java API for RESTful web services and is used for designing web services according to the REST design pattern. It uses annotations to convert between Java and web data. There are many implementations of JAX-RS in use today including WebSphere Liberty, Apache Wink or Jersey.


Firstly there a few things you need before you can begin:

  1. A CICS TS V5.1 (or later) region. Note if you are using V5.1 you will need APAR PM80214 applied.
  2. A JVM server running the web container based on Liberty with the jaxrs-1.1 feature enabled. For more details on configuring a Liberty JVM server starting a CICS Liberty JVM server in 4 easy steps
  3. An Eclipse IDE 4.4 or later – This can easily be downloaded from Eclipse for Java EE Developers
  4. The CICS Explorer SDK installed into the Eclipse IDE, this should include the SDK for Servlet and JSP support. For further details refer to Download Eclipse Tools page
  5. IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5.5 Developer Tools (WDT) for Eclipse installed into the Eclipse IDE. Note if you are using CICS Explorer V5.3 or later these will be installed as part of the CICS SDK for Servlet and JSP support
  6. Download the working sample code if required here GitHub download


The CICS Liberty server creates a directory structure in zFS, including a server.xml file if you have auto-configure on in your JVM profile. It is in this file that you configure the features that you want to use. This is one of the main design points of Liberty, that you enable only the features you wish to use, resulting in the runtime footprint of the server being a lot smaller than traditional application servers. You can access the server.xml file on zFS using the z/OS perspective in CICS Explorer.

Once you have the CICS Liberty server setup with the jaxrs-1.1 feature let’s begin writing our RESTful application. We are going to be using an existing CICS sample project included with the CICS Explorer that interacts with TSQs. What we will be doing is creating a RESTful interface to this application and exposing the TSQ read, write, browse and delete operations as a RESTful service.

JAX-RS uses annotations such as @GET, @Produces and @Consumes to map resource classes (POJOs – Plain Old Java Objects) to web resources. Those who know Java may have worked with annotations before and those specific to JAX-RS should be familiar to web developers.

1. Next in Eclipse create a new Dynamic Web project (New -> Dynamic Web Project). We called our project Leave the target run-time as <None> and deselect Add project to an EAR. You must also add web support, so be careful to choose web module version 3.0 to ensure that you use servlet-3.0 from the Java EE 6 specification.

Dynamic Web project
On the next screen the source folders option does not need to be modified, and finally select the box to to generate a web.xml deployment descriptor as this makes servlet configuration easier.

2. Having created the project, the first job is to add the CICS and web Java libraries to the project so that the servlet and JCICS APIs are made available. To do this right-click on the project and select Build Path -> Configure Build Path. Click Add Library and select Liberty JVM server libraries.

3. Next since we are going to extend the CICS Liberty TSQ sample, we need to copy into our application the packages from the TSQ sample. Use the following menu to create the TSQ sample: Examples -> CICS Examples -> Servlet and JSP -> CICS Temporary Storage Queue

This creates the 4 different projects the TSQ sample requires. Open the OSGi bundle project, and copy the 4 classes (BrowseTsqOSGi, DeleteTsqOSGi, TsqInfoOSGi, WriteTsqOSGi) in the package into the src folder of the dynamic web project so they will be available to the application.

4. Now create a new package and add a new class in the project src folder and name it Tsq. Within this class add the following import statements for the business logic classes we copied into our project in step 3.


5. Above the class declaration add the @Path annotation to define the URI path to this class."/tsq/{tsqName}")
public class Tsq {

If the URI path ends in /tsq/{tsqName} the data contained in the {tsqName} portion will be sent to our Tsq class. For example when a HTTP request that looks like this is received:


Q1 will be passed as a parameter to the method annotated with the @GET.

Take a look at the code sample below to see our browseTsq() method which is annotated with the @GET annotation. This return a JSONObject which is an unordered Map of name/value pairs, which makes returning JSON data to the client very simple.
	public JSONObject browseTsq("tsqName") String tsqName) throws Exception {
		//create the object that will interact with the TSQ
		BrowseTsqOSGi browseTsq = new BrowseTsqOSGi();
		// create an ArrayList, insert the TSQ records but handle QIDERR
		ArrayList<String> records = new ArrayList<String>();		
		try {
			records = browseTsq.browseTSQ(tsqName);
		} catch (Exception e) {
			if (e instanceof{				
		} else {
			throw e;
		//Put each record into a JSONObject and add it to a JSONArray
		JSONArray queueArray = new JSONArray();
		for(String record: records)
			JSONObject jsonRecord = new JSONObject();
			jsonRecord.put("record", record);
		//create an JSONObject to return
		JSONObject tsq = new JSONObject();
		//put the name of the TSQ
		tsq.put("tsqName", tsqName);
		//put the array of records
		tsq.put("records", queueArray);
		//return the object
		return tsq;

Notice the use of the @Produces annotation that declares that this method produces (returns) a content type of 'application/json'. Another important feature used is the @PathParam annotation. This is used in the method signature and allows us to assign URI path parameter to variables. In the example above we obtain the String, tsqName from the URI which will then then use as the name of the TSQ for operations in CICS.

In the example the annotations indicate the Java methods that correspond to the HTTP methods, any parameters supplied in the URI have been obtained and that data has been used to interact with a CICS resource. You can write Java methods for all the HTTP methods, such as GET, PUT, POST and DELETE that you wish to support in your resource class, and you can find working examples for these in our supplied sample code.

Once you’ve written all your methods, the deployment descriptor must be configured. If you correctly added Web 3.0 support and selected the option to generate a deployment descriptor there will be a file called web.xml. If you didn't add web support, it's not too late. Right click on the project in the Package Explorer view in Eclipse and open Properties. Choose Project Facet and check the Dynamic Web Module option, choosing version 3.0, press OK. Right click on the project again, go to Java EE Tools, select Generate Deployment Descriptor stub. The deployment descriptor (web.xml) is located in the following folder: WebContent/WEB-INF.

6. Open the web.xml file and add the following lines after the welcome-file-list tag.

		<description>IBM JAX-RS service</description>
		<display-name>IBM JAX-RS service</display-name>

You can see that just one servlet is registered in this file, the IBMRestServlet, which receives all incoming HTTP requests. This servlet is supplied by Liberty and looks at the URI of the request and forwards it to the appropriate servlet class based on the @Path annotation. Hence why only one <servlet-class> is defined. You must also define an <init-param>. This is a servlet initialization parameter that is used to point to a configuration subclass. This subclass returns the set of Java classes that provides for the RESTful implementation.

7. We have not created this configuration class yet so create a new class in the web project and call it TsqConfig. This configuration class returns a list of the JAX-RS resource classes that make up the application. In this example there is only one class which just returns our Tsq class. See the example below:

public class TsqConfig extends
	//List the JAX-RS classes that contain annotations
	public Set<Class<?>> getClasses()
		Set<Class<?>> classes = new HashSet<Class<?>>();
		return classes;

8. Create a new CICS Bundle Project and name it, we used the format

  1. In the Bundle Overview select New to specify the CICS resources to be installed within this bundle. Choose Dynamic Web Project Include and in the next window select the web project containing the web application.
  2. In the JVM Server name field enter the name of the JVM server you will be using in your CICS region

Your CICS Bundle should now contain a file with a .warbundle file extension and a folder called META-INF that contains a cics.xml file. This can now be used to install the web application into CICS

9. Right click on the CICS Bundle project and select Export project to z/OS UNIX File System. Click the option to Export to a specific location in the file system, and then choose a location where to store the bundle. If you already have CICS Bundles stored on zFS it’s best to put it in that location.

10. Define and install a CICS BUNDLE resource that refers to the zFS location from step 10. See the useful link section for further information on how to define BUNDLE resources in CICS.

The final result

And that’s it you are ready to test out your new RESTful TSQ browsing service. Let’s take a look at sending some requests. First we will just issue a HTTP GET to read a TSQ.

Using the Chrome Simple REST client enter a GET for the following URL:<port>/

If the application is working this should return an HTTP 200 with a JSON response containing a records object with an empty array, as follows:


Next we’ll create a new TSQ by sending a POST request. To create a TSQ we need to POST a HTTP request with a JSON content type, passing in the tsqName and record values in a JSON payload. If using the Chrome Simple REST client you will need to enter the following values

  • Headers: Content-Type: application/json
  • Data: {"tsqName":"Q1","record":"hallo"}

This should also return a HTTP 200. If you have imported the sample you should now be able to also use the PUT and DELETE methods to browse the TSQs on your CICS region using your Liberty server.



You now have a working RESTful web service deployed in a CICS Liberty JVM server. We have discussed how the different JAX-RS annotations aid the conversion from Plain Old Java Objects (POJO’s) to web resources. We have shown how easy it is to access CICS resources and expose them via the web in a way that is quick and easy to set up. This should just be the beginning of your journey to discover how the Liberty technology embedded in CICS can quickly and easily be used to create services that can be consumed in a range of programming languages and be the basis of a web site or mobile applications.

Useful links

Code download

The Java sample code from this article is available for download and can be imported into an Eclipse IDE using using the following procedure:

  1. Download the source from the cics-java-liberty-jaxrs GitHub repository
  2. Unzip the archive and copy the com/ibm/cics/wlp/devworks/jaxrs/web folder into the Java Resources/src folder of your web project

Change history

21/Mar/16 – article updated to refer to repository download
06/Apr/16 – code update to handle empty queue

4 comments on"Developing RESTful web services in Liberty with JAX-RS"

  1. Phil_Wakelin March 15, 2016

    If anyone is wondering how to convert this to an Web enabled OSGi bundle (WAB), then this can be done using the WDT wizard: Source -> Convert to OSGi bundle project, and then adding the right package imports, and then adding this WAB to an OSGi application project (EBA). Here is a working OSGI manifest for the converted WAB.

    Manifest-Version: 1.0
    Bundle-ManifestVersion: 2
    Bundle-Version: 1.0.0
    Bundle-ClassPath: WEB-INF/classes
    Web-ContextPath: /
    Bundle-RequiredExecutionEnvironment: JavaSE-1.7

  2. CICSChina May 26, 2016

    Very clear, thanks Phil for the good article!

  3. wonderful Describe very clear easy to understand

  4. Peter B Lange November 16, 2017

    Very useful. Idea for a topic could be how to produce a swagger from this that can be consumed in API Connect.

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