70. Traditional deployment

70.1 Create a deployable war file

Use the SpringBootServletInitializer base class, which is picked up by Spring’s Servlet 3.0 support on deployment. Add an extension of that to your project and build a war file as normal. For more detail, see the “Converting a jar Project to a war” guide on the spring.io website and the sample below.

The war file can also be executable if you use the Spring Boot build tools. In that case the embedded container classes (to launch Tomcat for instance) have to be added to the war in a lib-provided directory. The tools will take care of that as long as the dependencies are marked as “provided” in Maven or Gradle. Here’s a Maven example in the Boot Samples.

70.2 Create a deployable war file for older servlet containers

Older Servlet containers don’t have support for the ServletContextInitializer bootstrap process used in Servlet 3.0. You can still use Spring and Spring Boot in these containers but you are going to need to add a web.xml to your application and configure it to load an ApplicationContext via a DispatcherServlet.

70.3 Convert an existing application to Spring Boot

For a non-web application it should be easy (throw away the code that creates your ApplicationContext and replace it with calls to SpringApplication or SpringApplicationBuilder). Spring MVC web applications are generally amenable to first creating a deployable war application, and then migrating it later to an executable war and/or jar. Useful reading is in the Getting Started Guide on Converting a jar to a war.

Create a deployable war by extending SpringBootServletInitializer (e.g. in a class called Application), and add the Spring Boot @EnableAutoConfiguration annotation. Example:

public class Application extends SpringBootServletInitializer {

    protected SpringApplicationBuilder configure(SpringApplicationBuilder application) {
        return application.sources(Application.class);


Remember that whatever you put in the sources is just a Spring ApplicationContext and normally anything that already works should work here. There might be some beans you can remove later and let Spring Boot provide its own defaults for them, but it should be possible to get something working first.

Static resources can be moved to /public (or /static or /resources or /META-INF/resources) in the classpath root. Same for messages.properties (Spring Boot detects this automatically in the root of the classpath).

Vanilla usage of Spring DispatcherServlet and Spring Security should require no further changes. If you have other features in your application, using other servlets or filters for instance, then you may need to add some configuration to your Application context, replacing those elements from the web.xml as follows:

  • A @Bean of type Servlet or ServletRegistrationBean installs that bean in the container as if it was a <servlet/> and <servlet-mapping/> in web.xml.
  • A @Bean of type Filter or FilterRegistrationBean behaves similarly (like a <filter/> and <filter-mapping/>.
  • An ApplicationContext in an XML file can be added to an @Import in your Application. Or simple cases where annotation configuration is heavily used already can be recreated in a few lines as @Bean definitions.

Once the war is working we make it executable by adding a main method to our Application, e.g.

public static void main(String[] args) {
    SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);

Applications can fall into more than one category:

  • Servlet 3.0 applications with no web.xml.
  • Applications with a web.xml.
  • Applications with a context hierarchy.
  • Applications without a context hierarchy.

All of these should be amenable to translation, but each might require slightly different tricks.

Servlet 3.0 applications might translate pretty easily if they already use the Spring Servlet 3.0 initializer support classes. Normally all the code from an existing WebApplicationInitializer can be moved into a SpringBootServletInitializer. If your existing application has more than one ApplicationContext (e.g. if it uses AbstractDispatcherServletInitializer) then you might be able to squash all your context sources into a single SpringApplication. The main complication you might encounter is if that doesn’t work and you need to maintain the context hierarchy. See the entry on building a hierarchy for examples. An existing parent context that contains web-specific features will usually need to be broken up so that all the ServletContextAware components are in the child context.

Applications that are not already Spring applications might be convertible to a Spring Boot application, and the guidance above might help, but your mileage may vary.