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Reloading CF web services programmatically, using the CF7 Admin API

I'm surprised to not see much out there about how to reload or refresh CF's cached WSDL proxy for calling a web service, at least programmatically using the new CF 7 Admin API. Perhaps it's because people have been tripped up, or simply haven't explored it. Either way, I'd like to offer here the code you need, and also point out some tips and traps.

Update for CF8: As an update to this entry from 2006, which is focused on CF7, I'll note that there was yet another approach that was added in CF8. Both still work and have their own value. More on the CF8 feature in my later blog entry. Still, the feature added in CF7 is important to understand, too, so please read on.

Introduction: Why You Would Want to

As background, someone reported having a problem calling a web service from CFML, and a solution suggested was that the person reload or refresh the web service using the CFMX Admin console (in the "Data & Services" > "Web Services" nav bar tab. There, you'll find any web services that have been called from CF (which is often a surprise to folks that they're tracked there). For each listed web service, there are 3 buttons and the middle one does a refresh (which means it goes and grabs the WSDL and builds a local java proxy stub, which is used when you then invoke the web service).

But one may then wonder how to do that programmatically, without having to open the Admin console. In CFMX 6.1, you could use the undocumented ServiceFactory, as I'll show below to those still using that. But since that's being deprecated, you really ought to learn the new CF7 approach.

The CF 7 Admin API Approach

As of CFMX 7, we are expected to use the new Admin API, a set of CFCs provided with CFMX 7, which offer a formal, secured API for accessing functionality otherwise offered in the Admin console.

So how would one do that to refresh a web service? Well, there is an extensions.cfc in the Admin API (a set of CFCs in the webroot's /CFIDE/adminapi/ directory), and it has a reloadWebService method that's just the trick. How did I know that? You can call the built-in CFC documentor by browsing the CFC directly:

http://<em>[servername]</em>/cfide/adminapi/extensions.cfc

Before you can call that, though, note that you do need to "login" to the Admin API by calling the login method of the administrator.cfc first. (Check out its docs to learn more.)

But to save you that effort, here's some code. (As always there are several ways to call a CFC and its methods (using CFINVOKE or CFOBJECT, or createObject either within CFSCRIPT or not), but here's at least one approach.):

<cfset createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.administrator").login("youradminpw")>
<cfset ws = createobject("component","CFIDE.adminapi.extensions")>
<cfset ws.reloadWebService(name="<em>webservicename</em>",path="<em>WSDLurl</em>")>

Note that you need to specify your own admin password in the first line, and in the last line you need to specify a web service name and its WSDL URL.

What's with this notion of passing in a web service "name"?

As you contemplate that code, you will certainly know what the WSDL URL is, since it's the same one you'd use in a CFINVOKE or CFOBJECT/createobject call of the web service itself. But what's the "name" requested here? Well, that can trip you up and it deserves further discussion, as it has several ramifications as I'll explain here.

The name is the name shown in the Admin console for the given web service. The trick/trap is that if you never open and change the Admin console entry for this web service, then the name will simply be the same value as the WSDL URL. But there's more to understand.

First, if you didn't know it, one can edit that "name" in the Admin console, and then one can even use that "name" as an alternative (or "alias") to the web service WSDL URL when invoking the web service from CFML. That's a whole separate subject which I've covered in user group talks in the past.

But assuming that no one has modified the web service name (or for reasons I'll explain in a moment, if you are not using such an alias name when you invoke the web service), then you can presume the name and WSDL URL to be the same. As an example, one could change the last line above to:

Getting Web Service Names Programmatically

Now may wonder, "can I get the web service name programmatically?" You can. But here's where it gets a little confusing. There is an available getwebservices method of the extensions.cfc. And according to the docs, you can either pass in the "name" of the webservice, or leave it off to get all web services. If we don't know the name, then we may think we'd want to use the latter approach. But I find that it doesn't quite work as straightforwardly as it seems.

First, I tried calling getwebservices() without a name:

<cfset createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.administrator").login("youradminpw")>
<cfset ws = createobject("component","CFIDE.adminapi.extensions")>
<cfdump var="#ws.getwebservices()#">

Sadly, it returned an empty dump as a result. Yet I had several web services listed in my admin console. Here's the thing: none had a name. I then renamed one of them (to "test"), and tried it again, and suddenly the call did return an array of structures (1, in my case) with the name and WSDL URL.

Hmm. So it seems instead that the getwebservices() ought perhaps instead be named getnamedwebservices(), since it only returns web services whose names have been changed (been given an alias).

Still, though, if I do pass in a name, as the docs suggest, then I do indeed get the same result:

<cfset createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.administrator").login("youradminpw")>
<cfset ws = createobject("component","CFIDE.adminapi.extensions")>
<cfdump var="#ws.getwebservices("test")#">

Now, you may wonder: "if I can't a listing unless I know the name, or can only get a list of 'all' of them if they are named, then how might I get the info for ones that have no name or whose name I don't know?"

Good question. And guess what I've found? A couple of important things.

First, I've found that you can also pass in the WSDL URL, even for a web service that's been renamed with an alias like "test", such that this works:

<cfset createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.administrator").login("youradminpw")>
<cfset ws = createobject("component","CFIDE.adminapi.extensions")>
<cfdump var="#ws.getwebservices("http://ws.invesbot.com/stockquotes.asmx?WSDL")#">

Again, that's not the web service name but the WSDL URL. And the resulting dump shows the name and that URL. So the API docs on this are a little misleading.

Be sure to refresh the "right" webservice: the one you'd really try calling

But perhaps a more important thing is that I found that you can have a web service entry for the SAME WSDL URL but with different names/aliases. Why is this important? Because you want to make sure you refresh whichever one you're using.

This goes back to my point above when I introduced the refreshWebService method: you need to give it the name as YOU call the web service, otherwise you'll be refreshing a different proxy stub and won't see the benefit you expect.

If you use the WSDL URL when you invoke the web service, then that will create a proxy stub with that "name", and therefore you want to use that as the "name" when you refresh it.

If you rename a web service in the Admin console, and then use that when you invoke the web service, then you want to use that as the "name" when you refresh it.

Refreshing Web Services Using the ServiceFactory

Since some folks reading this may not have moved to CF 7, let me show how you could do the same using CFMX 6/6.1 (or indeed 7, since it still works there). It's important to note, however, that using the ServiceFactory is not only not documented but it's also not supported. It has security problems (since there's no need to provide the admin password as you must in the Admin API). Also, it may eventually be obsoleted or otherwise restricted.

Still, since it's been documented by others in the past and is readily available on the web, I'll offer it here:

<cfobject action="CREATE" type="JAVA" class="coldfusion.server.ServiceFactory" name="ServiceFactory">
<cfset ServiceFactory.getXMLRPCService().refreshWebService("<em>webservicename</em>")>

Now, you'll notice that I've indicated that the value passed into the refreshWebService method is the webservicename. That's because it works just like the Admin API reloadWebService discussed at the top here. Be sure to specify the name as you would use it in the invocation of the web service (whether an alias or the full URL).

How to Confirm That Refreshing is Working

As you try these three approaches (Admin button, Admin API, and ServiceFactory), you will probably benefit greatly from being able to see for sure that the refresh/reload is updating the java proxy/stub class files. Where do you find them? They're stored in a "stubs" directory under your CFMX install directory, such as C:\CFusionMX\stubs or C:\CFusionMX7\stubs.

Then, under that, you will find directory names such as WS141836989, or a name that's the same as the alias/name you give to a web service in the Admin console. Inside those directories you will find other subdirectories, eventually finding some that hold the .class files representing the objects available in the web service. It's those .class files whose date/time stamp you want to see changing when you do a refresh/reload.

I'll note that there's no mapping or indication of that WSnnnn directory name, to know which one holds the web service you're interested in. I guess you just have to find the right one by looking for one whose class names map to the web service object you're calling. (If anyone knows a better connection, please do share it.)

Finally, I think it may be worth clarifying that when you do a refresh/reload of a web service using the approaches above, you need to have first made a call to that web service from CFML (or entered it manually in the admin console).

Hope all that's helpful.

Summary of Notes for Adobe Folks

Before I end, in case any Adobe folks are listening, here is a restatement (and expansion) of the couple of observations I made about wrong or undocumented functionality. This is for both the docs group and the engineers, since this is also about internal API documentation returned by the CFCs and their functionality:

  • getwebservices() only returns web services that have a name that was changed, whereas the API doc says it returns "all web services", so it either is working incorrectly or ought to be called getnamedwebservices instead
  • though not documented, getwebservices("wsdlurl") works also. The API docs say that it should only take a name (and I tested this against a web service where I had renamed it, so it was not getting it "by name")
  • if you do consider renaming the getwebservices() method to be called getnamedwebservices(), you might then also want to rename getwebservices(name) to getwebservice (singular), since it just gets one webservice
  • it would be nice to be able to refresh ALL webservices that use a given WSDL URL at once, perhaps by new method that accepts URL rather than name (and works for all occurrences of that URL in the cache, whether named with an alias or not)

Comments
Good stuff Charlie :-)
# Posted By Mike Givens | 12/12/06 10:48 PM
Thanks, Mike.

I also want to respond to a blog entry Simon Horwith wrote responding to this entry(http://www.horwith.c...). He used my observations here to launch an attack on people writing code that's "too reliant on Admin settings". From my read of it, it seems he's concluded that I'm writing here about some feature that one can choose to use or not, and he's arguing that when you have the option, you should choose not to.

But I hope careful readers of my entry will realize (and my response to his comment makes it plain) that what I describe above has nothing to do with an "optional admin feature". If you call web services from CFML, you may need to refresh the cached proxy/stub. You can do it via the Admin console, or you can do it programmatically. But if you have to do it, you have to do it.

There's no "admin feature" that you're taking advantage of which, according to his argument, you ought think twice about. As I said there, I think his goal is admirable, but he's simply mistaken in viewing my entry and its techniques as somehow emblematic of a bad practice he's arguing against.

I'll welcome feedback (there or here).

(The sad thing is that I don't know how many people have read his blog before my offering my comment just now. I toyed with writing this as a new blog entry, so that I might also reach those who have already read mine and won't see this comment either. For now, I think it's best to leave it as a comment-based rebuttal. Interesting challenges in this blog-based form of "the media".)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/13/06 10:35 AM
Just spent half a day trying to refresh a webservice using the domain name when it was defined in the code as IP address.

Thanks for expalining the reasons so well.
# Posted By Brendan | 3/27/07 11:19 AM
Having just recently been in a position to programmatically reload webservice definitions, I was rather disappointed to find that what you point out in your article is exactly true; namely, if you haven't got named webservices, you cannot get a collection of these unnamed webservices to iterate over.

The solution is actually a combination of your CF7 and CF6 approaches. Creating a serviceFactory object, you can get a collection of current wsdl url's by executing either the getUsernames or getPasswords methods:

<cfscript>
   // instantiate and authenticate to admin api
   adminObj = createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.administrator").login("youradminpass");
   
   // create the extensions object
   extObj = createObject("component","cfide.adminapi.extensions");
   
   // create a ServiceFactory object
   sf = createObject("java","coldfusion.server.ServiceFactory");
   
   // current webservices
   webservices = sf.getXMLRPCService().getUsernames();

if(not structisempty(webservices)) {
    for(ws in webservices) {
       extObj.reloadWebService(ws,ws);
    }
   }
</cfscript>

Appears to work for deletes as well. HTH someone, cause it really pissed me off for a bit ;)
# Posted By websolete | 11/1/07 4:25 PM
Thanks, websolete--though names are always appreciated. :-)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 11/1/07 5:17 PM
Very useful information Charlie, thanks.
# Posted By Anuj Gakhar | 11/14/07 8:58 AM
Thanks for the info, page bookmarked.

DMF
# Posted By Tipografie Timisoara | 12/21/07 6:03 AM
BTW you have any other info on this one ?
Thanks,
# Posted By DMF | 12/26/07 10:28 AM
What are you asking for, DMF? Can you clarify your question?
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/26/07 10:56 PM
I am talking about getting web service names programmatically. I would use more details.
# Posted By DMF | 12/27/07 5:45 AM
Still not clear, DMF. It seems your question is answered above with more detail than most could ever imagine possible. What could possibly remain unclear? :-) I'm starting to suspect you're a spammer, just trying to get your URL publicized, which you've placed in your comments and which I have removed. If you don't offer a more substantive reply I will be forced to conclude you are a spammer and block your IP address. Your fate rests in your hands. Prove me wrong.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/27/07 12:00 PM
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