Apache CXF 2.0 Documentation > Index > Interceptors

Interceptors and Phases

Interceptors are the fundamental processing unit inside CXF. When a service is invoked, an InterceptorChain is created and invoked. Each interceptor gets a chance to do what they want with the message. This can include reading it, transforming it, processing headers, validating the message, etc.

Some examples of interceptors inside CXF include:

  • SoapActionInterceptor - Processes the SOAPAction header and selects an operation if its set.
  • StaxInInterceptor - Creates a Stax XMLStreamReader from the transport input stream.
  • Attachment(In/Out)Interceptor - Turns a multipart/related message into a series of attachments.

InterceptorChains are divided up into Phases. Each phase contains many interceptors. On the incoming chains, you'll have the following phases:

Phase Functions
RECEIVE Transport level processing
(PRE/USER/POST)_STREAM Stream level processing/transformations
READ This is where header reading typically occurs.
(PRE/USER/POST)_PROTOCOL Protocol processing, such as JAX-WS SOAP handlers
UNMARSHAL Unmarshalling of the request
(PRE/USER/POST)_LOGICAL Processing of the umarshalled request
PRE_INVOKE Pre invocation actions
INVOKE Invocation of the service
POST_INVOKE Invocation of the outgoing chain if there is one

On the outgoing chain there are the following phases:

Phase Functions
SETUP Any set up for the following phases
(PRE/USER/POST)_LOGICAL Processing of objects about to marshalled
PREPARE_SEND Opening of the connection
PRE_PROTOCOL Misc protocol actions.
WRITE Writing of the protocol message, such as the SOAP Envelope.
MARSHAL Marshalling of the objects
(USER/POST)_PROTOCOL Processing of the protocol message.
(USER/POST)_STREAM Processing of the byte level message
SEND Final sending of message and closing of transport stream


Several different components inside CXF may provide interceptors to an InterceptorChain. These implement the InterceptorProvider interface:

public interface InterceptorProvider {
    List<Interceptor> getInInterceptors();
    List<Interceptor> getOutInterceptors();
    List<Interceptor> getOutFaultInterceptors();
    List<Interceptor> getInFaultInterceptors();

To get an interceptor added to the interceptor chain, you'll want to add it to one of the Interceptor Providers.

MyInterceptor interceptor = new MyInterceptor();

There are main InterceptorProviders inside CXF are:

  • Client
  • Endpoint
  • Service
  • Bus
  • Binding

Writing an Interceptor

Writing an interceptor is relatively simple. The best way to do this is to extend from an abstract class.

Practically speaking, there are two base classes you may be concerned in. The first is the AbstractPhaseInterceptor. The second is AbstractSoapInterceptor. The only difference between the first and second is that the later will give you a SoapMessage instead of just a Message class. This allows you to access the SOAP headers and version.

Here is a small example of how to write a Soap interceptor:

public class MySoapInterceptor extends AbstractSoapInterceptor {
  public void handleMessage(SoapMessage msg) throws SoapFault {
    System.out.println("Hello World!");

To add this to your server, you'll want to get access to the Server object (see here for more info):

MySoapInterceptor myInterceptor = new MySoapInterceptor();

Server server = serverFactoryBean.create();

On the Client side the process is very similar:

FooService client = ... ; // created from ClientProxyFactoryBean or generated JAX-WS client
MySoapInterceptor myInterceptor = new MySoapInterceptor();

Client cxfClient = ClientProxy.getClient(client);
cxfClient .getInInterceptor().add(myInterceptor);

You may also want to specify what phase your interceptor is in. To do this, you can simply set the phase:

public class MySoapInterceptor extends AbstractSoapInterceptor {
  public MySoapInterceptor() {

You can also express that you would like your interceptor to run before/after certain other interceptors in the same phase:

public class MySoapInterceptor extends AbstractSoapInterceptor {
  public MySoapInterceptor() {