This guide describes how to use Spring Session to transparently leverage Redis to back a web application’s HttpSession with XML based configuration.

The completed guide can be found in the httpsession-xml sample application.

1. Updating Dependencies

Before you use Spring Session, you must ensure to update your dependencies. If you are using Maven, ensure to add the following dependencies:

pom.xml
<dependencies>
	<!-- ... -->

	<dependency>
		<groupId>org.springframework.session</groupId>
		<artifactId>spring-session-data-redis</artifactId>
		<version>2.1.0.BUILD-SNAPSHOT</version>
		<type>pom</type>
	</dependency>
	<dependency>
		<groupId>io.lettuce</groupId>
		<artifactId>lettuce-core</artifactId>
		<version>5.1.0.M1</version>
	</dependency>
	<dependency>
		<groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
		<artifactId>spring-web</artifactId>
		<version>5.1.0.BUILD-SNAPSHOT</version>
	</dependency>
</dependencies>

Since we are using a SNAPSHOT version, we need to ensure to add the Spring Snapshot Maven Repository. Ensure you have the following in your pom.xml:

pom.xml
<repositories>

	<!-- ... -->

	<repository>
		<id>spring-snapshot</id>
		<url>https://repo.spring.io/libs-snapshot</url>
	</repository>
</repositories>

2. Spring XML Configuration

After adding the required dependencies, we can create our Spring configuration. The Spring configuration is responsible for creating a Servlet Filter that replaces the HttpSession implementation with an implementation backed by Spring Session. Add the following Spring Configuration:

src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/spring/session.xml
(1)
<context:annotation-config/>
<bean class="org.springframework.session.data.redis.config.annotation.web.http.RedisHttpSessionConfiguration"/>

(2)
<bean class="org.springframework.data.redis.connection.lettuce.LettuceConnectionFactory"/>
1 We use the combination of <context:annotation-config/> and RedisHttpSessionConfiguration because Spring Session does not yet provide XML Namespace support (see gh-104). This creates a Spring Bean with the name of springSessionRepositoryFilter that implements Filter. The filter is what is in charge of replacing the HttpSession implementation to be backed by Spring Session. In this instance Spring Session is backed by Redis.
2 We create a RedisConnectionFactory that connects Spring Session to the Redis Server. We configure the connection to connect to localhost on the default port (6379) For more information on configuring Spring Data Redis, refer to the reference documentation.

3. XML Servlet Container Initialization

Our Spring Configuration created a Spring Bean named springSessionRepositoryFilter that implements Filter. The springSessionRepositoryFilter bean is responsible for replacing the HttpSession with a custom implementation that is backed by Spring Session.

In order for our Filter to do its magic, we need to instruct Spring to load our session.xml configuration. We do this with the following configuration:

src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml
<context-param>
	<param-name>contextConfigLocation</param-name>
	<param-value>
		/WEB-INF/spring/*.xml
	</param-value>
</context-param>
<listener>
	<listener-class>
		org.springframework.web.context.ContextLoaderListener
	</listener-class>
</listener>

The ContextLoaderListener reads the contextConfigLocation and picks up our session.xml configuration.

Last we need to ensure that our Servlet Container (i.e. Tomcat) uses our springSessionRepositoryFilter for every request. The following snippet performs this last step for us:

src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml
<filter>
	<filter-name>springSessionRepositoryFilter</filter-name>
	<filter-class>org.springframework.web.filter.DelegatingFilterProxy</filter-class>
</filter>
<filter-mapping>
	<filter-name>springSessionRepositoryFilter</filter-name>
	<url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
	<dispatcher>REQUEST</dispatcher>
	<dispatcher>ERROR</dispatcher>
</filter-mapping>

The DelegatingFilterProxy will look up a Bean by the name of springSessionRepositoryFilter and cast it to a Filter. For every request that DelegatingFilterProxy is invoked, the springSessionRepositoryFilter will be invoked.

4. httpsession-xml Sample Application

4.1. Running the httpsession-xml Sample Application

You can run the sample by obtaining the source code and invoking the following command:

For the sample to work, you must install Redis 2.8+ on localhost and run it with the default port (6379). Alternatively, you can update the RedisConnectionFactory to point to a Redis server. Another option is to use Docker to run Redis on localhost. See Docker Redis repository for detailed instructions.

$ ./gradlew :spring-session-sample-xml-redis:tomcatRun

You should now be able to access the application at http://localhost:8080/

4.2. Exploring the httpsession-xml Sample Application

Try using the application. Fill out the form with the following information:

  • Attribute Name: username

  • Attribute Value: rob

Now click the Set Attribute button. You should now see the values displayed in the table.

4.3. How does it work?

We interact with the standard HttpSession in the SessionServlet shown below:

src/main/java/sample/SessionServlet.java
public class SessionServlet extends HttpServlet {

	@Override
	protected void doPost(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp)
			throws ServletException, IOException {
		String attributeName = req.getParameter("attributeName");
		String attributeValue = req.getParameter("attributeValue");
		req.getSession().setAttribute(attributeName, attributeValue);
		resp.sendRedirect(req.getContextPath() + "/");
	}

	private static final long serialVersionUID = 2878267318695777395L;
}

Instead of using Tomcat’s HttpSession, we are actually persisting the values in Redis. Spring Session creates a cookie named SESSION in your browser that contains the id of your session. Go ahead and view the cookies (click for help with Chrome or Firefox).

If you like, you can easily remove the session using redis-cli. For example, on a Linux based system you can type:

$ redis-cli keys '*' | xargs redis-cli del
The Redis documentation has instructions for installing redis-cli.

Alternatively, you can also delete the explicit key. Enter the following into your terminal ensuring to replace 7e8383a4-082c-4ffe-a4bc-c40fd3363c5e with the value of your SESSION cookie:

$ redis-cli del spring:session:sessions:7e8383a4-082c-4ffe-a4bc-c40fd3363c5e

Now visit the application at http://localhost:8080/ and observe that the attribute we added is no longer displayed.