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Introduction to Spring Framework

Authors: Liu Yiwen
Reviewers: Ang Ze Yu, Lum Ka Fai Jeffry, Ni Tianzhen

This chapter assumes that the reader has a basic knowledge of Java enterprise.

What is Spring Framework?

The official website describes Spring Framework as follows:

Spring Framework is an open-source framework to create Java enterprise applications. It provides foundational support for different application architectures, including messaging, transactional data and persistence, and web.

Core Features

The IoC Container

Normally, objects in a Java application often have to take on additional responsibilities such as creating other objects, wiring them together, configuring them, and managing their life cycle. When using the Spring framework for an application, the framework takes care of many of those responsibilities. This design approach is called inversion of control (IoC) and Spring achieves it using something called the IoC container. The Spring IoC container manage the A bean is an object that is instantiated, assembled, and otherwise managed by a Spring IoC container. beans in Spring Framework. These beans are created with the configuration metadata that you supply to the container, which can be in the form of XML configuration or annotations.

To better understand how the IoC Container works, we will create an Employee class like so:

package com.company;  
public class Employee {  
    private int id;  
    private String name;  
    private String city;  
    public int getId() {  
        return id;  
    public void setId(int id) {  
        this.id = id;  
    public String getName() {  
        return name;  
    public void setName(String name) {  
        this.name = name;  
    void display(){  
        System.out.println(id+" "+name);  

We can then populate an Employee bean with the data provided in the following applicationContext.xml file:

<bean id="employeeAmy" class="com.company.Employee">  
    <property name="id">  
    <property name="name">  

We then manually instantiate a container using the applicationContext.xml file we just created:

ApplicationContext context = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("applicationContext.xml");

To prove we managed to instantiate the bean correctly, we can have a Test.java looks like the following:

Resource r = new ClassPathResource("applicationContext.xml");  
BeanFactory factory = new XmlBeanFactory(r);  
Employee e = (Employee)factory.getBean("obj");  

The output of the above code would be 20 Amy. Notice that the use of IoC container makes our code loosely coupled and easier for testing.

Spring JdbcTemplate

The Spring JdbcTemplate is a powerful mechanism to connect to the database and execute SQL queries. Traditionally, we need to use Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) API to access tabular data stored in any relational database. It is a part of JavaSE (Java Standard Edition).

In a traditional JDBC API:

  • a typical SQL query would involve quite some amount of boilerplate code, such as creating connection, statement, closing resultset, connection etc.
  • exception handling has to be manually written out.
  • transactions need to be manually created.

The Spring JdbcTemplate provides methods to write the queries directly, hence, saving time in writing such boilerplate code.

Task Spring You
Connection Management
Writing SQL Queries
Statement Management
ResultSet Management
Row Data Retrieval
Parameter Declaration
Parameter Setting
Transaction Management
Exception Handling

Spring AOP

Spring Framework addresses Concerns that can affect the whole application and should be centralized in one location in code as much as possible. Examples of these concerns include transaction management, authentication, logging, security etc. cross-cutting concerns by supporting Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP). It provides ways to dynamically add the cross-cutting concerns before, after or around the actual logic using simple pluggable configurations.

For example, say we wish to log something into the console everytime before we call the method getEmployeeById. We can then write aspect class annotated with @Aspect annotation and write point-cut expressions to log program information from Join point is a point of execution of the program, such as the execution of a method or the handling of an exception. joint-point methods.

public class EmployeeCRUDAspect {
    @Before("execution(* EmployeeManager.getEmployeeById(..))") // point-cut expressions
    public void logBefore(JoinPoint joinPoint) {
        System.out.println("EmployeeCRUDAspect.logBefore() : "
                + joinPoint.getSignature().getName());
    @After("execution(* EmployeeManager.getEmployeeById(..))") // point-cut expressions
    public void logAfter(JoinPoint joinPoint) {
        System.out.println("EmployeeCRUDAspect.logAfter() : "
                + joinPoint.getSignature().getName());

And the corresponding EmployeeManager.java file could be:

public class EmployeeManager {
    public EmployeeDTO getEmployeeById(Integer employeeId) {
        System.out.println("Method getEmployeeById() called");
        return new EmployeeDTO();

In the above example, logBefore() will be executed before the getEmployeeById() method because it matches the join point specified earlier. Similarly, logAfter() will be executed after getEmployeeById(). The output of the above code will be:

EmployeeCRUDAspect.logBefore() : getEmployeeById
Method getEmployeeById() called
EmployeeCRUDAspect.logAfter() : getEmployeeById

The declaration of aspects and Advice is an action taken by an aspect at a particular join point. advices could also be written directly in the XML templates. This makes the code more readable and also allows for easier maintainance as we can add/remove concerns by changing XML configuration file without recompiling source code.

For example, the above configuration could be written in a XML file as:

    <!-- Spring AOP Pointcut definitions -->
    <aop:pointcut id="CRUDOperation" expression="execution(* EmployeeManager.*(..))" />
    <!-- Spring AOP aspect 1 -->
    <aop:aspect id="EmployeeCRUD" ref="crudAspectBean">
        <!-- Spring AOP advises -->
        <aop:before pointcut-ref="CRUDOperation" method="logBefore" />
        <aop:after pointcut-ref="CRUDOperation" method="logAfter" />

    <!-- Spring AOP aspect instances -->
    <bean id="crudAspectBean" class="com.aop.EmployeeCRUDAspect" />
    <!-- Target Object -->
    <bean id="employeeManager" class="com.aop.EmployeeManagerImpl" />

Code sections above are adapted from Spring AOP Tutorial Example with slight modification.

Why Use Spring?

Spring makes programming Java quicker, easier, and safer. It enables you to build applications from “plain old Java objects” (POJOs) and to apply enterprise services non-invasively to POJOs. Similar to other general Java frameworks (e.g. Grails, Play), Spring helps us focus on the core task rather than the boilerplate associated with it. Apart from that, Spring has several other advantages, described in the sections below:

Benefit 1: Modularity

Spring provides different modules to achieve different services and functionality for application development. These modules are designed in such a way that no module is dependent on the others, except the Spring core module. Thus, we can optionally include one or more Spring projects depending on the need. This makes Spring lightweight and require less configuration.

Figure 1. Overview of the Spring Framework

Benefit 2: Easy Integration

Spring is designed to be compatible with many other frameworks of Java, for example Struts is an open source framework that extends the Java Servlet API and employs a Model, View, Controller (MVC) architecture. Struts and Hibernate is an object-relational mapping tool for the Java programming language. It provides a framework for mapping an object-oriented domain model to a relational database. Hibernate. It does not impose any restriction on the frameworks to be used together.

Benefit 3: Strong Community Support

Spring is an open source framework led by Pivotal Software and backed by a large consortium of organizations and individual developers. This means that it remains relevant, as evident by the ever increasing number of projects under its umbrella.

Benefit 4: Usability

One of the key aspects of any framework's popularity is how easy it is for developers to use it. Projects like Spring Boot have made bootstrapping a complex Spring project almost trivial. Spring thus is very easy to start but also powerful to extend to what programmers exactly need by providing multiple configuration options. Not to mention, it has excellent documentation and tutorials to help anyone get on-boarded.

Getting Started

The official website is a great place to get started. It includes:

Here are some external resources that can be useful:

If you need help with Spring, you can get support from Spring's community of millions of developers: