a Flexible, composable & Extensible


Thierry Delprat



  • Quick introduction
    • provide some context
  • API design constraints & principles
    • explain the problem we want to solve
  • Building Nuxeo API
    • ​REST + Automation + Composition
  • Design consequences
    • price of flexibility

Some Context

What we Do and What Problems We Try to Solve


we provide a Platform that developers can use to
build highly customized Content Applications

we provide components, and the tools to assemble them

everything we do is open source


various customers - various use cases 


me: developer & CTO - joined the Nuxeo project 10+ years ago

Track game builds

Electronic Flight Bags

Central repository for Models

Food industry PLM


Nuxeo Platform




  • Workflows, Conversions, Diff, Notifications, Activity  ...

Why API is Key for us


  • Nuxeo  Repository is a backend 
    • Portals, Mobile Apps, ERP, CRM ...
  • API is UI 
    • for the developers
    • HTML5/JS

Plugability Challenge

  • In Nuxeo architecture everything is a plugin
    • Nuxeo Server can provide a single service or 100's of services
  • ​Everything is configurable
    • ​Logic and Data Structrures depends on configuration

API Challenge

"One API​"

​Multiple combinations
services, plugins
and Domain Models

Expose a Platform: not an application 

developers using the platform
want to expose the API of their Application

Need to find a solution

One Platform      "One API​"


Design Principles

what we want to have

Be Efficient

  • Avoid round trips 
    • Get all needed data in one call
    • Resolve some data on the server side

  • Avoid fetching too much data 

Be Flexible

  • Adapt to the server side configuration
    • Domain model definition
  •  ​Adapt to client side requirements
    • Provide data for the screen mapping
    • Application can have different flavors

Keep it clean

  • Work between transaction boundaries
    • do all the work in one call
  •  ​Ensure isolation
    • Other users should not see inconsistent data
  • Maintain encapsulation
    • ​Client should not make assertion on server implementation 

Client consumes a service, it does not build the service.

Be Extensible

  • Expose any meaningful business API 
    • Make API clean  and application maintenance easy
  •  ​Adapt API granularity to the target Applications
    • one API behind each single button

We can not build the target Business API: users/devs will do it


Manage the meta-model
Choose what API is exposed


Ask for the data they need
Use custom API

(versioned software artifact)

Client driven

Server controlled

"open bar"     seems too messy

"one-size-fits-all"     does not work

Balance client/server roles

Blob Friendly

  • Chunked & Out of band upload

  • Cachable and Seekable download 
Content-Type: multipart/mixed

Be sensible

  • Do not lose our soul
    • fight to keep the dynamicity of the platform!
  • No REST integrism 
    • Useful is more important than Beautiful
  • Dogfooding is key  
    • if this is not good enough internally, this is not good
  • ​Building API is part of the development cycle
    • ​adding http API should never be a task for later


Build something that works


Actually, just the chronology has been adjusted !


Exposing  Resources

ExposING resources


Target use cases are not defined


Target Domain Model is unknown

Expose raw technical resources !

Expose Use Cases !?

Expose the Domain Model !?

Expose simple resources

GET /repo/{repoId}/path/{docPath} HTTP 1.1
GET /repo/{repoId}/id/{docId} HTTP 1.1
GET /user/{userName} HTTP 1.1
GET /group/{groupName} HTTP 1.1
GET /directory/{directoryName}/{entryId} HTTP 1.1
GET /workflowModel/{modelName} HTTP 1.1
GET /workflow/{workflowInstanceId} HTTP 1.1
GET /task/{taskId} HTTP 1.1


Users &

Tasks &

Expose raw resources as EndPoint with REST Bindings 

Expose simple resources


Get a Document

GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars HTTP/1.1
  "entity-type": "document",
  "repository": "default",
  "uid": "5b352650-e49e-48cf-a4e3-bf97b518e7bf",
  "path": "/movies/star-wars",
  "type": "MovieCollection",
  "isCheckedOut": true,
  "title": "Star Wars",
  "facets": [

Server returns a minimal payload

Adaptative marshaling

Client need to control what data schemas are sent    

Adaptative marshaling

  • Control what data schemas are sent to the client   
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars HTTP/1.1
X-NXProperties dublincore, common
  "entity-type": "document",
  "repository": "default",
  "uid": "5b352650-e49e-48cf-a4e3-bf97b518e7bf",
  "path": "/movies/star-wars",
  "type": "MovieCollection",
  "isCheckedOut": true,
  "title": "Star Wars",
  "properties": {
    "common:icon": "/icons/movieCollection.png",
    "dc:description": "Star Wars collection",
    "dc:creator": "tiry",
    "dc:modified": "2015-10-22T02:12:59.07Z",
    "dc:lastContributor": "tiry",
    "dc:created": "2015-10-22T02:12:59.07Z",
    "dc:title": "Star Wars",
    "dc:contributors": [tiry, "system" ]
  "facets": [

Fetching CONTEXTUAL data

  • Client may require more data
    • get Document children at the same time
    • get the breadcrumb data
    • get thumbnail or preview url
    • ...
  • Client ask for the data
    • using Headers
    • using Query String parameters  

Fetching CONTEXTUAL data

Marshaling registry is pluggable

custom Enrichers can be contributed

"How the data is fetched"
is a server side matter 

Fetching CONTEXTUAL data

GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars HTTP/1.1
X-NXenrichers.document: thumbnail
  "entity-type": "document",
  "repository": "default",
  "uid": "5b352650-e49e-48cf-a4e3-bf97b518e7bf",
  "path": "/movies/star-wars",
  "type": "MovieCollection",
  "isCheckedOut": true,
  "title": "Star Wars",
       "url": "/nuxeo/nxthumb/default/5b352650-e49e-48cf-a4e3-bf97b518e7bf/thumb:thumbnail/Small_photo.jpg"
  "facets": [
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars?enrichers.document=thumbnail HTTP/1.1

Retrieve Linked Data

  • Resolve entity fields
    • pointing to a label
    • pointing to an other Document
    • pointing to a User
    • ...
Implicit JOIN

Retrieve Linked Data

  • Use client side parameter to know what to resolve
    • header
    • QueryString parameter

  • Can be recursive
    • client need to control that too!



Retrieve Linked Data


  • Change the return type
    • get only ACLs or History info about the Document
    • get the tasks associated to document

  • Use your own business object
    •  use business Adapters
      • wrap document or documents 
      • provide custom marshaling 
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars@acl HTTP/1.1
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars@audit HTTP/1.1
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars@bo/MyBusinessObject HTTP/1.1



    entity-type: "MovieCollection"
    id: "5b352650-e49e-48cf-a4e3-bf97b518e7bf",
    "title": "Star Wars"
    "episodes": 7
GET /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars@bo/MovieCollection HTTP/1.1


  • Sent as links
    • Digest
    • CDN

  • Uploaded  out-of-band
    • ​chunking
    • reference in JSON 

Blob Upload

  • Upload EndPoint 

  • Reference Blobs from JSON Payload
{"entity-type": "document",
 "properties": {
   "file:content" : {
     "upload-batch' : "0b0061d48f69b072",
     "upload-fileId" : 0,
     "type" : "blob"
POST /api/v1/upload/{batchId}/{fileIdx} HTTP 1.1
X-Upload-Chunk-Index 0 
X-Upload-Chunk-Count 5
PUT /nuxeo/api/v1/path/movies/star-wars HTTP/1.1

Are We Happy with that ?

  • Efficiency
    • we can get all data in one call
  • Flexibility
    • we can configure the data we want
  • Extensibility: partial
    • enrichers, resolvers & adapters are not always enough
  • ​Coverage: poor
    • 100+ services and only 5 endpoints
    • not everything is CRUD

Need a way to map 100+ Services

Without creating 100 endpoints!

Need an other paradigm !


Exposing service API over HTTP


  • Build a coarse gained API on top of service Java API

    • select simple

  • Shell like commands !
    • each service can contribute
> commandA(p1,p2) | commandB(p3,p4)

Command synopsis


(Doc, Blob, User ...)

(Doc, Blob, User ...)


(User, Doc ...)


WebUI.AddErrorMessage   WebUI.AddInfoMessage   WebUI.AddMessage   Document.AddPermission   Document.AddToCollection   DocumentMultivaluedProperty.addItem   Task.ApplyDocumentMapping   Blob.AttachOnDocument   BlobHolder.AttachOnCurrentDocument   AttachFiles   Audit.QueryWithPageProvider   Blob.ImportClipboard   Blob.ImportWorklist   Blob.RunConverter   Document.BlockPermissionInheritance   WorkflowModel.BulkRestartInstances   Business.BusinessCreateOperation   Business.BusinessFetchOperation   Business.BusinessUpdateOperation   Navigation.GoBack   WorkflowInstance.Cancel   Navigation.ChangeCurrentTab   Document.CheckIn   Document.CheckOut   Update.NextStep.ConditionalFolder   WebUI.ClearClipboard   WebUI.ClearSelectedDocuments   WebUI.ClearWorklist   WorkflowTask.Complete   Blob.ConcatenatePDFs   Context.FetchDocument   Context.FetchFile   Blob.ToPDF   Blob.Convert   Document.Copy   Document.Create   FileManager.Import   UserWorkspace.CreateDocumentFromBlob   Seam.CreateDocumentInUI   Picture.Create   Document.CreateLiveProxy   Document.AddRelation   Collection.Create   Workflow.CreateRoutingTask   Task.Create   Directory.CreateEntries   Document.Delete   Document.DeleteRelation   Directory.DeleteEntries   WebUI.DestroySeamContext   Repository.GetDocument   Document.Export   WebUI.DownloadFile   Blob.ExportToFS   Document.FetchByProperty   Blob.CreateFromURL   FileManager.ImportInSeam   FileManager.ImportWithMetaData   FileManager.ImportWithMetaDataInSeam   Document.Filter   Document.FollowLifecycleTransition   Comment.Moderate   Document.GetBlobs   Document.GetChild   Document.GetChildren   Document.GetBlob   Document.GetBlobsByProperty   User.GetUserWorkspace   Document.GetLinkedDocuments   Proxy.GetSourceDocument   User.Get   Document.GetParent   Context.GetEmailsWithPermissionOnDoc   Context.GetTaskNames   Context.GetUsersGroupIdsWithPermissionOnDoc   Document.GetVersions   Directory.Projection   Collection.Suggestion   User.GetCollections   Directory.Entries   Directory.SuggestEntries   Collection.GetDocumentsFromCollection   Favorite.GetDocuments   Document.Routing.GetGraph   Picture.GetView   Workflow.GetOpenTasks   Tag.Suggestion   Task.GetAssigned   UserGroup.Suggestion   Document.GetRendition   Blob.PostToURL   Image.Blob.Resize   WebUI.InitSeamContext   JsonStack.ToggleDisplay   Actions.GET   GetRepositories   Document.Lock   Log   Audit.LogEvent   Auth.LoginAs   Auth.Logout   Document.Move   Document.PublishToSections   NRD-AC-PR-ChooseParticipants-Output   NRD-AC-PR-LockDocument   NRD-AC-PR-UnlockDocument   NRD-AC-PR-ValidateNode-Output   NRD-AC-PR-force-validate   NRD-AC-PR-storeTaskInfo   WebUI.NavigateTo   NuxeoDrive.SetActiveFactories   NuxeoDrive.AddToLocallyEditedCollection   NuxeoDrive.AttachBlob   NuxeoDrive.CanMove   NuxeoDrive.CreateFile   NuxeoDrive.CreateFolder   NuxeoDrive.CreateTestDocuments   NuxeoDrive.Delete   NuxeoDrive.FileSystemItemExists   NuxeoDrive.GenerateConflictedItemName   NuxeoDrive.GetRoots   NuxeoDrive.GetChangeSummary   NuxeoDrive.GetChildren   NuxeoDrive.GetClientUpdateInfo   NuxeoDrive.GetFileSystemItem   NuxeoDrive.GetTopLevelFolder   NuxeoDrive.GetTopLevelChildren   NuxeoDrive.Move   NuxeoDrive.SetSynchronization   NuxeoDrive.Rename   NuxeoDrive.SetVersioningOptions   NuxeoDrive.SetupIntegrationTests   NuxeoDrive.TearDownIntegrationTests   NuxeoDrive.UpdateFile   NuxeoDrive.WaitForElasticsearchCompletion   NuxeoDrive.WaitForAsyncCompletion   Repository.PageProvider   Context.PopDocument   Context.PopDocumentList   Context.PopBlob   Context.PopBlobList   Document.PublishToSection   Context.PullDocument   Context.PullDocumentList   Context.PullBlob   Context.PullBlobList   Context.PushDocument   Context.PushDocumentList   Context.PushBlob   Context.PushBlobList   WebUI.AddToClipboard   WebUI.PushDocumentToSeamContext   WebUI.AddToWorklist   LocalConfiguration.PutSimpleConfigurationParameters   LocalConfiguration.PutSimpleConfigurationParameter   Repository.Query   Audit.Query   Repository.ResultSetPageProvider   WebUI.RaiseSeamEvents   Blob.ReadMetadata   Context.SetMetadataFromBlob   Directory.ReadEntries   WebUI.Refresh   WebUI.Refresh   Document.RemoveACL   Services.RemoveDocumentTags   Document.RemoveEntryOfMultivaluedProperty   Blob.RemoveFromDocument   Document.RemovePermission   Document.RemoveProperty   Collection.RemoveFromCollection   Render.Document   Render.DocumentFeed   TemplateProcessor.Render   Document.ReplacePermission   Document.Reload   Picture.Resize   Context.RestoreDocumentInput   Context.RestoreDocumentsInput   Context.RestoreBlobInput   Context.RestoreBlobsInput   Document.RestoreVersion   Context.RestoreBlobInputFromScript   Context.RestoreBlobsInputFromScript   Context.RestoreDocumentInputFromScript   Context.RestoreDocumentsInputFromScript   Repository.ResultSetQuery   Document.Routing.Resume.Step   Workflow.ResumeNode   Counters.GET   RunOperation   RunDocumentOperation   Context.RunDocumentOperationInNewTx   RunFileOperation   RunOperationOnList   RunOperationOnProvider   RunOperationOnListInNewTx   RunInputScript   RunScript   WebUI.RunOperationInSeam   Document.Save   Seam.SaveDocumentInUI   Repository.SaveSession   SeamActions.GET   Document.Mail   Event.Fire   Document.AddACE   Context.SetVar   Context.SetInputAsVar   LocalConfiguration.SetSimpleConfigurationParameterAsVar   Document.Routing.SetRunningStepFromTask   Document.SetBlob   Document.SetBlobName   WebUI.SetJSFOutcome   Workflow.SetNodeVariable   Document.Routing.Step.Done   Document.Routing.BackToReady   Document.Routing.EvaluateCondition   Context.SetWorkflowVar   WebUI.ShowCreateForm   Document.CreateVersion   Context.StartWorkflow   Search.SuggestersLauncher   Services.TagDocument   Traces.Get   Traces.ToggleRecording   Document.SetMetadataFromBlob   Seam.GetChangeableDocument   Seam.FetchFromClipboard   Seam.GetCurrentDocument   Seam.GetCurrentDomain   Seam.GetCurrentWorkspace   Seam.FetchDocument   Seam.GetSelectedDocuments   Seam.GetDocumentsFromSelectionList   Seam.FetchFromWorklist   Document.Unlock   Document.UnblockPermissionInheritance   Services.UntagDocument   Document.Update   Document.SetProperty   Document.Routing.UpdateCommentsInfoOnDocument   Directory.UpdateEntries   Workflow.UserTaskPageProvider   VersionAndAttachFile   VersionAndAttachFiles   Blob.SetMetadataFromDocument   Blob.SetMetadataFromContext   Blob.CreateZip   acceptComment   addCurrentDocumentToWorklist   blobToPDF   cancelWorkflow   conditionalTask   decideNextStepAndSimpleValidate   downloadFilesZip   evaluateCondition   followLifeCycleTransition   followLifeCycleTransitionTask   initInitiatorComment   logInAudit   nextAssignee   notifyInitiatorEndOfWorkflow   publishDocument   publishTask   reinitAssigneeComment   rejectComment   Workflow.RemoveRoutingTask   sendTaskCreatedNotificationMail   setDone   setNextStep   setTaskDone   simpleChooseNextOption1AndDone   simpleChooseNextOption2AndDone   simpleRefuse   simpleTask   simpleUndo   simpleValidate   terminateWorkflow   undoRunningTask   updateCommentsOnDoc   validateDocument   voidChain   xmlExportRendition   zipTreeExportRendition



lot of contributed operations


Commands as REST resources

  • GET to retrieve definition

  • POST to execute

Get an Operation

GET /nuxeo/api/v1/automation/Document.PageProvider HTTP/1.1
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json
    "description":"Perform a query ...",
    "signature":[ "void", "documents" ],
      {  "name":"page",
         "required":false, },
      ... ]

Get an Operation

Run an Operation

POST /nuxeo/api/v1/automation/Document.PageProvider HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: application/json+nxrequest
{ "params" :
    { "query" : "select * from Note",
      "page" : 0
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json
  "entity-type": "documents",
  "pageIndex": 0,
  "pageSize": 2,
  "pageCount": 2,
  "entries": [
      "entity-type": "document",
      "repository": "default",
      "uid": "3f76a415-ad73-4522-9450-d12af25b7fb4",
    }, { ...}, ...

Resources & Automation

  • Share the marshaling layer and extension
    • ​Enrichers, Resolvers are available too
  • Compose Resources and Automation API
    • Pipe Resources as input for Automation Operation  
> cat /doc/path/somedoc | command(p3,p4)

Resources & Automation


POST /nuxeo/api/v1/path/somePath/@op/Blob.ToPDF HTTP/1.1
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/pdf

Are We Happy with that ?

  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Coverage
    • all services and plugins can contribute
  • Extensibility
    • good, but limited to Java Developers
  • ​Consistency
    • still no way to align Application Transactions

More Composition

assemble API blocks without having to code 

build business API


Expose the API that matches client needs


  • Tailor the API to match application requirements
    • one API behind every action / button
  • Allow business analysts or UI developers to tailor the API
    • define what API is exposed
      • UI & Workflow needs

Automation Chain

  • Assemble operations in a chain
  • Pipe Output / Input
  • Give it a name
  • Call and execute within a
    single transaction   

Server side assembly

One Context

Assembling Chains

It does work !

  • Business users & Front end developers leverage this 
    • to expose custom API for their UI
    • to build custom logic inside their Workflows
    • to add automatic processing (listeners)
  • Actually it works almost too well
    • users do awfully complicated  things
    • chains calling chains calling chains ...

Have We Created a Monster ?

Use Nashorn to assemble operations

  • Operations remain the building blocks
  • JavaScript is the glue code to assemble them

Go Further than the chain Model

better control of the flow

Are We Happy with that ?

  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Coverage
  • Extensibility
  • ​Consistency


What about the trade-off ?

Dynamic API Comes with a price

  • Documentation is a challenge
    • maintain up to date and exhaustive
  • Clients needs to deal with the dynamic aspect
    • data mapping
    • discover APIs
  • Debugging API calls can be challenging

Introspection is a requirement


  • Trace feature
    • Allow client to retrieve traces of nested executions (dev mode)
  • Introspect the Command API
    • GET retrieve definition + doc
  • Add REST API to introspect configuration resources 
    • Document types, Schemas
    • (Widgets & Forms)

Provide a Playground to test

  • connect to a remote server
  • introspect server API and structures​ 


Introspect Data Structures


Introspect Resources


Introspect Command API

Introspection In Action

Using introspection from Mule ESB DataSense

Clients libs

      Dynamic API        more complex to use !?

client libraries

Next challenges

UI introspection

  • Introspect UI components tree
    • gather needed data
  • Auto-configure Nuxeo Calls  
    •  schemas, enrichers, resolvers ...
  • Post back aggregated data
    • reverse enrichers and resolvers ?

Some Links

Any Questions ?

Thank You !


API Talk

By Thierry Delprat

API Talk

QCon SF 2015

  • 8,192