Let’s get started with some basics of Spring framework as well as Spring Boot!
Spring is a popular Java based framework to build web and enterprise applications. Spring Framework provides a wide variety of features that address the modern business needs. Spring Framework gives flexibility to configure beans in multiple ways like XML, Annotations and JavaConfig. As the number of features increased so did complexity. Task of spring application configuration became tedious and error-prone.
Spring team created Spring Boot to address the configuration complexity.
Spring Boot is not here to compete with Spring or Spring MVC, on the contrary it makes it easier to use them.
Spring Boot makes it easy to develop Spring-powered, production grade applications and services with minimum hassle. It narrows down Spring platform so that new or existing users can quickly get to the required bits. What’s more! Spring Boot makes it easy to build stand alone, production-grade Spring based Applications that can be “just run”.
Let’s Skim Through Some of the Noteworthy Features
- Stand alone application development
- Embedded Tomcat, Jetty or Undertow
- Provides narrow ‘starter’ dependencies to simplify your build configuration
- Auto configuration of Spring and 3rd party libraries wherever possible
- Renders production ready features such as metrics, health checks, and external configuration
- No code generation or XML configuration
Here is a quick overview of modules for you to understand Spring Boot better!
Main library provides features that support other parts of Spring Boot, they include:
- The SpringApplication class, rendering static convenience methods that makes it easy to create a stand alone application. Its only work is to create and refresh an appropriate Spring ApplicationContext.
- A choice of container for Embedded web applications
- Externalized Configuration Support
- ApplicationContext initializers that include support for sensible logging defaults
Spring Boot can configure sizeable parts of common applications based on content of their classpath. A single @EnableAutoConfiguration annotation activates auto configuration of Spring Context. Auto configuration tries to deduce which beans a user might need. Moreover, auto configuration will always back down when the user starts to define their own beans.
Spring Boot starters are a set of convenient dependency descriptors that can be included in the application. It’s a one stop shop for all Spring related technology which you need without having to go through the hassle of copy pasting loads of dependency descriptors.
Spring command line application compiles and runs Groovy source, making it absolutely easy to write minimal code to get the application running. Furthermore, it can also watch files automatically recompile and restart when they change.
Actuator endpoints allow you to monitor and interact with your application. Spring boot actuator furnishes the infrastructure required for actuator endpoints. This module being out of the box provides a number of endpoints including HealthEndpoint, EnvironmentEndpoint, BeansEndpoints etc.
This module provides auto configuration for actuator endpoints depending on content of classpath and a set of properties. It includes configuration to expose endpoints over HTTP or JMX. It will back down as soon as the user starts to define their own beans just like Spring Boot AutoConfigure.
This module comprises core items and annotations that can be helpful for testing your application.
This module, like other Spring Boot auto configuration modules, provides auto configuration for tests on the basis of classpath. It contains a number of annotations to automatically configure a slice of the application that needs to be tested.
It renders the secret sauce which allows you to build a single jar file that can be launched using java-jar. Generally, you need not use this module directly, but instead with the Gradle or Maven plugin.
The module provides additional development-time features like automatic restarts for a smooth application development experience. Developer tools are disabled while running a full packaged application.
After all the information given above, the question remains Why Opt for Spring Boot?
Here are some convincing reasons for you to take a well informed decision!
Spring and Spring MVC applications have a lot XML or Java Bean Configuration to carry out. Spring Boot has brought about a new thought process around this.
How about auto-configuring a Data source when Hibernate jar is on classpath?
How about auto-configuring a Dispatcher Servlet when Spring MVC jar is on classpath?
There may be provisions to override the default auto configuration. Spring Boot looks at frameworks available on the classpath and existing configuration for the application. It furnishes basic configuration needed to configure the application with these frameworks based on the above information. This is called Auto configuration.
Spring Boot Starter Projects
While developing a web application, you need to identify the frameworks to be used, versions of those framework and more importantly how to connect them. According to documentation, starters are set of convenient dependency descriptors that can be included in your application. It’s a one-stop-shop for all Spring related technology that is needed.For instance, let’s consider Spring Boot Starter Web. If you want to develop a web application or an application to expose restful services, Spring Boot Starter Web is the perfect option. You can create a quick project using Spring Initializr.
Any typical web application will use the following dependencies:
- Spring - core, beans, context, aop
- Web MVC - Spring MVC
- Jackson - for JSON Binding
- Validation - Hibernate Validator, Validation API
- Embedded Servlet Container - Tom cat
- Logging - logback, slf4j
What’s interesting here? Spring Boot Starter Web has all these dependencies pre packaged. A developer need not worry about these dependencies or their compatible versions.
Simplified Higher Level Abstractions
One of the primary goals of Spring Boot is to make everything easier.
Spring portfolio has its own strong Web MVC framework, Spring Security framework but its other projects majorly aim to provide higher level abstractions to make their use easier.
For illustration, Spring Data JPA makes the use of JPA easy by providing APIs to perform CRUD operations, Sorting and Pagination without the requirement to implement them yourself. Spring AMPQ or Spring for Kafka renders higher level of abstractions for you to work easily with RabbitMQ or Kafka without writing low-level boilerplate code.
Micro-services and Cloud Native Friendly
The latest trend now is the microservice architecture and organizations prefer their deployment in Cloud environments such as AWS, CloudFoundry etc.
Generally, Spring Boot applications are developed as self-contained deployment units and by using its Profiles concept, the same application can be deployed in multiple environments without any changes in code.
Moreover, SpringCloud modules provide an amazing set of features necessary to build Cloud Native microservices.
Addresses Modern Enterprise Needs
Requirements of modern enterprise applications are changing constantly and rapidly. Waiting for 3-4 years release cycle to get new features is not feasible. Frameworks with rapid release cycles are required to support business needs.
At its core, Spring is just a Dependency Injection container.
But the actual power of Spring is its rich set of portfolio projects. Be it using NoSQL databases, wanting a robust Security Framework, integration with Social platforms, Big Data Frameworks or streaming platforms like Kafka, everything is taken care of.
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