21. Externalized Configuration

Spring Boot allows you to externalize your configuration so you can work with the same application code in different environments. You can use properties files, YAML files, environment variables and command-line arguments to externalize configuration. Property values can be injected directly into your beans using the @Value annotation, accessed via Spring’s Environment abstraction or bound to structured objects.

Spring Boot uses a very particular PropertySource order that is designed to allow sensible overriding of values, properties are considered in the the following order:

  1. Command line arguments.
  2. Java System properties (System.getProperties()).
  3. OS environment variables.
  4. JNDI attributes from java:comp/env
  5. A RandomValuePropertySource that only has properties in random.*.
  6. Application properties outside of your packaged jar (application.properties including YAML and profile variants).
  7. Application properties packaged inside your jar (application.properties including YAML and profile variants).
  8. @PropertySource annotations on your @Configuration classes.
  9. Default properties (specified using SpringApplication.setDefaultProperties).

To provide a concrete example, suppose you develop a @Component that uses a name property:

import org.springframework.stereotype.*
import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.*

@Component
public class MyBean {

    @Value("${name}")
    private String name;

    // ...

}

You can bundle an application.properties inside your jar that provides a sensible default name. When running in production, an application.properties can be provided outside of your jar that overrides name; and for one-off testing, you can launch with a specific command line switch (e.g. java -jar app.jar --name="Spring").

The RandomValuePropertySource is useful for injecting random values (e.g. into secrets or test cases). It can produce integers, longs or strings, e.g.

my.secret=${random.value}
my.number=${random.int}
my.bignumber=${random.long}
my.number.less.than.ten=${random.int(10)}
my.number.in.range=${random.int[1024,65536]}

The random.int* syntax is OPEN value (,max) CLOSE where the OPEN,CLOSE are any character and value,max are integers. If max is provided then value is the minimum value and max is the maximum (exclusive).

21.1 Accessing command line properties

By default SpringApplication will convert any command line option arguments (starting with ‘--’, e.g. --server.port=9000) to a property and add it to the Spring Environment. As mentioned above, command line properties always take precedence over other property sources.

If you don’t want command line properties to be added to the Environment you can disable them using SpringApplication.setAddCommandLineProperties(false).

21.2 Application property files

SpringApplication will load properties from application.properties files in the following locations and add them to the Spring Environment:

  1. A /config subdir of the current directory.
  2. The current directory
  3. A classpath /config package
  4. The classpath root

The list is ordered by precedence (locations higher in the list override lower items).

[Note]Note

You can also use YAML ('.yml') files as an alternative to '.properties'.

If you don’t like application.properties as the configuration file name you can switch to another by specifying a spring.config.name environment property. You can also refer to an explicit location using the spring.config.location environment property (comma-separated list of directory locations, or file paths).

$ java -jar myproject.jar --spring.config.name=myproject

or

$ java -jar myproject.jar --spring.config.location=classpath:/default.properties,classpath:/override.properties

If spring.config.location contains directories (as opposed to files) they should end in / (and will be appended with the names generated from spring.config.name before being loaded). The default search path classpath:,classpath:/config,file:,file:config/ is always used, irrespective of the value of spring.config.location. In that way you can set up default values for your application in application.properties (or whatever other basename you choose with spring.config.name) and override it at runtime with a different file, keeping the defaults.

[Note]Note

if you use environment variables not system properties, most operating systems disallow period-separated key names, but you can use underscores instead (e.g. SPRING_CONFIG_NAME instead of spring.config.name).

[Note]Note

If you are running in a container then JNDI properties (in java:comp/env) or servlet context initialization parameters can be used instead of, or as well as, environment variables or system properties.

21.3 Profile specific properties

In addition to application.properties files, profile specific properties can also be defined using the naming convention application-{profile}.properties.

Profile specific properties are loaded from the same locations as standard application.properties, with profiles specific files overriding the default ones.

21.4 Placeholders in properties

The values in application.properties are filtered through the existing Environment when they are used so you can refer back to previously defined values (e.g. from System properties).

app.name=MyApp
app.description=${app.name} is a Spring Boot application
[Tip]Tip

You can also use this technique to create ‘short’ variants of existing Spring Boot properties. See the 'Section 58.3, “Use ‘short’ command line arguments”' how-to for details.

21.5 Using YAML instead of Properties

YAML is a superset of JSON, and as such is a very convenient format for specifying hierarchical configuration data. The SpringApplication class will automatically support YAML as an alternative to properties whenever you have the SnakeYAML library on your classpath.

[Note]Note

If you use ‘starter POMs’ SnakeYAML will be automatically provided via spring-boot-starter.

21.5.1 Loading YAML

Spring Boot provides two convenient classes that can be used to load YAML documents. The YamlPropertiesFactoryBean will load YAML as Properties and the YamlMapFactoryBean will load YAML as a Map.

For example, the following YAML document:

environments:
    dev:`
        url: http://dev.bar.com
        name: Developer Setup
    prod:
        url: http://foo.bar.com
        name: My Cool App

Would be transformed into these properties:

environments.dev.url=http://dev.bar.com
environments.dev.name=Developer Setup
environments.prod.url=http://foo.bar.com
environments.prod.name=My Cool App

YAML lists are represented as property keys with [index] dereferencers, for example this YAML:

my:
   servers:
       - dev.bar.com
       - foo.bar.com

Would be transformed into these properties:

my.servers[0]=dev.bar.com
my.servers[1]=foo.bar.com

To bind to properties like that using the Spring DataBinder utilities (which is what @ConfigurationProperties does) you need to have a property in the target bean of type java.util.List (or Set) and you either need to provide a setter, or initialize it with a mutable value, e.g. this will bind to the properties above

@ConfigurationProperties(prefix="my")
public class Config {
    private List<String> servers = new ArrayList<String>();

    public List<String> getServers() {
        return this.servers;
    }
}

21.5.2 Exposing YAML as properties in the Spring Environment

The YamlPropertySourceLoader class can be used to expose YAML as a PropertySource in the Spring Environment. This allows you to use the familiar @Value annotation with placeholders syntax to access YAML properties.

21.5.3 Multi-profile YAML documents

You can specify multiple profile-specific YAML documents in a single file by by using a spring.profiles key to indicate when the document applies. For example:

server:
    address: 192.168.1.100
---
spring:
    profiles: development
server:
    address: 127.0.0.1
---
spring:
    profiles: production
server:
    address: 192.168.1.120

In the example above, the server.address property will be 127.0.0.1 if the development profile is active. If the development and production profiles are not enabled, then the value for the property will be 192.168.1.100

21.5.4 YAML shortcomings

YAML files can’t be loaded via the @PropertySource annotation. So in the case that you need to load values that way, you need to use a properties file.

21.6 Typesafe Configuration Properties

Using the @Value("${property}") annotation to inject configuration properties can sometimes be cumbersome, especially if you are working with multiple properties or your data is hierarchical in nature. Spring Boot provides an alternative method of working with properties that allows strongly typed beans to govern and validate the configuration of your application. For example:

@Component
@ConfigurationProperties(prefix="connection")
public class ConnectionSettings {

    private String username;

    private InetAddress remoteAddress;

    // ... getters and setters

}

When the @EnableConfigurationProperties annotation is applied to your @Configuration, any beans annotated with @ConfigurationProperties will be automatically configured from the Environment properties. This style of configuration works particularly well with the SpringApplication external YAML configuration:

# application.yml

connection:
    username: admin
    remoteAddress: 192.168.1.1

# additional configuration as required

To work with @ConfigurationProperties beans you can just inject them in the same way as any other bean.

@Service
public class MyService {

    @Autowired
    private ConnectionSettings connection;

     //...

    @PostConstruct
    public void openConnection() {
        Server server = new Server();
        this.connection.configure(server);
    }

}

It is also possible to shortcut the registration of @ConfigurationProperties bean definitions by simply listing the properties classes directly in the @EnableConfigurationProperties annotation:

@Configuration
@EnableConfigurationProperties(ConnectionSettings.class)
public class MyConfiguration {
}

21.6.1 Relaxed binding

Spring Boot uses some relaxed rules for binding Environment properties to @ConfigurationProperties beans, so there doesn’t need to be an exact match between the Environment property name and the bean property name. Common examples where this is useful include underscore separated (e.g. context_path binds to contextPath), and capitalized (e.g. PORT binds to port) environment properties.

Spring will attempt to coerce the external application properties to the right type when it binds to the @ConfigurationProperties beans. If you need custom type conversion you can provide a ConversionService bean (with bean id conversionService) or custom property editors (via a CustomEditorConfigurer bean).

21.6.2 @ConfigurationProperties Validation

Spring Boot will attempt to validate external configuration, by default using JSR-303 (if it is on the classpath). You can simply add JSR-303 javax.validation constraint annotations to your @ConfigurationProperties class:

@Component
@ConfigurationProperties(prefix="connection")
public class ConnectionSettings {

    @NotNull
    private InetAddress remoteAddress;

    // ... getters and setters

}

You can also add a custom Spring Validator by creating a bean definition called configurationPropertiesValidator.

[Tip]Tip

The spring-boot-actuator module includes an endpoint that exposes all @ConfigurationProperties beans. Simply point your web browser to /configprops or use the equivalent JMX endpoint. See the 'Production ready features'. section for details.