Java – AJAX Using a REST API Without Server Side Framework


I am building a REST based API (Read only) for accessing services of my application. I plan on writing a web application that will leverage these APIs to provide basic information on the status of the application. I plan to use AJAX (using jQuery) to show the information.

Originally I planned on using Grails, Spring MVC, RoR or one of the web frameworks to handle the back end of my application. The REST APIs I will be providing though are already built on a stanalone REST framework so I would only be leveraging the web framework for the core application and not the business logic. In the future, I might need the server side framework to handle other tasks but for now most of the work is done in the REST APIs.

My question is, should I bother with using a web application framework on the server side? I should be able to make all the API calls I need from AJAX directly from the browser. I cannot think of much I would need to do on the server side. Would it make sense to have the application be standard HTML + AJAX + REST?

Best Solution

Its hard to say without actually knowing more about your current setup. This is what your situation sounds like:

  • You already have an app ready to go with all of the business logic contained. Sounds like its written in Java?
  • You already have the services written and exposed through a REST api using some other standalone framework. Meaning that if you wanted to, you could access the data right now with the browser without any extra work.
  • You have not yet built the web application, but when you do, it will get all of its content from the REST api using XHR and jquery. I say that, because otherwise, I would think that you would already be using some kind of framework to generate the other content.

If I am correct in my assumptions, then I would say that you have no need for an additional framework layer. Grails, RoR, SpringMVC my use ajax, and aid in exposing REST services, but the bulk of what they provide is an easy way to make an application that must generate html on the server, deal with form submissions, and handle sessions in a request/response cycle. It doesn't really sound like you'll be doing any of that, and it will likely make your app more complicated.

If you did at some point need the things that rails etc. provides, I would say that you may not need to use rails to expose the rest apis you have now. You could use rails just for what you need, and continue to use what you have for the REST api.