This guide describes how to use Spring Session to transparently leverage a relational database to back a web application’s HttpSession when using Spring Boot.

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

1. Updating Dependencies

Before you use Spring Session, you must ensure to update your dependencies. We assume you are working with a working Spring Boot web application. If you are using Maven, ensure to add the following dependencies:

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

	<dependency>
		<groupId>org.springframework.session</groupId>
		<artifactId>spring-session-jdbc</artifactId>
	</dependency>
</dependencies>

Spring Boot provides dependency management for Spring Session modules, so there’s no need to explicitly declare dependency version.

2. Spring Boot Configuration

After adding the required dependencies, we can create our Spring Boot configuration. Thanks to first-class auto configuration support, setting up Spring Session backed by a relational database is as simple as adding a single configuration property to your application.properties:

src/main/resources/application.properties
spring.session.store-type=jdbc

Under the hood, Spring Boot will apply configuration that is equivalent to manually adding @EnableJdbcHttpSession annotation. 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.

Further customization is possible using application.properties:

src/main/resources/application.properties
server.session.timeout= # Session timeout in seconds.
spring.session.jdbc.initializer.enabled= # Create the required session tables on startup if necessary. Enabled automatically if the default table name is set or a custom schema is configured.
spring.session.jdbc.schema=classpath:org/springframework/session/jdbc/[email protected]@[email protected]@.sql # Path to the SQL file to use to initialize the database schema.
spring.session.jdbc.table-name=SPRING_SESSION # Name of database table used to store sessions.

For more information, refer to Spring Session portion of the Spring Boot documentation.

3. Configuring the DataSource

Spring Boot automatically creates a DataSource that connects Spring Session to an embedded instance of H2 database. In a production environment you need to ensure to update your configuration to point to your relational database. For example, you can include the following in your application.properties

src/main/resources/application.properties
spring.datasource.url=jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/myapp
spring.datasource.username=myapp
spring.datasource.password=secret

For more information, refer to Configure a DataSource portion of the Spring Boot documentation.

4. Servlet Container Initialization

Our Spring Boot 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, Spring needs to load our Config class. Last we need to ensure that our Servlet Container (i.e. Tomcat) uses our springSessionRepositoryFilter for every request. Fortunately, Spring Boot takes care of both of these steps for us.

5. httpsession-jdbc-boot Sample Application

The httpsession-jdbc-boot Sample Application demonstrates how to use Spring Session to transparently leverage H2 database to back a web application’s HttpSession when using Spring Boot.

5.1. Running the httpsession-jdbc-boot Sample Application

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

$ ./gradlew :samples:httpsession-jdbc-boot:bootRun

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

5.2. Exploring the security Sample Application

Try using the application. Enter the following to log in:

  • Username user

  • Password password

Now click the Login button. You should now see a message indicating your are logged in with the user entered previously. The user’s information is stored in H2 database rather than Tomcat’s HttpSession implementation.

5.3. How does it work?

Instead of using Tomcat’s HttpSession, we are actually persisting the values in H2 database. Spring Session replaces the HttpSession with an implementation that is backed by a relational database. When Spring Security’s SecurityContextPersistenceFilter saves the SecurityContext to the HttpSession it is then persisted into H2 database.

When a new HttpSession is created, 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 H2 web console available at: http://localhost:8080/h2-console/ (use jdbc:h2:mem:testdb for JDBC URL)

Now visit the application at http://localhost:8080/ and observe that we are no longer authenticated.