In a previous post I outlined a solution to have an exception send back when doing a synchronous service call over JMS in Mule. In the intro of that post you can find the exact problem description. This post is about the exact same topic. The only difference in setup is that we’ll use Mule 3.

Upgrading the exception handler from Mule 2 to 3

All the facets of migrating to a new version of Mule deserves a separate post, so I’ll stick to the exception handling problem described before.

Version 3 of the Mule DefaultServiceExceptionStrategy deprecates the defaultHandler method. The new one to use is doHandleException. This new method gives you direct access to the MuleEvent so that’s an improvement. In my newer implementation I can also get the endpoint more easy from the muleEvent and it doesn’t require some Mule registry lookup.

Getting a hold of the replyTo object has become a bit more difficult and it forced me to narrow the usage of this class to JMS only. This is because there is no longer a convenient method like muleEvent.getMessage().getReplyTo(). Now you need to resolve it from a property, which is specific to the JMS connector.

For those interested I included all the code at the bottom of this post.

Using flow

Even though I was pretty pleased about the code I wrote, I still wondered if the new Flow concept in Mule 3 wouldn’t allow me to get rid of the custom exception handler. After all it is not so strange that you want to be able to respond to a JMS request in case something goes wrong, not?

The thing I actually found was that using a Flow makes it worse, because by default flow doesn’t reply at all to a JMS request: not in case of success or error. There is actually a bug open for this on JIRA:

After fiddling around a bit I did find that everything does work as expected with a VM endpoint! So in case you have an inbound-vm endpoint that is marked as exchange-pattern=”request-response”, you will always get a response (success and error cases).
And what is more: it also works if you have an inbound JMS endpoint and forward the request to a VM inpoint of a flow. It looks like the configuration below. Notice that you still need a response transformer that will transform the Mule exception payload to whatever you need. If you do not have a transformer you will get an empty message on your JMS response queue. This is because the JMS connector ignores the exception payload and takes the normal payload, which is null.

    <jms:endpoint name="jms.queue.request" queue="${}"
                  responseTransformer-refs="exPayloadToResponse objectToJms"/>
    <vm:endpoint name="vm.request" address="vm://vm.request"/>

        <service name="requestViaJMS">
                <inbound-endpoint ref="jms.queue.request"/>
                    <outbound-endpoint ref="vm.request" exchange-pattern="request-response"/>

    <flow name="requestViaVM">
        <inbound-endpoint ref="vm.request" exchange-pattern="request-response"/>
        <enricher ... />
        <transformer ... />
        <component ... />

You would be right to argue that the above is exactly what is provided by the Mule Bridge pattern (also new in version 3). However, the bridge implementation suffers the same defect as the flow, so this does not bring a solution.


The most elegant solution in Mule 3 for exception handling on synchronous JMS flows is to hide them after a VM endpoint and simply pass through the JMS message.

Custom exceptionStrategy code

public final class ReqRepServiceExceptionStrategy extends DefaultServiceExceptionStrategy {
    private final Logger logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(ReqRepServiceExceptionStrategy.class);

    protected void doHandleException(Exception e, MuleEvent muleEvent) {
        super.doHandleException(e, muleEvent);
        final ImmutableEndpoint inboundEp = muleEvent.getEndpoint();
        final boolean isReqRep = MessageExchangePattern.REQUEST_RESPONSE.equals(inboundEp.getExchangePattern());
        //only process replies for jms endpoints
        if (!isEventAlreadyProcessed(muleEvent) & inboundEp.isProtocolSupported(JmsConnector.JMS) & isReqRep) {
            final MuleMessage replyMessage = new DefaultMuleMessage(null, muleContext);
            replyMessage.setExceptionPayload(new DefaultExceptionPayload(e));
            try {
                final Object replyTo = getReplyTo(muleEvent.getMessage());
                final ReplyToHandler replyToHandler = getReplyToHandler(inboundEp);
                processReplyTo(muleEvent, replyMessage, replyToHandler, replyTo);
            } catch (MuleException me) {
                logger.error("Cannot reply from Exception Strategy.", me);
        } else {
  "MuleEvent already processed once by this handler, not replying again.");

    private boolean isEventAlreadyProcessed(final MuleEvent muleEvent) {
        boolean eventAlreadyProcessed = false;
        final Object replyAlreadySent = muleEvent.getSession().getProperty(REQ_REP_SERVICE_EXCEPTION_STRATEGY_REPLY_SENT);
        if (replyAlreadySent != null && Boolean.class.isInstance(replyAlreadySent)) {
            eventAlreadyProcessed = Boolean.class.cast(replyAlreadySent);
        return eventAlreadyProcessed;

    private Object getReplyTo(final MuleMessage message) throws MuleException {
        final Object replyTo = message.getOutboundProperty(JmsConstants.JMS_REPLY_TO);
        if (replyTo == null) {
            throw new DefaultMuleException(MessageFactory.createStaticMessage(
                    "There is no jms-reply-to specified on this endpoint"));
        return replyTo;

    private ReplyToHandler getReplyToHandler(final ImmutableEndpoint endpoint) throws MuleException {
        final ReplyToHandler replyToHandler = ((AbstractConnector) endpoint.getConnector()).getReplyToHandler(endpoint);
        if (replyToHandler == null) {
            throw new DefaultMuleException(MessageFactory.createStaticMessage(
                    "There is no replyToHandler specified on this endpoint"));
        final List responseTransformers = endpoint.getResponseTransformers();
        if (responseTransformers != null && responseTransformers.size() > 0) {
        return replyToHandler;

    private void processReplyTo(final MuleEvent event, final MuleMessage result, final ReplyToHandler replyToHandler,
                                final Object replyTo) throws MuleException {
        final String requestor = result.getOutboundProperty(MuleProperties.MULE_REPLY_TO_REQUESTOR_PROPERTY);
        if (((requestor != null && !requestor.equals(event.getFlowConstruct().getName())) || requestor == null)) {
            replyToHandler.processReplyTo(event, result, replyTo);
            event.getSession().setProperty(REQ_REP_SERVICE_EXCEPTION_STRATEGY_REPLY_SENT, Boolean.TRUE);
  "Reply send for this MuleEvent to " + replyTo.toString());

Author: Jeroen Verellen