Asynchronous method invocations in Java EE 6

Lately I have been looking into asynchronous method invocations in Java EE 6. My use case was to execute multiple search engine queries in parallel and then collect the results afterwards, instead of having to wait for each query to finish before executing the next one etc. In Java EE 6 (EJB 3.1) you can implement asynchronous methods on your session beans, which means that the EJB container returns control to the client before executing the actual method. It is then possible to use the Java SE concurrency API to retrieve the results for this method. The asynchronous method must either have a void reutrn type or return a java.util.concurrent.Future<V>, where V is the result type value. This is very convenient for my use case, but also for exeuction of such tasks which are unimportant that they are executed before the application continues, e.g. sending an e-mail or putting a message on a message queue for processing by a third party application. In my use case I first execute the asynchronous methods which executes the actual queries, retrieve a Future object to each invocation and then I collect the results later on using these references. Here is a very simple example of an asynchronous method invocation:

public class AsyncService {
    public void execute() {
public class AnotherService {
    @EJB AsyncService async;

    public void doAsyncCall() {

You basically annotate your asynchronous business method with @Asynchronous, and the EJB container handles the rest. I’ve created a small Java EE 6 Web App which demonstrates the behaviour, the source code can be found on Github. The example exposes a RESTful web service, which can be used to invoke the asynchronous service. The example comes with a JBoss 7.1.1 distribution and Arquillian integration tests, so you can just execute the test cases in, to see the example in action. One of the test cases are executed within the actual application server, thus invoking the asynchronous service directly, while the other test case runs as a client, and makes a HTTP GET request to the exposed REST interface. The only thing you need to run the example is Maven and Java 7.

Please note that asynchronous method invocations are not supported in EJB 3.1 Lite, which is included in the Java EE 6 Web Profile.


Tommy Tynjä