Spring Framework Introduction and Environment Setup

Spring Framework Introduction and Environment Setup

In this article, I am going to give you a brief introduction to the Spring Framework and Environment Setup. So, here we will discuss, what is a framework, what are the different types of Frameworks, what is spring framework, Why the Spring Framework is, the advantages and disadvantages of the Spring Framework, the evolution of the spring framework, and finally, we will discuss the Environment Setup of the Spring Framework.

What is a Framework?
  1. While developing Java projects, most of the projects contain some common functionality. If the common functionalities are coded by the developers in every project, then it will increase the burden on developers. In order to reduce the burden on developers, third-party vendors started providing frameworks.
  2. A framework is defined as an abstraction layer on top of the existing technologies and concepts of Java.
  3. With the help of frameworks, the burden on developers reduces because around 50% of the code of a project will be given by a framework only.
  4. With the help of frameworks, a project can be developed fastly, delivered to the clients as early as possible, and can be easily maintained.
  5. A framework will reduce the burden on developers. So today almost all Java real-time projects are developing through frameworks.
  6. A framework is not a technology. It is a layer on top of existing technologies.
Types of Frameworks:

Frameworks are of 2 types

  1. Invasive: Invasive framework will force a developer to extend a framework or implement a framework interface while creating projects. For example, the Struts framework is invasive.
  2. Non-invasive: Non-invasive framework does not force developers to extend a framework class or implement a framework interface. For example, Hibernate and Spring are the non-invasive frameworks
What is Spring Framework?

The Spring Framework is a popular open-source application development framework for Java. It provides a comprehensive programming and configuration model for building Java applications of all types, from small standalone applications to large-scale enterprise systems. Spring aims to simplify Java development by offering a cohesive and modular approach to building applications.

At its core, the Spring Framework is based on the principle of dependency injection (DI) and inversion of control (IoC). Dependency injection allows objects to define their dependencies explicitly, and the framework is responsible for providing those dependencies when needed. This approach promotes loose coupling between components, making the code more modular, flexible, and easier to maintain.

Benefits of Spring Framework

The Spring Framework offers several benefits that contribute to its popularity and adoption among developers. Here are some key advantages of using the Spring Framework:

  • Simplified Development: Spring provides a cohesive and modular approach to application development. It offers abstractions and ready-to-use components for common tasks, reducing the amount of boilerplate code and simplifying development. This results in faster development cycles and improved productivity.
  • Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control: The core principle of Spring is dependency injection (DI) and inversion of control (IoC). DI allows for loose coupling between components, making the code more modular, maintainable, and testable. IoC enables the framework to manage object creation and lifecycle, reducing the burden on developers.
  • Modular and Lightweight: The Spring Framework is highly modular, allowing developers to choose and use only the required components. This modularity results in a lightweight footprint, faster startup times, and improved performance. It also enables easy integration with other frameworks and libraries.
  • Testability: Spring promotes testability by providing features like dependency injection and mocking support. Components can be easily isolated and tested in isolation, facilitating unit testing and ensuring the reliability of the application.
  • AOP and Cross-cutting Concerns: Spring supports aspect-oriented programming (AOP), enabling the separation of cross-cutting concerns such as logging, security, and transaction management from the core application logic. This promotes better code organization and reusability.
  • Integration with Existing Technologies: Spring integrates seamlessly with various existing technologies and frameworks, such as Java EE, ORM frameworks (Hibernate, JPA), messaging systems, and more. It provides consistent and simplified APIs for working with these technologies, reducing development effort and enhancing compatibility.
  • Robust Transaction Management: Spring offers a comprehensive and flexible transaction management mechanism. It supports both programmatic and declarative transaction management, allowing developers to handle database transactions efficiently and reliably.
  • Community and Ecosystem: The Spring Framework has a large and active community of developers, which means extensive support, resources, and third-party libraries. The community actively contributes to the framework’s development, ensuring regular updates, bug fixes, and enhancements.
  • Security: Spring provides robust security features through the Spring Security module. It offers authentication, authorization, and secure communication capabilities, making it easier to implement secure applications.
  • Continuous Innovation: The Spring team continuously innovates and introduces new features and enhancements. They keep up with the evolving technology landscape, ensuring that the framework remains relevant and supports modern development practices.
Drawbacks of Spring Framework

While the Spring Framework offers numerous benefits, it’s important to consider some of the potential drawbacks associated with its usage. Here are a few limitations to be aware of:

  • Steep Learning Curve: The Spring Framework has a steep learning curve, especially for beginners or developers who are new to dependency injection and inversion of control concepts. The framework has a vast ecosystem and multiple modules, which can be overwhelming at first. It may take some time and effort to become proficient in using Spring effectively.
  • Configuration Complexity: Spring configurations can become complex, particularly when using XML-based configurations. As the application grows in size and complexity, managing the configuration files can become challenging. However, Spring has introduced annotation-based configuration options, such as JavaConfig and Spring Boot, which alleviate some of the configuration complexities.
  • Runtime Overhead: Although Spring is lightweight, it still incurs some runtime overhead due to the additional layers of abstraction and the dynamic nature of dependency injection. While this overhead is generally negligible for most applications, it might be a consideration for performance-critical or resource-constrained environments.
  • Frequent Updates and Version Compatibility: The Spring Framework is actively developed, which means new versions and updates are released regularly. While this demonstrates a vibrant community, it can lead to challenges in terms of version compatibility. Upgrading to newer versions might require adjustments to the code and configuration, which can be time-consuming.
  • Tight Coupling with Spring APIs: If an application heavily relies on Spring-specific APIs, it may become tightly coupled with the framework. This can make it difficult to migrate away from Spring or adopt alternative technologies in the future. It’s important to strike a balance between leveraging Spring’s features and maintaining flexibility and portability.
  • Increased Complexity in Simple Applications: For small and simple applications, the use of the Spring Framework can introduce unnecessary complexity. If the application does not have significant scalability or modularity requirements, adopting Spring might be overkill and add unnecessary development overhead.
  • Lack of Standardization: While Spring provides a comprehensive ecosystem, it is not a standardized framework compared to some other alternatives. This lack of standardization can lead to fragmentation and inconsistencies when working on projects involving multiple teams or integrating with external systems.
  • Limited Performance Monitoring and Debugging Tools: Spring does not provide extensive built-in tools for performance monitoring and debugging. Developers might need to rely on third-party tools and libraries to address these aspects.

It’s worth noting that many of these drawbacks can be mitigated with proper planning, training, and experience. The Spring Framework has a large and supportive community that actively addresses these limitations, provides solutions, and offers guidance to overcome challenges.

Features of Spring Framework

The Spring Framework provides a wide range of features and functionalities that simplify application development. Some of the notable features include:

  • Inversion of Control (IoC) Container: The IoC container manages object creation, wiring, and lifecycle. It eliminates the need for manual object creation and allows developers to focus on writing business logic.
  • Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP): AOP enables the separation of cross-cutting concerns such as logging, security, and transaction management from the core application logic. Spring offers declarative AOP support, allowing developers to define aspects using annotations or XML configurations.
  • Spring MVC: Spring MVC is a powerful web application framework built on top of the Spring Framework. It provides a model-view-controller architecture for building flexible and robust web applications.
  • Data Access Abstraction: Spring offers a consistent and simplified approach to working with various data access technologies, including JDBC, JPA, and Hibernate. It provides a template-based approach and reduces the boilerplate code required for database interactions.
  • Transaction Management: Spring provides a transaction abstraction layer that supports both programmatic and declarative transaction management. It seamlessly integrates with various transaction managers, such as Java Transaction API (JTA) and data source-specific managers.
  • Security: The Spring Security module offers comprehensive security features for applications, including authentication, authorization, and secure communication. It can be easily integrated with other Spring modules and third-party frameworks.
  • Testing Support: The Spring Framework provides robust testing support through the Spring TestContext Framework. It facilitates integration testing, unit testing, and mocking of Spring components.
  • Integration with other frameworks: Spring integrates well with other popular frameworks and technologies, such as Java EE, Java Persistence API (JPA), JavaServer Faces (JSF), and more.
Why Spring Framework?
  1. Java is introduced in 1995 and in the initial days of JAVA, the famous programming is JAVA applets.
  2. With Java, applets industry developers assumed that Java is only for gaming applications using applets.
  3. To come out of the industry path on Java, SUN Microsystems introduced JAVA Beans.
  4. With Java Beans, the industry has identified adding services to the business is a problem.
  5. To solve problems with beans, SUN Microsystems introduced EJB (Enterprise Java Beans) technology.
  6. With EJB business logic and services can be added together but again there are some problems identified with EJB. (1)
  7. Many files are needed to develop an application.
  8. EJB is a server-side technology if any problem has occurred then we need to reload the application after modification, and then we need to restart the server. It is a time-taken process and a burden on developers.
  9. To solve the problems of working with EJB, Rod Johnson has created Spring Framework.
  10. Spring Framework makes application development easy by injecting services into business logic created in ordinary Java classes (POJO).
  11. Finally, Spring Framework is introduced as an alternate for EJB.

Why Spring Framework?

Evolution of Spring Framework

The framework was first released in June 2003 under the Apache license version 2.0. The first milestone release of the Spring framework (1.0) was released in March 2004. Spring 2.0, which came in 2006, simplified the XML config files. Spring 4.0, which came in 2014, had support for Java 8.

  1. The first version of the Spring framework was written by Rod Johnson along with a book in 2002. 
  2. The framework was first released in June 2003 under the Apache license version 2.0. 
  3. The first milestone release of the Spring framework (1.0) was released in March 2004. 
  4. Spring 2.0, which came in 2006, simplified the XML config files.
  5. Spring 2.5, which came in 2007, introduced annotation configurations.
  6. Spring 3.2, which came in 2012, introduced Java configuration, had support for Java 7, Hibernate 4, and Servlet 3.0, and also required a minimum of Java 1.5. 
  7. Spring 4.0, which came in 2014, had support for Java 8. 
  8. Spring Boot also was introduced in 2014.
  9. Spring 5.0 came out in 2017. Spring Boot 2. x has support for Spring 5.

Environment Setup of Spring Framework

Before starting to develop Applications using Spring Framework in Java, let us do the setup in 4 simple steps

Step 1: Set up an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). We have used Microsoft Visual Studio (VS Code). You have options such as Eclipse or Theia.

Step 2: Install the Spring boot extension pack. This comes with the following extensions:

  • Spring boot tools
  • Spring initializr
  • Spring boot dashboard

Environment Setup of Spring Framework

This is found in the extensions tab, which is in the left sidebar of the VS Code window.

Step 3: Install Java along with its extension packs. Download Java Development Kit (JDK) from https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/java/openjdk/download. Select the appropriate OS from the available list as shown.

Environment Setup of Spring Framework

Step 4: Download the “Extension Pack for Java” extension to make it easier to code in Java using VS Code. This is found in the extensions tab, which is in the left sidebar of the VS Code window.

Spring Framework Introduction and Environment Setup

Congratulations‼ Your setup is complete and now you are ready for ‘Hello World!’

How to use Spring Initializr in VS Code?

Open VS Code and press the View 🡪 Command Palate button. Alternatively, you may also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-P (or CMD-Shift-P on MacOS) to open this view.

How to use Spring Initializr in VS Code?

Search for “Spring Initializr” and you should be greeted with three options:

How to use Spring Initializr in VS Code?

Then, follow the wizard to start the project. Here, we have created a Maven project and used the following parameters:

  • Spring version: 3.0.5
  • Programming language: Java
  • Group ID: com.dotnet
  • Artifact ID: helloworld
  • Packaging type: Jar
  • Java version: 17
  • Dependencies: none (we will add them later)

Now, select a folder for VS Code to create the project. VS Code downloads the file structure, which needs to be unzipped and installed.

In the next article, I am going to discuss the Spring Framework Architecture. Here, in this article, I try to give an Introduction to the Spring Framework and Environment Setup. I hope you enjoy this Spring Framework Introduction and Environment Setup article.

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