Thursday, January 7, 2010

Extend GeoServer with customized OWS service :: part 1

Recently I have been playing with GeoServer by following the online developer manual. Everything went smoothly until I found the OWS service section of programming guide still remains empty. Just out of curiosity and the believe that the best way to learn GeoServer is to extend it with either a new or a similar existing functionality, I decided to create a fake OWS service end point (I call it 'ags-ows' service, which I will explain later) in GeoServer.

This "ags-ows" service implements a minimum set of request parameters from ArcGIS Server RESTAPI for Map Service. To make it have more practical sense and also simple enough to fit in a sample a lot of optional parameters and details are omitted. The only function of "ags-ows" service is simply responding map images to an export request (in syntax of ArcGIS REST API) as below:


To simplify the problem further, only following request parameters will be recognized and accepted:
“bbox”, “layers”, “size”, “imageSR”, and “transparent”
And default values will be hard coded for optional request parameters listed below:
“format” as “image/png”
“bboxSR” as “4326”
“dpi” as 96
A sample response image from "ags-ows" service looks like:

Extending GeoServer with such an "ags-ows" service involves following steps:
  1. Checkout and build GeoServer existing source code from trunk;
  2. Create Eclipse project for "ags-ows" service and integrate it into existing GeoServer source code tree and build system;
  3. Create "ags-ows" service's application context (applicationContext.xml);
  4. Reuse org.geoserver.ows.Dispatcher to dispatch the request to "ags-ows" service;
  5. Extend org.geoserver.ows.KvpParser to parse request parameter;
  6. Extend org.geoserver.ows.KvpRequestReader to deal with "ags-ows" service requests;
  7. Extend org.geoserver.ows.Response to handle "ags-ows" service responses.
Now begin with this post and a few more following up, details will be explained for each step above.

Checkout and build GeoServer existing source code from trunk

All my works are based on GeoServer source code from trunk, but if you choose to work on a GeoServer code branch equal or higher than 2.0.0, it's also fine. As for building GeoServer from source code and run/debug it in built-in jetty web server, there are already more than enough materials covering the topic over the Internet so it won't be repeated here again. I myself though followed the instructions from GeoServer website's developer manual which works perfect.
Before jump into the next step, make sure you've successfully built the GeoServer source code from trunk, and also check if it can run in debug mode with jetty (run org.geoserver.web.Start class in web-app project as Java Application) web server so that you have a valid develop and debug platform to start with. The best way to validate it is to set a break point in GeoServer source (e.g. in org.geoserver.ows.Dispatcher) and send an OGC request (e.g. http://localhost:8080/geoserver/ows?service=WMS&request=GetCapabilities) to see if it stops at the break point as expected. If it is not working you'd better fix it before continuing.
Now if you think you've set up a decent develop/debug environment from GeoServer source code, you can move on.

Create Eclipse project and integrate into existing GeoServer source code tree and build system

To avoid modifying anything in existing GeoServer code base if possible (either GeoServer core modules or community/extension modules), I decided to create a new "groupId" called "playground" where my project for "ags-ows" service will go under it. "playground" is just a similar structure to the "extension" and "community" concept in current GeoServer source code tree.
  • Under \trunk\src\, create a folder called "playground".
  • Add a pom.xml (maven project file) in "playground" folder for GeoServer maven build process; (the pom.xml should look similar to the one under "extension" folder) Here is the pom.xml I use:
  • 1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
    2: <project xmlns="" 
    3:     xmlns:xsi="" 
    4:     xsi:schemaLocation=" 
    5:               ">
    6:   <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>
    7:   <parent>
    8:     <groupId>org.geoserver</groupId>
    9:     <artifactId>geoserver</artifactId>
    10:     <version>2.1-SNAPSHOT</version>
    11:   </parent>
    12:   <groupId>org.geoserver</groupId>
    13:   <artifactId>playground</artifactId>
    14:   <packaging>pom</packaging>
    15:   <name>GeoServer Playground Extensions</name>
    16:   <dependencies>
    17:     <dependency>
    18:       <groupId>org.geoserver</groupId>
    19:       <artifactId>platform</artifactId>
    20:     </dependency>
    21:   </dependencies>
    22:   <profiles>  
    23:     <profile>
    24:       <id>ags-ows</id>
    25:       <modules>
    26:         <module>ags-ows</module>
    27:       </modules>
    28:     </profile>    
    29:     <profile>
    30:       <id>allPlaygroundExtensions</id>
    31:       <modules>        
    32:         <module>ags-ows</module>    
    33:       </modules>
    34:     </profile>
    35:     <!--  
    36:     <profile>
    37:       <id>release</id>
    38:       <modules>
    39:         <module>ags-ows</module>    
    40:       </modules>
    41:     </profile>
    42:     -->
    43:   </profiles>
    44: </project>
  • Every project under "playground" should be listed as a "profile" so that when building GeoServer with maven those projects can be referenced. By default "mvn clean install" doesn't include any extension or community projects as well as those in "playground" folder. So it's very useful to add another profile just for maven to include all "playground" modules in building process, which I call "allPlaygroundExtensions" (similar to profile "allExtensions" in extension module). Optionally you can create another profile called "release". 
  • Modify the pom.xml under \trunk\src of GeoServer source code to includes modules defined under "playground" folder (that's probably the only thing I need to touch on existing GeoServer code). Open pom.xml under \trunk\src and locate following section, and add "<module>playgound</module>" to include all "playground" projects defined in the pom.xml under playground folder.
  • 1:  <modules>
    2:   <module>maven</module>
    3:   <module>platform</module>
    4:   <module>main</module>
    5:   <module>wcs</module>
    6:   <module>wcs1_0</module>
    7:   <module>wcs1_1</module>
    8:   <module>wfs</module>
    9:   <module>wms</module>
    10:   <module>ows</module>
    11:   <module>gwc</module>
    12:   <module>rest</module>
    13:   <module>web</module>
    14:   <module>community</module>
    15:   <module>extension</module>
    16:   <module>playground</module>
    17:  </modules>
  • Under "playground" folder, create a folder structure for "ags-ows" service project like below (since "ags-ows" is the name I gave for "ags-ows" service project in playgroud group's pom.xml, I will name the root folder after it):


  • Add a pom.xml in ags-ows folder like below: (be careful on the "version" to reflect your specific environment, as well as highlighted places; also list all your dependencies)
  • 1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    2: <project xmlns:xsi="" 
    3:     xmlns="" 
    4:     xsi:schemalocation=" 
    5:               ">
    6:   <modelversion>4.0.0</modelversion>
    7:   <parent>
    8:     <groupid>org.geoserver</groupid>
    9:     <artifactid>playground</artifactid>
    10:     <version>2.1-SNAPSHOT</version>
    11:   </parent>
    12:   <groupid>org.geoserver.playground</groupid>
    13:   <artifactid>ags-ows</artifactid>
    14:   <packaging>jar</packaging>
    15:   <name>ArcGIS Server OWS Service Module</name>
    16:   <dependencies>
    17:     <dependency>
    18:       <groupid>org.geoserver</groupid>
    19:       <artifactid>main</artifactid>
    20:     </dependency>
    21:     <dependency>
    22:       <groupid>org.geoserver</groupid>
    23:       <artifactid>ows</artifactid>
    24:     </dependency>
    25:     <dependency>
    26:       <groupid>org.geoserver</groupid>
    27:       <artifactid>wms</artifactid>
    28:     </dependency>
    29:     <dependency>
    30:       <groupid>org.geoserver</groupid>
    31:       <artifactid>wfs</artifactid>
    32:     </dependency>
    33:     <dependency>
    34:       <groupid>org.geotools</groupid>
    35:       <artifactid>gt-render</artifactid>
    36:     </dependency>
    37:     <dependency>
    38:       <groupid>org.geotools</groupid>
    39:       <artifactid>gt-shapefile-renderer</artifactid>
    40:     </dependency>
    41:   </dependencies>
    42: </project>
  • Rebuild GeoServer with "-P allPlaygroundExtensions" option; (go to \trunk\src and execute "mvn clean install -P allPlaygroundExtensions" to build GeoServer from source with all projects in playground group)
  • Create Eclipse project file after a successful build, still under \trunk\src execute "mvn eclipse:eclipse -P allPlaygroundExtensions" to generate eclipse project files. Don't forget -P allPlaygroundExtensions otherwise projects in playground won't be imported into eclipse.
  • Import all projects under \trunk\src\ into Eclipse;

    Other than projects for normal GeoServer modules (e.g. web-app, wms, wfs, etc), you should have one more project (in this case, it should be called "ags-ows"). Check the "ags-ows" project to make sure all 3rd party library jar files are there (if accessible through remote Maven repository, otherwise you will get build failure until manually copied). If you list any other GeoServer modules (e.g. "main"), they should be added and listed under the "Projects" tab of "Java Build Path" of the project.
  • To use "ags-ows" service in GeoServer, you can either do:
    • 1. Drop built jar (e.g. xxx-snapshot-2.1.jar) into GeoServer's exploded war's WEB-INF/lib folder and restart GeoServer;
    • 2. Include "ags-ows" project in GeoServer's web-app project's java build path, and restart GeoServer.
Up to this point if you follow the steps above without any problem, you should already have a functional GeoServer "ags-ows" service extension, it just doesn't do anything but provide you a develop and debug environment within GeoServer codebase. Anyway it's a good start point and I will provide more details on the concrete functionality soon in next blog entry.


  1. Thanks for great article.
    p.s. Your pom for ags-ows folder is incorrect due to incorrect spelling of groupId and artifactId.

  2. Thanks a lot for the feedback, did you mean following is not correct?


  3. You should replace groupid by groupId, ect, or you'll get errors.

    p.s. sorry for my poor English :)

  4. Hi i found this article very interesting and i need to package some examples similar to the ones you developed. Do you have the code hosted on some public repository?
    thanks very much! :-)
    Alfredo Serafini