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Exploring Micro-frameworks: Everything You Need to Know About Spring Boot 1

Exploring Micro-frameworks: Everything You Need to Know About Spring Boot

For well over a decade now, in fact, since its inception in 2003, Spring has been among the most popular and highest-ranked Java backend frameworks. The lightweight, open-source framework for Enterprise Java built its niche with revolutionary features like Dependency Injection (DI), Aspect-oriented Programming (AOC), POJO implementation (no need of EJBs!), JDBC compatibility, and so on.

Tech giants like Amazon, Netflix, and Accenture use Spring, and, with a powerful gamut of modules and a massive community backing it, Spring enjoys a powerful foothold in the Java web framework space. Put simply, you are bound to cross paths with Spring, sooner rather than later, as it lends itself well to all types of Java app projects.

However, despite being the best Java framework out there, Spring has some downsides. For instance, you may find yourself with too many options and need to invest too much time in configurations and figuring out dependencies. And that’s where Spring Boot comes in the picture. It makes Spring more accessible.

Pivotal designed Spring Boot to work as kind of a liaison between the Spring framework and the developer. The result is that with Spring Boot you can get off the blocks at a much faster pace and spend more time on code, less on configurations.

Sounds great? Here is a quick primer on Spring Boot.

What is Spring Boot?

Spring Boot is a microframework that works on top of the Spring framework. Its raison d’etre is to greatly reduce the complexity involved in configuring beans, while also giving you the option to override default configurations. In other words, it’s a convention-over-configuration solution for the Spring framework.

“We take an opinionated view of the Spring platform and third-party libraries so you can get started with minimum fuss” – Pivotal (Spring Team)

Spring Boot is opinionated in the sense that it decides for you how to configure defaults and this allows you to start building your application without delay. Worry if it’s too opinionated? Well, you can override configured beans. Either way, Spring Boot is great at helping you create standalone Spring-based applications, with an embedded web server like Tomcat for deployment, and auto-configures your libraries based on the dependencies you add.

Three of Spring Boot’s most loved features are:

● Auto-configuration
● Opinionated
● Standalone

Keeping these basics in mind Spring Boot can be intelligently represented with a mathematical equation:

Spring Boot = Spring Framework – XML Configuration + Integrated Server

Provides an ecosystem for building microservices

Microservices is more than just a buzzword and the architecture, with its loosely coupled autonomous components, makes for immense scalability and agility. The likes of Google, Netflix, Amazon, and eBay use Java-based microservices and Spring Boot is a great springboard for developing microservices. Why so? For one, it’s absolutely easy to get up and running with Spring Boot – the learning curve isn’t steep, and configurations are taken care of. Moreover, for deployment you have options of embedded and standalone servers.

However, the cherry on the cake is Spring Cloud. Deploying applications in the cloud is convenient and with Spring Cloud you have the tools, modules, and architecture to ensure your microservices applications interact with each other without glitches. To view the gamut of tools available simply head off to the Spring Cloud page and scan through the menu bar on the left-hand portion of the screen. Here are some top tools:

  • Netflix Eureka: A service registry and discovery tool, Eureka clients register with the Eureka server and microservices query the discovery server to communicate with other microservices.
  • Netflix Hystrix: When microservices are dependent on each other, a failure in one microservice can lead to a cascading or domino effect, and to check this, you can use the Hystrix fault tolerance library as a circuit breaker.
  • Netflix Ribbon: A client-side load balancer, Ribbon automatically interacts with Eureka and provides control over HTTP and TCP clients.

Helps developers boost productivity and focus on coding

Spring Boot has a handful of features that make for immense time saving. And time saved on stuff you can avoid is time you can use to improve your code!

  1. Autoconfiguration: Spring applications can have a lot of configurations, which translates to a whole chunk of boilerplate code if you are setting up things manually. Spring Boot’s AutoConfiguration is an intelligent solution to this problem and it automatically configures your Spring application based on dependencies you’ve added to your Classpath.
    a. If you have added HSQLDB, Spring Boot will auto-configure an in-memory database if you don’t already have database connection beans manually configured.
    b. If spring-mvc.jar is on the Classpath, Spring Boot will automatically configure DispatcherServlet, InternalViewResolver, HandlerMapping, ModelAndView, and other components.

    Autoconfiguration in Spring Boot isn’t a default condition, you need to opt-in as it is in a disabled state otherwise. To do so, add the @EnableAutoConfiguration or @SpringBootApplication annotations to any of your @Configuration classes. You can find the autoconfiguration implementation in spring-boot-autoconfigure.jar.

  2. Starter POMs: This is Spring Boot’s starter dependency feature, and like autoconfiguration, it takes an opinionated view of what you require to get started with your project. Here, however, the feature works to add the necessary dependencies to your project.

    Starter POMs are dependency descriptors that you include in your project to avoid a lot of copy-pasting. For instance, if you are working on a full-stack web development project and need to include descriptors like spring-webmvc.jar, tomcat-embed-core.jar, and spring-web.jar, with starter POMs you just need to add spring-boot-starter-web to your pom.xml. The benefits of smarter POMs include non-copy-pasting, consistency in properties, and dependency version conflicts.

    Starter POMs follow the format spring-boot-starter-* and you can refer to Spring Boot’s documentation for a list of application starters. Bear in mind, however, that you can build your own starter POMs to kickstart your projects.
  3. Actuator and Initializr: This feature allows you to glean metrics and insights pertaining to operational information of the running application in production. Spring-boot-actuator provides features like a health check, monitoring, and management over HTTP/ JMX, auditing, etc.

    If you are having issues with kickstarting a project Spring Initialzr is your answer. It gives you a GUI through which you can enter project details and metadata alongside dependencies. Once you have filled the fields, simply download your ZIP file and edit it in your IDE. So, yes, you do not have to have a thorough understanding of the Spring framework to get started with Spring Boot.

As you explore Spring Boot, you’ll realize why it ranks so highly in the Java community. You would probably also find it very handy when working on RESTful web services and if you fancy using Groovy you can use Spring Boot CLI for a command line tool that you can use to quickly develop Spring applications.

Having Spring and Spring Boot as skills on your CV is a huge draw, given their popularity across the industry. Finding the best job listing, however, can be a tedious task, and that’s why we at Talent500 setup a smarter way of going about recruitment. Simply sign up with Talent500 and take our skill-based assessment. Once you do that, we’ll match your profile to multiple job openings at top companies. That right, just as is with Spring Boot, so it is here – you sidestep repetitive work upfront to focus on what matters the most!



Girish is Talent500’s architect for systems software. His experience in backend development has helped him convert visions of many a product into reality. From his days at BITS-Pilani, he has always dreamt about beating AplhaZero at chess.

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