Microservices with Apache Camel - simple example

Today I decided to play with Apache Camel to create some microservices. I know, microservices are the hot stuff right now, but usually one builds them with hot technology too. Like Clojure or Scala. Anyway, sometimes it’s a good idea to stick with stable and known technology, especially if you are in an enterprise environment with strict rules. Or you want your developers to concentrate on the organisational changes that come with microservices instead of fiddling with new technology.

To get started, I decided that I want to use

  • Maven to build the services
  • Docker to deploy and run them
  • Java/Apache Camel to implement them

That mix is conservative enough for a strict setting, using Java/Camel and Maven to develop the services. But with Docker I have one of the pieces in place that - in my opinion - will get traction in the mainstream Enterprise world in the next 2 or 3 years as well. Starting with Docker now is a good idea, so you should get yourself familiar with containers. :smiley: Especially if you think about deploying microservices to your infrastructure.

Ok, let’s start with the project. I pushed my project to github, you can clone it and run it right away. I’ll go through the details now so you know what you are looking at. Let’s have a look at the two services themselves, the DateService and the TimeService. As the names suggest, they return the current date and the current time. They are both exposed via camel-jetty as HTTP endpoints. To keep this short, I’ll only show the DateServiceRouteBuilder here.


I decided to split the camel service up into two small routes, one that actually gives the date and one that exposes the other route as HTTP. The port can be set via a property, which is useful when configuring the service from outside - which is a common theme for microservices or at least for deployed immutable infrastructure.

package de.kopis.microservices.routes;

import org.apache.camel.ExchangePattern;
import org.apache.camel.builder.RouteBuilder;

import de.kopis.microservices.services.DateService;

public class DateServiceRouteBuilder extends RouteBuilder {
  public void configure() throws Exception {
    from("direct:getDate").setExchangePattern(ExchangePattern.InOut).bean(new DateService(), "getDate");
    // add HTTP interface

When developing a microservice, we don’t want an application server or anything bloated around the application. It’s called micro for a reason. :smirk: So how do I run the application when I’m not deploying it into a container? Camel provides the Main class for this and here’s how I use that:


package de.kopis.microservices.app;

import org.apache.camel.main.Main;

import de.kopis.microservices.routes.DateServiceRouteBuilder;

public class RunDateService {

  private Main main;

  public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
    RunDateService app = new RunDateService();
    final String port = (args.length == 1 ? args[0] : "8765");

  public void boot(String port) throws Exception {
    System.setProperty("port", port);

    // create a Main instance
    main = new Main();
    // enable hangup support so you can press ctrl + c to terminate the JVM
    // add routes
    main.addRouteBuilder(new DateServiceRouteBuilder());

    // run until you terminate the JVM
    System.out.println(String.format("Starting Camel, using port %s. Use ctrl + c to terminate the JVM.", port));

I also use the Maven Shade Plugin to create an executable JAR. Here’s the configuration from my pom.xml:


When the project is build, you can run the service from the command line:

java -jar date-service/target/dateservice-*.jar 5679

Now, to deploy this application with Docker I created a Dockerfile for each of the services and a docker-compose.yml to run both of them and (later) add a frontend that will use the services and displays their output in a simple HTML page. The docker-compose.yml only builds and runs the services at the moment.

You have to build the project with Maven first to create the JAR files in the target directories. This is a step that I want to automate and simplify with the Dockerfile in the parent POM directory. After building the project you can use docker-compose to start the services. Run the following comand in the top directory:

    docker-compose up

After that you can open http://localhost:8081/time or http://localhost:8080/date to see the output of the services. Now you have 2 microservices built with Apache Camel running on your computer in Docker containers, ready to be deployed to your infrastructure.

In a production environment, the Docker images would be pushed to a central registry. Or the Dockerfile would download a RELEASE version from your central Maven repository. But with my example project you got a simple project that has everything you need to start with Apache Camel and Docker. Have fun!

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