Spring Cloud Contract, Completing the Consumer Driven Contracts Story

A new release of Spring Cloud, Hoxton, is gathering steam. Part of Milestone 2 release is a feature I have been looking forward to for Spring Cloud Contract (SCC), the ability to generate stubs directly off of contracts. In this article we are going to take a look at what this means and how to use this new feature.

Consumer Driven Contracts in a Polyglot World

Last year SCC implemented the functionality that allowed clients to write contracts without having to be familiar with the Java tech stack. This was done by supporting a YAML DSL for defining contracts and providing two Docker images, one that could consume contracts and validates a service is meeting the contracts and the other that can consume stubs so it could act as a mock of the service the contracts were written for. For more information on this, check out this blog article by Marcin Grzejszczak.

A common approach in many Java shops is to have a backend written in Java (i.e. the producer service), but the frontend UI (i.e. the consumer) written in JavaScript. By removing the reliance on Java specific technologies when writing contracts, this made writing contracts more accessible to frontend developers. By allowing the consumers to write the contracts you are able to do a work flow called Consumer Driven Contract Development. The consumers write a contract, telling a producer what they need in a format that can be validated programmatically, and then a producer developer can write, or update, the producer service to meet the requirements of the contract.

Consumer Driven Contract Development is a desirable development paradigm because it is a “pull” rather than “push” concept. Instead of producers “guessing” what a consumer might need, you allow the consumers to define the behavior they need from the producer. This helps to producers avoid building APIs consumers don’t need, or building APIs that are difficult for consumers to, well, consume.

We Keep Waiting on the Service to Change

While SCC’s changes allowed consumers to write contracts with technologies they were more familiar with, the consumer driven contract story was still a bit hollow. SCC had a Docker images that could act as a mock of the service, however it relied upon the availability of stubs. These stubs were only generated after the contracts were validated against the producer service confirming the producer service fulfilled the contracts.

A developer building a consumer could write a contract, but until the producer service actually implemented the behavior defined in the contract, the consumer wouldn’t be able to use the mock service. This could stall development on the consumer side for days or even longer depending on the workload and priorities of the developers of the producer service. If we are going to have consumer driven contracts, we need to allow consumers to be able to develop independently of producers. The contracts are still there, and since both parties are developing based on the contract, they should still arrive at the same point.

Running a Mock Service from Contracts

With the M2 Spring Hoxton release, SCC added the functionality to run a mock service directly from contracts. I have been presenting this year about Spring Cloud Contract, and how it can be used to do Collaborative Contract Driven Development, here is my presentation from Spring I/O in Barcelona back in May. I’m happy that now with the ability to run the mock service directly from contracts, this better completes the story in my presentation.

I have created a GitHub project for demonstrating how to use Spring Cloud Contract. The project has a repo for the producer, client (consumer), and a repo for the contracts. If you clone the client repo, you can see SCC’s new functionality in action by executing the run-produce-service-mock-no-stubs.sh script. The script contains the following:

docker run --rm \
-e "STUBRUNNER_IDS=com.ibm.developer:produce-service:+:stubs:9876" \
-e "STUBRUNNER_REPOSITORY_ROOT=git://https://github.com/wkorando/produce-contracts.git" \
-e "STUBRUNNER_STUBS_MODE=REMOTE" \
-e "STUBRUNNER_GENERATE_STUBS=TRUE" \
-p "8083:8083" \
-p "9876:9876" \
springcloud/spring-cloud-contract-stub-runner:2.2.0.BUILD-SNAPSHOT

This script is running a docker image and passing in some environment variables. Let’s take a look at some of the key values being passed in:

  • ​​​​​STUBRUNNER_REPOSITORY_ROOT This is telling the Docker image where the contracts reside
  • STUBRUNNER_STUBS_MODE This is telling the docker image the contracts are in a remote location (in this case a GitHub repo)
  • STUBRUNNER_GENERATE_STUBS This is variable that was added that tells the Docker image to build stubs directly off the contracts we sent
  • -p "9876:9876" This is telling the Docker image to have the mock service running on port 9876

Executing the script will have a mock service running on http://localhost:9876. If you look at the documentation that we generate from the contracts, you can see some of what the mock service is capable of doing. If you call the url http://localhost:9876/api/v1/produce you will get back a JSON list of produce items. You can also see how this works when working with a real UI by cloning this repository and running <span class="s1">npm run start:contract.

Conclusion

The GA release of Spring Cloud Hoxton should be available later this fall. The ability to generate stubs straight from contracts is a significant step forward in completing the Consumer Driven story. It’s a feature I have been looking forward to since I first started with with Spring Cloud Contract a few years back. If you are attending Spring One Platform next week and are interested in learning more about contract driven development, be sure to swing by my presentation on Thursday Collaborative Contract Driven Development.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s