A Geospatial Messenger With Kotlin, Spring Boot and PostgreSQL

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A Geospatial Messenger With Kotlin, Spring Boot and PostgreSQL

Sebastien Deleuze brings use through a sample application using some essential technologies and written in Kotlin.

· Java Zone ·
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Following my first Kotlin blog post, today I want introduce the new Spring Boot + Kotlin application I have developed for my next week talk “Developing Geospatial Web Services with Kotlin and Spring Boot” at Breizhcamp conference.

Dealing With Native Database Functionalities

One of the goal of this application is see how to take advantage of native database functionalities like we do in NoSQL world. Here we want to use Geospatial support provided by PostGIS, the spatial database extender for PostgreSQL.

This Geospatial Messenger sample application is available on GitHub in 2 flavors:
 - The master branch uses Exposed, a Kotlin SQL library with a typesafe API created by JetBrains. It could be compared to Query DSL SQL or jOOQ but provides an idiomatic Kotlin API and does not require code generation.
 - The spring-data-jdbc-repository branch is using spring-data-jdbc-repository, a community project that allows to use Spring Data PagingAndSortingRepository API with raw SQL queries without JPA. I am using this Jakub Jirutka fork which is an improved version of Tomasz Nurkiewicz original project.

A Spring Data JPA + Hibernate Spatial variant would be interesting, so feel free to contribute it with a PR ;-) Kotlin Query DSL support would be also nice but this is currently not supported (please comment on this issue if you are interested). In this blog post I will focus on the Exposed variant.

A Tour of Geospatial Messenger Code

Our domain model is described easily thanks to these 2 Kotlin data classes:

data class Message(
        var content: String,
        var author: String,
        var location: Point? = null,
        var id: Int? = null

data class User(
        var userName: String,
        var firstName: String,
        var lastName: String,
        var location: Point? = null

Exposed allows us to describe the structure of our tables with a type-safe SQL API quite handy to use (autocomplete, refactoring and error prone):

object Messages : Table() {
    val id = integer("id").autoIncrement().primaryKey()
    val content = text("content")
    val author = reference("author", Users.userName)
    val location = point("location").nullable()

object Users : Table() {
    val userName = text("user_name").primaryKey()
    val firstName = text("first_name")
    val lastName = text("last_name")
    val location = point("location").nullable()

It is interesting to notice that Exposed does not support natively PostGIS functionalities like geometry types or geospatial requests. That’s where Kotlin extensions shine, and allow with a few lines of code to add such support without requiring to use extended classes:

fun Table.point(name: String, srid: Int = 4326): Column<Point> = registerColumn(name, PointColumnType())

infix fun ExpressionWithColumnType<*>.within(box: PGbox2d) : Op<Boolean> = WithinOp(this, box)

Our repository is also quite short and very flexible, since it allows you to write any kind of SQL request even with complex WHERE clause with a type-safe SQL API. Currently we need to use db.transaction{ } wrapper which is not ideal, I have created Exposed issues #24 and #25 to be able to use regular Spring transaction management, feel free to add your +1 ;-)

open class UserRepository @Autowired constructor(val db: Database) {

    open fun createTable() = db.transaction {

    open fun create(user: User) {
        db.transaction {
            Users.insert( map(user) )

    open fun updateLocation(u:String, l: Point) = db.transaction {
        location.srid = 4326
        Users.update({Users.userName eq u}) { it[Users.location] = l}

    open fun findAll() = db.transaction {

    open fun findByBoundingBox(box: PGbox2d) = db.transaction {
        unmap(Users.select { Users.location within box })

    open fun deleteAll() = db.transaction {

    private fun map(u: User): Users.(UpdateBuilder<*>) -> Unit = {
        it[userName] = u.userName
        it[firstName] = u.firstName
        it[lastName] = u.lastName
        it[location] = u.location

    private fun unmap(rows: SizedIterable<ResultRow>): List<User> =
        rows.map { User(

Controllers are also very concise and use Spring Framework 4.3 upcoming @GetMapping / @PostMapping annotations which are just method-specific shortcuts for @RequestMapping annotations:

class UserController @Autowired constructor(val repo: UserRepository) {

    fun create(@RequestBody u: User) { repo.create(u) }

    fun list() = repo.findAll()

    fun findByBoundingBox(@PathVariable xMin:Double,
                          @PathVariable yMin:Double,
                          @PathVariable xMax:Double,
                          @PathVariable yMax:Double)
            = repo.findByBoundingBox(
                        PGbox2d(Point(xMin, yMin), Point(xMax, yMax)))

    fun updateLocation(@PathVariable userName:String,
                       @PathVariable x: Double,
                       @PathVariable y: Double)
            = repo.updateLocation(userName, Point(x, y))

The client side is a pure HTML + Javascript application developed with OpenLayers mapping library (see index.html and map.js for more details) that geolocalizes you and creates geolocalized messages sent/received to/from other users thanks to Server-Sent Events.


And last but not least, the REST API is fully tested and documented thanks to the awesome Spring REST docs project, see MessageControllerTests and index.adoc for more details.


The main impression I had developing this application is that it was fun, efficient, with a high level of flexibility and safety provided by the SQL API and Kotlin null safety. The resulting Spring Boot application is a 18 MBytes self-contained executable jar with low memory consumption. Using Spring REST docs was also a pleasure, demonstrating again Kotlin nice Java interoperability.

The few pain points I have encountered (array annotation attributes, Java 8 Stream support), are planned to be fixed in Kotlin 1.1. Exposed library is still young and need to mature, but from my point of view this is promising.

And keep in mind that officially supported Spring Data projects works well with Kotlin as shown in the spring-boot-kotlin-demo project in my previous blog post.

If you happen to be in Barcelona mid May (never a bad time to be in Barcelona anyway!), don’t miss the chance to join the Spring I/O conference where I’ll be presenting on the latest and greatest in Spring Data in general. Also, the registration for SpringOne Platform (early August, Las Vegas) has opened recently, in case you want to benefit from early bird ticket pricing. The latter is also still open for talk proposals. So if you’re interested to give a talk about Spring or Pivotal-related technologies, feel free to submit!

java, kotlin, postgres, spring, spring boot

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