Consuming a REST Service

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With the REST services module from the Mendix Appstore, the full power of JSON-based REST APIs is available to Mendix developers. The module serves three goals: consuming services, publishing services and synchronizing data between (Mendix) apps by combining consume and publish. In this how-to, you will consume a JSON-based REST services by integrating with the API of the world famous Rijksmuseum which allows us to search for art.

After this how-to you will know:

  • How to create a GET REST Service
  • How to create a POST REST Service

1. Preparations

In this chapter you will download the REST module from the App store and test your service in the browser first. The service tested in this how-to is the API of the Rijksmuseum to search for art. You will be consuming the following endpoint

  1. Open the Mendix Modeler.
  2. Open the App Store.
  3. Download the latest REST Services module from the App Store.
  4. Download the latest Community Commons Functions Library module from the App Store.
  5. Test your service in the browser by filling in both fields in the URL stated above (you can use _Van Gogh_ as example search query), this should result in something similar to the following JSON fragment: 

2. Creating a Data Model for the REST Service

In this chapter you will define a data model to consume this service. You will create a Query entity to store the search request, and a Results object to store the result. Then you will add all interesting pieces of the result JSON to your domain model, in such a way that it reflects the structure of the JSON response, according to the JSON deserialization rules described here.

{ = Object

[{ = List of objects

[ = List: To be able to map a list of String-/Float-/Boolean values, you need to set a many to many association to the Primitive entity in your RestServices module, or a subclass of the Primitive entity.

  1. Create a non-persistable Query object and name the attribute the same as the query parameter (case sensitive).
  2. Create a non-persistable Results object to store the result and link it to the Query entity to be able to display the results in the interface. Create your entity structure based on the JSON structure, starting from the Results entity. Make sure you rename the association to the name of the JSON object.

  3. Create a non-persistable entity called ArtObject with two attributes:

    • title - principalOrFirstMaker
  4. Create a many to many (-) association between the Results entity and the ArtObject entity.

  5. Rename to association to artObjects.

  6. Create a non-persistable entity called Image with one attribute called url (string).

  7. Create a one to many (1-*) association between the ArtObject entity and the Image entity and call it webImage.

  8. Create a non-persistable entity called ProductionPlace.

  9. Make a Generalization to RestServices.Primitive.

  10. Create a many to many (-) association between the ArtObject entity and the ProductionPlace entity and call it productionPlaces.

Your Domain Model should look similar to this:


A: List of objects, association: artObjects

B: Attribute title of ArtObject entity (you can name the entity anything you want, attribute has to be exactly the same)

C: Single object, association: headerImage

D: List of strings, association: productionPlaces

3. Creating the results page

In the previous section you have created a domain model to map the JSON structure to. In this chapter you will create a page that allows users to enter a search query, show the results in a data grid over the provided association, and add a button that will execute the search for you.

Using a Microflow as Data Source

  1. Create a new page called SearchArt.
  2. Add a data view with Data source Type Microflow.
  3. Click Select….
  4. Create a new Microflow and call it DS_NewSearchQuery.
  5. Add a Create object activity.
  6. Select the Query entity.
  7. Name it NewQuery and click OK.
  8. Open the properties of the End Event and select Type: Object.
  9. Select the Query entity.
  10. Under Return value enter $NewQuery and click OK.
  11. Save the Microflow.

Creating the Search and Result pages

  1. Go back to the SearchArt page.
  2. Add a Group Box to the page.
  3. Add a new table with three columns.
  4. In the first column enter Search the Rijksmuseum.
  5. Add the Query > q attribute to the middle column.
  6. Add a Microflow button to the last column.
  7. Add a nested Results data view inside the Query data view and add a nested ArtObject template grid inside the Results data view. 
  8. Add the following fields to the ArtObject template grid.

    You can download the Image Viewer widget from the Appstore, and add the url attribute to the Image attribute at the properties section.

  9. Add the created page to your navigation.

4. Consuming the Service using a Get Request

In the previous section you have created a page that allows users to enter the search query, show the results in a data grid over the provided association, and add a button that will execute the search for you. In this section you will consume the service in the Search microflow, using the Get request to retrieve data.

  1. Create a microflow with Query as input parameter and link it to the Search button.
  2. Create a new Results object and add the request Java Action to the microflow. 

  3. Add a request Java Action with the following details:

    url'' + <API_Key> + '&format=json'

    You have now requested the data from Rijksmuseum and the data has been mapped to your Results- and associated entities.

  4. Add a Change object activity and link the NewResults object to the Query object. This will show the search results on the page.

  5. Run your application and search for van Gogh. You will see the following results:

5. Consuming the REST service with a POST request

In the previous sections you have retrieved data from the Rijksmuseum with a GET request. In this section you will create a microflow to hypothetically send data back to the Rijksmuseum. There is no POST service available, but this example demonstrates how you would setup a POST request if there was.

  1. Open the SearchArt page.
  2. Add a Microflow button to the search page and name it Update
  3. Add an Edit button to the ArtObject template grid so you can change data of the result. 

  4. Create a Microflow for the Update button and add the following:

    • Input Parameter: Results
    • Java action: Request

      url'' + <API_Key> + '&format=json'
      optRequestData$Results (ideally you would name it Request)
      optResponseDataAdd here the entity you can map the response to (if a response is available from the service)

      If you now change data of one of the objects linked to the Results object you are passing on to the microflow, the POST request will update the other system accordingly.