Handle Exceptions
In the real world applications, a user story can be described as different flows.
  1. 1.
    The execution works as expected and get success finally.
  2. 2.
    Some conditions are not satisfied and the flow should be intercepted and notify users.
For example, when a user tries to register an account in this application. The server side should check if the existance of the input username, if the username is taken by other users, the server should stop the registration flow and wraps the message into UsernameWasTakenException and throws it. Later the APIs should translate it to client friend message and reasonable HTTP status code, and finally they are sent to client and notify the user.

Define Exceptions

Define an exeption which stands for the exception path. For example, ResourceNotFoundException indicates an resource is not found in the applicatin when query the resource by id.
public class ResourceNotFoundException extends RuntimeException {
private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;
private final Long id;
public ResourceNotFoundException(Long id) {
this.id = id;
public Long getId() {
return id;

Throws exceptions in service

In our service, check the resource existance, and throws the ResourceNotFoundException when the resource is not found.
public PostDetails findPostById(Long id) {
Assert.notNull(id, "post id can not be null");
log.debug("find post by [email protected]" + id);
Post post = postRepository.findOne(id);
if (post == null) {
throw new ResourceNotFoundException(id);
return DTOUtils.map(post, PostDetails.class);
Here, we have defined ResourceNotFoundException as a RuntimeException, and there is no throws clause in the method declaration. Benefit from Spring IOC container, we do not need to use caught exception to force callers to handle it explictly. Alternatively, we can define a specific exception handler later to process it gracefully.

Translates exceptions

Internally, Spring has a series of built-in ExceptionTranslators to translate the exceptions to Spring declarative approaches, eg. all JDBC related exceptions are translated to Spring defined exceptions( DataAccessException and its subclasses), see here fore more details.
In the presentation layer, these exceptions can be caught and converted into user friendly message.
Spring provides a built-in ResponseEntityExceptionHandler to handle the exceptions and translate them into REST API friendly messages.
You can extend this class and override the default exeption hanlder methods, or add your exception hanlder to handle custom exceptions.
@ControllerAdvice(annotations = RestController.class)
public class RestExceptionHandler extends ResponseEntityExceptionHandler {
private static final Logger log = LoggerFactory.getLogger(RestExceptionHandler.class);
@ExceptionHandler(value = {ResourceNotFoundException.class})
public ResponseEntity<ResponseMessage> handleResourceNotFoundException(ResourceNotFoundException ex, WebRequest request) {
if (log.isDebugEnabled()) {
log.debug("handling ResourceNotFoundException...");
return new ResponseEntity<>(HttpStatus.NOT_FOUND);
In the above code, ResourceNotFoundException is handled by the RestExceptionHandler, and send a 404 HTTP status code to the client.

Handles bean validation failure

For user input form validation, most of time, we could needs the detailed info the validaiton cosntraints.
Spring supports JSR 303(Bean validation) natively, the bean validation constraints error can be gathered by BindingResult in the controller class.
public ResponseEntity<ResponseMessage> createPost(@RequestBody @Valid PostForm post, BindingResult errResult) {
log.debug("create a new post");
if (errResult.hasErrors()) {
throw new InvalidRequestException(errRusult);
In the controller class, if the BindingResult has errors, then wraps the error info into an exception.
Handles it in the RestExceptionHandler.
@ExceptionHandler(value = {InvalidRequestException.class})
public ResponseEntity<ResponseMessage> handleInvalidRequestException(InvalidRequestException ex, WebRequest req) {
if (log.isDebugEnabled()) {
log.debug("handling InvalidRequestException...");
ResponseMessage alert = new ResponseMessage(
messageSource.getMessage(ApiErrors.INVALID_REQUEST, new String[]{}, null));
BindingResult result = ex.getErrors();
List<FieldError> fieldErrors = result.getFieldErrors();
if (!fieldErrors.isEmpty()) {
fieldErrors.stream().forEach(e -> {
alert.addError(e.getField(), e.getCode(), e.getDefaultMessage());
return new ResponseEntity<>(alert, HttpStatus.UNPROCESSABLE_ENTITY);
The detailed validation errors are wrapped as content and sent to the client, and a HTTP status to indicate the form data user entered is invalid.

Exception and HTTP status

All Spring built-in exceptions have been handled and mapped to a HTTP status code. Read the ResponseEntityExceptionHandler code or javadoc for more details.
All business related exceptions should designed and converted to a valid HTTP status code and essential messages.
Some HTTP status codes are used frequently.
  • 200 OK
  • 201 Created
  • 204 NO Content
  • 400 Bad Resquest
  • 401 Not Authoried
  • 403 Forbidden
  • 409 Conflict
More details about HTTP status code, please read https://httpstatuses.com/ or W3C HTTP Status definition.

Source Code

Check out sample codes from my github account.
git clone https://github.com/hantsy/angularjs-springmvc-sample
Or the Spring Boot version:
git clone https://github.com/hantsy/angularjs-springmvc-sample-boot
Read the live version of these posts from Gitbook:Building RESTful APIs with Spring MVC.