Friday, October 29, 2010

Bulk delete

Sometimes there is a need to send an entity body for HTTP DELETE. The use case is that of applying DELETE on one or more entity of the resource in one shot. For example, a Web GUI (consumer of a web service) might list one more entity of a resource and allow the user to select one or more of these for delete. If you are using Gmail, it allows you to select one or more email and offers a DELETE action on the selected emails.

Typically DELETE works as follows

where id is the id of the email entity.

If you are using Apache HTTP Client, it will not allow to send entity body with DELETE operation, correct me if I am wrong. In that case, you have to overload POST with query parameter such as following:

and then you could send entity body with the request.

On the server side, if you are using a JAX-RS container, based on which container you are using, the annotations you use would differ.


Apache CXF automatically dispatches requests with query _method=delete to a method on the resource that is annotated with @DELETE. More on this could be found at Overriding HTTP methods.

If you are using JBoss RESTEasy, you would need to write POST as follows

Note that EmailCollection could very well have just ids of emails to be deleted. It is received as an entity body.


Typically, for POST, a location header is sent back with the URI that points to the id of the newly created resource. There would be deliberated departure from that style in this case. Because, it is a bulk delete operation tunneled over POST, we would not send any location header. Also, we would not respond back with 201 on success, instead we would send 200 assuming that a transaction was applied to delete all the entities. If the transaction fails, 500 should be sent and transaction should be rolled back. More on this later...