3.6 Customizing the nature of a bean

3.6.1 Lifecycle callbacks

To interact with the container's management of the bean lifecycle, you can implement the Spring InitializingBean and DisposableBean interfaces. The container calls afterPropertiesSet() for the former and destroy() for the latter to allow the bean to perform certain actions upon initialization and destruction of your beans. You can also achieve the same integration with the container without coupling your classes to Spring interfaces though the use of init-method and destroy method object definition metadata.

Internally, the Spring Framework uses BeanPostProcessor implementations to process any callback interfaces it can find and call the appropriate methods. If you need custom features or other lifecycle behavior Spring does not offer out-of-the-box, you can implement a BeanPostProcessor yourself. For more information, see Section 3.8, “Container extension points”.

The lifecycle callback interfaces are described in this section. Initialization callbacks

The org.springframework.beans.factory.InitializingBean interface allows a bean to perform initialization work after all necessary properties on the bean have been set by the container. The InitializingBean interface specifies a single method:

void afterPropertiesSet() throws Exception;

It is recommended that you do not use the InitializingBean interface because it unnecessarily couples the code to Spring. Alternatively, specify a POJO initialization method. In the case of XML-based configuration metadata, you use the init-method attribute to specify the name of the method that has a void no-argument signature. For example, the following definition:

<bean id="exampleInitBean" class="examples.ExampleBean" init-method="init"/>
public class ExampleBean {
    public void init() {
        // do some initialization work

...is exactly the same as...

<bean id="exampleInitBean" class="examples.AnotherExampleBean"/>
public class AnotherExampleBean implements InitializingBean {
    public void afterPropertiesSet() {
        // do some initialization work

... but does not couple the code to Spring. Destruction callbacks

Implementing the org.springframework.beans.factory.DisposableBean interface allows a bean to get a callback when the container containing it is destroyed. The DisposableBean interface specifies a single method:

void destroy() throws Exception;

It is recommended that you do not use the DisposableBean callback interface because it unnecessarily couples the code to Spring. Alternatively, specify a generic method that is supported by bean definitions. With XML-based configuration metadata, you use the destroy-method attribute on the <bean/>. For example, the following definition:

<bean id="exampleInitBean" class="examples.ExampleBean" destroy-method="cleanup"/>
public class ExampleBean {

    public void cleanup() {
        // do some destruction work (like releasing pooled connections)

...is exactly the same as...

<bean id="exampleInitBean" class="examples.AnotherExampleBean"/>
public class AnotherExampleBean implements DisposableBean {

    public void destroy() {
        // do some destruction work (like releasing pooled connections)

... but does not couple the code to Spring. Default initialization and destroy methods

When you write initialization and destroy method callbacks that do not use the Spring-specific InitializingBean and DisposableBean callback interfaces, you typically write methods with names such as init(), initialize(), dispose(), and so on. Ideally, the names of such lifecycle callback methods are standardized across a project so that all developers use the same method names and ensure consistency.

You can configure the Spring container to look for named initialization and destroy callback method names on every bean. This means that you, as an application developer, can write your application classes and use an initialization callback called init(), without having to configure an init-method="init" attribute with each bean definition. The Spring IoC container calls that method when the bean is created (and in accordance with the standard lifecycle callback contract described previously). This feature also enforces a consistent naming convention for initialization and destroy method callbacks.

Suppose that your initialization callback methods are named init() and destroy callback methods are named destroy(). Your class will resemble the class in the following example.

public class DefaultBlogService implements BlogService {

    private BlogDao blogDao;

    public void setBlogDao(BlogDao blogDao) {
        this.blogDao = blogDao;

    // this is (unsurprisingly) the initialization callback method
    public void init() {
        if (this.blogDao == null) {
            throw new IllegalStateException("The [blogDao] property must be set.");
<beans default-init-method="init">

    <bean id="blogService" class="com.foo.DefaultBlogService">
        <property name="blogDao" ref="blogDao" />


The presence of the default-init-method attribute on the top-level <beans/> element attribute causes the Spring IoC container to recognize a method called init on beans as the initialization method callback. When a bean is created and assembled, if the beans class has such a method, it is invoked at the appropriate time.

You configure destroy method callbacks similarly (in XML, that is) by using the default-destroy-method attribute on the top-level <beans/> element.

Where existing bean classes already have callback methods that are named at variance with the convention, you can override the default by specifying (in XML, that is) the method name using the init-method and destroy-method attributes on the <bean/> itself.

The Spring container guarantees that a configured initialization callback is called immediately after a bean is supplied with all dependencies. Thus the initialization callback is called on the raw bean reference, which means that AOP interceptors and so forth are not yet applied to the bean. A target bean is fully created first, then an AOP proxy (for example) with its interceptor chain is applied. If the target bean and the proxy are defined separately, your code can even interact with the raw target bean, bypassing the proxy. Hence, it would be inconsistent to apply the interceptors to the init method, because doing so would couple the lifecycle of the target bean with its proxy/interceptors and leave strange semantics when your code interacts directly to the raw target bean. Combining lifecycle mechanisms

As of Spring 2.5, you have three options for controlling bean lifecycle behavior: the InitializingBean and DisposableBean callback interfaces; custom init() and destroy() methods; and the @PostConstruct and @PreDestroy annotations. You can combine these mechanisms to control a given bean.


If multiple lifecycle mechanisms are configured for a bean, and each mechanism is configured with a different method name, then each configured method is executed in the order listed below. However, if the same method name is configured - for example, init() for an initialization method - for more than one of these lifecycle mechanisms, that method is executed once, as explained in the preceding section.

Multiple lifestyle mechanisms configured for the same bean, with different initialization methods, are called as follows:

  • Methods annotated with @PostConstruct

  • afterPropertiesSet() as defined by the InitializingBean callback interface

  • A custom configured init() method

Destroy methods are called in the same order:

  • Methods annotated with @PreDestroy

  • destroy() as defined by the DisposableBean callback interface

  • A custom configured destroy() method Shutting down the Spring IoC container gracefully in non-web applications


This section applies only to non-web applications. Spring's web-based ApplicationContext implementations already have code in place to shut down the Spring IoC container gracefully when the relevant web application is shut down.

If you are using Spring's IoC container in a non-web application environment; for example, in a rich client desktop environment; you register a shutdown hook with the JVM. Doing so ensures a graceful shutdown and calls the relevant destroy methods on your singleton beans so that all resources are released. Of course, you must still configure and implement these destroy callbacks correctly.

To register a shutdown hook, you call the registerShutdownHook() method that is declared on the AbstractApplicationContext class:

import org.springframework.context.support.AbstractApplicationContext;
import org.springframework.context.support.ClassPathXmlApplicationContext;

public final class Boot {

    public static void main(final String[] args) throws Exception {
        AbstractApplicationContext ctx
            = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext(new String []{"beans.xml"});

        // add a shutdown hook for the above context... 

        // app runs here...

        // main method exits, hook is called prior to the app shutting down...

3.6.2 ApplicationContextAware and BeanNameAware

When an ApplicationContext creates a class that implements the org.springframework.contxt.ApplicationContextAware interface, the class is provided with a reference to that ApplicationContext.

public interface ApplicationContextAware {

    void setApplicationContext(ApplicationContext applicationContext) throws BeansException;

Thus beans can manipulate programmatically the ApplicationContext that created them, through the ApplicationContext interface, or by casting the reference to a known subclass of this interface, such as ConfigurableApplicationContext, which exposes additional functionality. One use would be the programmatic retrieval of other beans. Sometimes this capability is useful; however, in general you should avoid it, because it couples the code to Spring and does not follow the Inversion of Control style, where collaborators are provided to beans as properties. Other methods of the ApplicationContext provide access to file resources, publishing application events, and accessing a MessageSource. These additional features are described in Section 3.13, “Additional Capabilities of the ApplicationContext”

As of Spring 2.5, autowiring is another alternative to obtain reference to the ApplicationContext. The "traditional" constructor and byType autowiring modes (as described in Section 3.4.5, “Autowiring collaborators”) can provide a dependency of type ApplicationContext for a constructor argument or setter method parameter, respectively. For more flexibility, including the ability to autowire fields and multiple parameter methods, use the new annotation-based autowiring features. If you do, the ApplicationFactory is autowired into a field, constructor argument, or method parameter that is expecting the BeanFactory type if the field, constructor, or method in question carries the @Autowired annotation. For more information, see the section entitled Section 3.9.2, “@Autowired”.

When an ApplicationContext creates a class that implements the org.springframework.beans.factory.BeanNameAware interface, the class is provided with a reference to the name defined in its associated object definition.

public interface BeanNameAware {

    void setBeanName(string name) throws BeansException;

The callback is invoked after population of normal bean properties but before an initialization callback such as InitializingBeans afterPropertiesSet or a custom init-method.