Before we jump to why opt for Spring Framework, let’s provide you some know how about it!
What’s so great about Spring?
Spring Framework is a Java platform which gives comprehensive infrastructure support to develop Java applications.
Spring handles infrastructure so you can concentrate on your application. Spring also enables you to develop applications from “Plain Old Java Objects” (POJOs) and apply enterprise services non-invasively to POJOs. The same capability applies to Java SE programming model as well as full and partial Java EE.
Spring Framework is divided into modules. Applications can choose the modules they need. At heart are the modules of the core container, which also includes a configuration model and dependency injection mechanism. Moreover, Spring Framework also provides fundamental support for different application architectures, including messaging, transactional data and persistence and web.
A quick time travel to the history of Spring!
Spring Framework came into existence in 2003 as a result of complexities in the early J2EE specifications.
Some are of the opinion that Java EE and Spring are in competition, but on the contrary Spring is, in fact, complimentary to Java EE. Spring programming model doesn’t embrace the Java EE platform specification, instead it integrates carefully with selected individual specifications from EE umbrella.
Also, the Spring Framework supports Dependency Injection and Common Annotations Specifications, that application developers may prefer to use instead of Spring-specific mechanisms provided by Spring Framework.
In Spring Framework 5.0, Spring needs Java EE 7 level as minimum - also at the same time rendering ingenious integration with newer APIs at Java EE 8 level. Thus, this makes Spring fully compatible with for instance Tomcat 8 and 9, WebSphere 9 and JBoss EAP 7.
Role of Java EE in application development has evolved over time. In earlier days, applications were created to be deployed to an application server. Nowadays, with the help of Spring Boot framework, applications are created in devops and cloud friendly way, with Servlet container embedded and trivial to change. When it comes to Spring Framework 5, a WebFlux application does not even make use of Servlet API directly and can run on servers that are not Servlet containers.
Spring has continued to evolve and innovate. Beyond Spring Framework, there are other projects such as Java Spring Boot, Spring Security, Spring Cloud, Spring Data and Spring Batch among others. It’s essential to note that each project has its own source code repository, issue tracker and release cadence.
What went behind Spring Framework?
When you are new to a framework, its important to know what it does as well as the principles it follows. Mentioned below are some of the guiding principles of Spring Framework:
Choice at Every Level - Spring offers you the freedom to delay design decisions as much as possible. For instance, you can change persistence providers through configuration without making changes in the code.
Fit in Diverse Perspectives - Spring Framework embraces flexibility and does not define beforehand about how things should be done. It supports wide range of application needs with divergent perspectives.
Maintain Strong Backward Compatibility - Evolution of Spring has been carefully designed to implement few breaking changes between versions. Spring supports a selective range of JDK versions and third party libraries to make easy maintenance of applications and libraries that depend on Spring.
API Design - The Spring team puts a lot of time and thought in creating APIs that are intuitive and can be used across many versions and years.
High Standards for Code Quality - Spring Framework puts emphasis on meaningful, current and accurate Javadoc. It is one of the very few projects that can claim a clean code structure with no circular dependencies between packages.
Spring Framework Architecture
Spring Framework is a layered architecture that consists of several modules. All the modules are built on top of its core container. These modules provide everything that a developer may require for use enterprise application development. Developer is free to choose what features are required and eliminate the models that are of no use. Spring’s modular architecture allows integration with other frameworks without much hassle.
Core Module - Provides Dependency Injection feature which is the basic concept of Spring Framework. It contains the Bean Factory, an implementation of Factory Pattern that creates bean as per the configurations provided by developer in an XML file.
AOP Module - Aspect Oriented Programming Module enables developers to define method interceptors and point cuts to keep concerns apart. It is configured at run time so compilation step gets eliminated. The AOP module aims at declarative transaction management which is easier to maintain.
DAO Module - It provides an abstraction layer to low level task of creating a connection and releasing it etc. DOA also maintains a hierarchy of meaningful exceptions rather than presenting complicated error codes from specific database vendors. It uses AOP to manage transactions which can also be done programmatically.
ORM Module - Spring does not have its own ORM implementation but allows integration with popular Object Relational Mapping tools such as Hibernate, iBATIS SQL Maps, Oracle TopLink and JPA etc.
JEE Module - Provides support for JMX, JCA, EJB and JMS etc. In most cases, JCA is similar to JDBC, except when JDBC is focused on database and JCA focused on connecting to legacy systems.
Web Module - Comes with Java Spring MVC framework that simplifies the task of developing web applications. Moreover, it also integrates well with popular MVC frameworks such as Struts, Tapestry, JSF, Wicket etc.
Some Benefits of Spring Framework
The Spring Framework takes care of most of the infrastructure functionalities of Enterprise applications. Here are a few more to persuade you to opt for Spring:
- Spring enables developers to build enterprise applications using POJOs. The benefit here is that you don’t need to have an enterprise container but have the option of using a robust servlet container.
- Spring Framework provides an abstraction layer on existing technologies such as servlets, jsps, jdbc, jndi, rmi, jms and Java mail etc to simplify development process.
- Spring framework has a well designed web MVC framework that provides a great alternative to legacy web framework.
- It can eliminate the creation of singleton and factory classes.
- Spring provides a steady transaction management interface that can scale down or up as per local or global transactions.
- Spring can be used for development of diverse applications like standalone application, standalone GUI application, web application and applets as well.
- It supports both XML and anotation configurations.
- Spring provides built-in middleware services like Connection pooling, Transaction management etc.
- Spring Framework renders a lightweight container that can be activated without using web server or application server.
- Last but not the least, Spring has taken the best practice that has been proven over the years in several applications.
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