11. Developing Your First Spring Boot Application

This section describes how to develop a simple “Hello World!” web application that highlights some of Spring Boot’s key features. We use Maven to build this project, since most IDEs support it.

[Tip]Tip

The spring.io web site contains many “Getting Started” guides that use Spring Boot. If you need to solve a specific problem, check there first.

You can shortcut the steps below by going to start.spring.io and choosing the "Web" starter from the dependencies searcher. Doing so generates a new project structure so that you can start coding right away. Check the Spring Initializr documentation for more details.

Before we begin, open a terminal and run the following commands to ensure that you have valid versions of Java and Maven installed:

$ java -version
java version "1.8.0_102"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_102-b14)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.102-b14, mixed mode)
$ mvn -v
Apache Maven 3.5.4 (1edded0938998edf8bf061f1ceb3cfdeccf443fe; 2018-06-17T14:33:14-04:00)
Maven home: /usr/local/Cellar/maven/3.3.9/libexec
Java version: 1.8.0_102, vendor: Oracle Corporation
[Note]Note

This sample needs to be created in its own folder. Subsequent instructions assume that you have created a suitable folder and that it is your current directory.

11.1 Creating the POM

We need to start by creating a Maven pom.xml file. The pom.xml is the recipe that is used to build your project. Open your favorite text editor and add the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
	xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 https://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
	<modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

	<groupId>com.example</groupId>
	<artifactId>myproject</artifactId>
	<version>0.0.1-SNAPSHOT</version>

	<parent>
		<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
		<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-parent</artifactId>
		<version>2.1.11.BUILD-SNAPSHOT</version>
	</parent>

	<description/>
	<developers>
		<developer/>
	</developers>
	<licenses>
		<license/>
	</licenses>
	<scm>
		<url/>
	</scm>
	<url/>

	<!-- Additional lines to be added here... -->

	<!-- (you don't need this if you are using a .RELEASE version) -->
	<repositories>
		<repository>
			<id>spring-snapshots</id>
			<url>https://repo.spring.io/snapshot</url>
			<snapshots><enabled>true</enabled></snapshots>
		</repository>
		<repository>
			<id>spring-milestones</id>
			<url>https://repo.spring.io/milestone</url>
		</repository>
	</repositories>
	<pluginRepositories>
		<pluginRepository>
			<id>spring-snapshots</id>
			<url>https://repo.spring.io/snapshot</url>
		</pluginRepository>
		<pluginRepository>
			<id>spring-milestones</id>
			<url>https://repo.spring.io/milestone</url>
		</pluginRepository>
	</pluginRepositories>
</project>

The preceding listing should give you a working build. You can test it by running mvn package (for now, you can ignore the “jar will be empty - no content was marked for inclusion!” warning).

[Note]Note

At this point, you could import the project into an IDE (most modern Java IDEs include built-in support for Maven). For simplicity, we continue to use a plain text editor for this example.

11.2 Adding Classpath Dependencies

Spring Boot provides a number of “Starters” that let you add jars to your classpath. Our sample application has already used spring-boot-starter-parent in the parent section of the POM. The spring-boot-starter-parent is a special starter that provides useful Maven defaults. It also provides a dependency-management section so that you can omit version tags for “blessed” dependencies.

Other “Starters” provide dependencies that you are likely to need when developing a specific type of application. Since we are developing a web application, we add a spring-boot-starter-web dependency. Before that, we can look at what we currently have by running the following command:

$ mvn dependency:tree

[INFO] com.example:myproject:jar:0.0.1-SNAPSHOT

The mvn dependency:tree command prints a tree representation of your project dependencies. You can see that spring-boot-starter-parent provides no dependencies by itself. To add the necessary dependencies, edit your pom.xml and add the spring-boot-starter-web dependency immediately below the parent section:

<dependencies>
	<dependency>
		<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
		<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-web</artifactId>
	</dependency>
</dependencies>

If you run mvn dependency:tree again, you see that there are now a number of additional dependencies, including the Tomcat web server and Spring Boot itself.

11.3 Writing the Code

To finish our application, we need to create a single Java file. By default, Maven compiles sources from src/main/java, so you need to create that folder structure and then add a file named src/main/java/Example.java to contain the following code:

import org.springframework.boot.*;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.*;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.*;

@RestController
@EnableAutoConfiguration
public class Example {

	@RequestMapping("/")
	String home() {
		return "Hello World!";
	}

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

}

Although there is not much code here, quite a lot is going on. We step through the important parts in the next few sections.

11.3.1 The @RestController and @RequestMapping Annotations

The first annotation on our Example class is @RestController. This is known as a stereotype annotation. It provides hints for people reading the code and for Spring that the class plays a specific role. In this case, our class is a web @Controller, so Spring considers it when handling incoming web requests.

The @RequestMapping annotation provides “routing” information. It tells Spring that any HTTP request with the / path should be mapped to the home method. The @RestController annotation tells Spring to render the resulting string directly back to the caller.

[Tip]Tip

The @RestController and @RequestMapping annotations are Spring MVC annotations (they are not specific to Spring Boot). See the MVC section in the Spring Reference Documentation for more details.

11.3.2 The @EnableAutoConfiguration Annotation

The second class-level annotation is @EnableAutoConfiguration. This annotation tells Spring Boot to “guess” how you want to configure Spring, based on the jar dependencies that you have added. Since spring-boot-starter-web added Tomcat and Spring MVC, the auto-configuration assumes that you are developing a web application and sets up Spring accordingly.

11.3.3 The “main” Method

The final part of our application is the main method. This is just a standard method that follows the Java convention for an application entry point. Our main method delegates to Spring Boot’s SpringApplication class by calling run. SpringApplication bootstraps our application, starting Spring, which, in turn, starts the auto-configured Tomcat web server. We need to pass Example.class as an argument to the run method to tell SpringApplication which is the primary Spring component. The args array is also passed through to expose any command-line arguments.

11.4 Running the Example

At this point, your application should work. Since you used the spring-boot-starter-parent POM, you have a useful run goal that you can use to start the application. Type mvn spring-boot:run from the root project directory to start the application. You should see output similar to the following:

$ mvn spring-boot:run

  .   ____          _            __ _ _
 /\\ / ___'_ __ _ _(_)_ __  __ _ \ \ \ \
( ( )\___ | '_ | '_| | '_ \/ _` | \ \ \ \
 \\/  ___)| |_)| | | | | || (_| |  ) ) ) )
  '  |____| .__|_| |_|_| |_\__, | / / / /
 =========|_|==============|___/=/_/_/_/
 :: Spring Boot ::  (v2.1.11.BUILD-SNAPSHOT)
....... . . .
....... . . . (log output here)
....... . . .
........ Started Example in 2.222 seconds (JVM running for 6.514)

If you open a web browser to localhost:8080, you should see the following output:

Hello World!

To gracefully exit the application, press ctrl-c.

11.5 Creating an Executable Jar

We finish our example by creating a completely self-contained executable jar file that we could run in production. Executable jars (sometimes called “fat jars”) are archives containing your compiled classes along with all of the jar dependencies that your code needs to run.

To create an executable jar, we need to add the spring-boot-maven-plugin to our pom.xml. To do so, insert the following lines just below the dependencies section:

<build>
	<plugins>
		<plugin>
			<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
			<artifactId>spring-boot-maven-plugin</artifactId>
		</plugin>
	</plugins>
</build>
[Note]Note

The spring-boot-starter-parent POM includes <executions> configuration to bind the repackage goal. If you do not use the parent POM, you need to declare this configuration yourself. See the plugin documentation for details.

Save your pom.xml and run mvn package from the command line, as follows:

$ mvn package

[INFO] Scanning for projects...
[INFO]
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Building myproject 0.0.1-SNAPSHOT
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] .... ..
[INFO] --- maven-jar-plugin:2.4:jar (default-jar) @ myproject ---
[INFO] Building jar: /Users/developer/example/spring-boot-example/target/myproject-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar
[INFO]
[INFO] --- spring-boot-maven-plugin:2.1.11.BUILD-SNAPSHOT:repackage (default) @ myproject ---
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] BUILD SUCCESS
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you look in the target directory, you should see myproject-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar. The file should be around 10 MB in size. If you want to peek inside, you can use jar tvf, as follows:

$ jar tvf target/myproject-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar

You should also see a much smaller file named myproject-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar.original in the target directory. This is the original jar file that Maven created before it was repackaged by Spring Boot.

To run that application, use the java -jar command, as follows:

$ java -jar target/myproject-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar

  .   ____          _            __ _ _
 /\\ / ___'_ __ _ _(_)_ __  __ _ \ \ \ \
( ( )\___ | '_ | '_| | '_ \/ _` | \ \ \ \
 \\/  ___)| |_)| | | | | || (_| |  ) ) ) )
  '  |____| .__|_| |_|_| |_\__, | / / / /
 =========|_|==============|___/=/_/_/_/
 :: Spring Boot ::  (v2.1.11.BUILD-SNAPSHOT)
....... . . .
....... . . . (log output here)
....... . . .
........ Started Example in 2.536 seconds (JVM running for 2.864)

As before, to exit the application, press ctrl-c.