This guide describes how to use Spring Session to transparently leverage Redis to back a web application’s HttpSession when using REST endpoints.

The completed guide can be found in the rest sample application.

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:

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Spring 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:

@EnableRedisHttpSession (1)
public class HttpSessionConfig {

        public LettuceConnectionFactory connectionFactory() {
                return new LettuceConnectionFactory(); (2)

        public HttpSessionStrategy httpSessionStrategy() {
                return new HeaderHttpSessionStrategy(); (3)
1 The @EnableRedisHttpSession annotation 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 We customize Spring Session’s HttpSession integration to use HTTP headers to convey the current session information instead of cookies.

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, Spring needs to load our Config class. We provide the configuration in our Spring MvcInitializer as shown below:

protected Class<?>[] getRootConfigClasses() {
    return new Class[] { SecurityConfig.class, HttpSessionConfig.class };

Last we need to ensure that our Servlet Container (i.e. Tomcat) uses our springSessionRepositoryFilter for every request. Fortunately, Spring Session provides a utility class named AbstractHttpSessionApplicationInitializer that makes this extremely easy. Simply extend the class with the default constructor as shown below:

public class Initializer extends AbstractHttpSessionApplicationInitializer {

The name of our class (Initializer) does not matter. What is important is that we extend AbstractHttpSessionApplicationInitializer.

rest Sample Application

Running the rest 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 LettuceConnectionFactory to point to a Redis server.

$ ./gradlew :samples:rest:tomcatRun

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

Exploring the rest Sample Application

Try using the application. Use your favorite REST client to request http://localhost:8080/

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/

Observe that we are prompted for basic authentication. Provide the following information for the username and password:

  • Username user

  • Password password

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/ -u user:password

In the output you will notice the following:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
x-auth-token: 0dc1f6e1-c7f1-41ac-8ce2-32b6b3e57aa3


Specifically, we notice the following things about our response:

  • The HTTP Status is now a 200

  • We have a header with the name of x-auth-token which contains a new session id

  • The current username is displayed

We can now use the x-auth-token to make another request without providing the username and password again. For example, the following outputs the username just as before:

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/ -H "x-auth-token: 0dc1f6e1-c7f1-41ac-8ce2-32b6b3e57aa3"

The only difference is that the session id is not provided in the response headers because we are reusing an existing session.

If we invalidate the session, then the x-auth-token is displayed in the response with an empty value. For example, the following will invalidate our session:

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/logout -H "x-auth-token: 0dc1f6e1-c7f1-41ac-8ce2-32b6b3e57aa3"

You will see in the output that the x-auth-token provides an empty String indicating that the previous session was invalidated.

HTTP/1.1 204 No Content

How does it work?

Spring Security interacts with the standard HttpSession in SecurityContextPersistenceFilter.

Instead of using Tomcat’s HttpSession, Spring Security is now persisting the values in Redis. Spring Session creates a header named x-auth-token in your browser that contains the id of your session.

If you like, you can easily see that the session is created in Redis. First create a session using the following:

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/ -u user:password

In the output you will notice the following:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
x-auth-token: 7e8383a4-082c-4ffe-a4bc-c40fd3363c5e


Now 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

We can now use the x-auth-token to make another request with the session we deleted and observe we are prompted for a authentication. For example, the following returns an HTTP 401:

$ curl -v http://localhost:8080/ -H "x-auth-token: 0dc1f6e1-c7f1-41ac-8ce2-32b6b3e57aa3"