Spring vs Spring Boot: A Comparison- Italics

As an extension of the Spring Framework, Spring Boot is widely used to make development on Spring faster, more efficient and convenient. In this article, we will look at some of the parameters were using Spring Boot can drastically reduce the time and effort required in application development.

What is Spring?

To explain it simply, Spring is a popular integrated framework that provides all-inclusive infrastructure support to develop Java-based applications. The open-source platform is light-weight, loose-coupled and comes with some crucial features that include Dependency Injection as well as Aspect-Oriented Programming.

Dependency Injection is responsible for bringing out loose coupling whereas Aspect-Oriented programming helps in the implementation of important cross-cutting tasks.

It also comes with a variety of modules that are dedicated to performing different tasks. Some of these are Spring Test, Spring Security, Spring Web, Spring JDBC, Spring AOP, Spring MVC and Spring ORM. 

Each of these modules helps in significantly decreasing the time involved in application development. For instance, boilerplate codes – earlier, Java-based developments required tons of boilerplate code for the simple job of inserting a particular record into the data source. However, now when we use JDBCTemplate, the same task can be accomplished with only some lines of code and some minor configurations. 

Spring Boot

Built on top of Spring, Spring Boot is the module that allowed the elimination of lengthy boilerplate configurations that were otherwise crucial in the set-up of an application.

Spring Boot operates by taking into account an opinionated perspective of the Spring framework to make way for quicker and efficient application development. Autoconfiguration is it’s most useful feature. 

It performs rigorous metrics and health checks, and takes care of externalized configurations. There are automatic configurations enabled for Spring’s smooth functioning. It also has servers embedded to reduce complications in the deployment of applications.

Also Read: Top 7 Exciting Spring Boot Projects & Topics For Beginners

Difference between Spring and Spring Boot

In this section, we will take a close look at the major differences between the Spring framework and Spring Boot.

1. Framework

Spring is open-sourced and lightweight that is suitable for building enterprise applications. Spring Boot, on the other hand, is an extension of the spring framework, suitable for developing REST APIs. Applications in Spring are loosely coupled whereas Spring Boot’ are standalone.

2. HTTP Basic Authentication

Let’s find out how Spring and Spring Boot enable their security configurations i.e., the default HTTP Basic authentication. This indicates that several dependencies and configurations need to be enabled to enable security. 

In the case of Spring, both the standard spring-security-web and spring-security-config dependencies are needed to enable the default HTTP Basic authentication in an application. 

The next step is to enable the @EnableWebSecurity annotation by adding a class that has the WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter:

One must use the in-memory authentication to enable security.

Much like Spring, these dependencies must be included even in case of Spring Boot. However, this can be done by defining only the spring-boot-starter-security dependency which will automatically take care of the rest. 

3. Minimum Dependencies

Spring requires a set number of dependencies in the creation of a web app. These are:

<dependency>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>

    <artifactId>spring-web</artifactId>

    <version>5.2.9.RELEASE</version>

</dependency>

<dependency>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>

    <artifactId>spring-webmvc</artifactId>

    <version>5.2.9.RELEASE</version>

</dependency>

Spring Boot, on the other hand, can get an application working with just one dependency:

<dependency>

    <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>

    <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-web</artifactId>

    <version>2.3.4.RELEASE</version>

</dependency>

There are several more dependencies required during build time  that are added to the final archive by default. Even while testing libraries, Spring adds the following libraries:

  • Mockito
  • Spring Test
  • Hamcrest and
  • JUnit

Spring Boot has a number of starter projects dedicated for various Spring modules. They are equipped with the required libraries needed by each module. 

Therefore, unlike Spring, Spring boot requires only one starter dependency in testing libraries. 

4. Spring Configurations

In this section, we will highlight the configurations both Spring and Spring Boot require to build a web application (JSP).

In the case of Spring, we use the file web.xml or the Initializer class to define the dispatcher servlet, and some other crucial configurations. 

Spring also requires that the annotation @EnableWebMvc be made accessible to the @Configuration class and to declare a view-resolver for resolving the views the controllers will return.

In the case of Spring Boot, the entire code can be replaced by a few properties after adding the web starter. The required configuration is automatically added when the Boot web starter is included. This process is known as auto-configuration:

spring.mvc.view.prefix=/WEB-INF/jsp/

spring.mvc.view.suffix=.jsp

In simple words, Spring Boot takes an opinionated view of the dependencies, configurations and beans involved, and adds properties to enable all of these automatically. 

However, in the event that you would like to go ahead with your custom configurations, you can override Spring Boot so it does not interfere.

5. Bootstrapping

Servlet is what distinguishes application bootstrapping in Spring and Spring Boot. 

The web.xml or SpringServletContainerInitializer are used as the bootstrap entry point in case of Spring. Whereas, Spring Boot can bootstrap an application with just Servlet 3.

6. Deployment

Both Spring and Spring Boot are similar in that they support technologies like Maven and Gradle support that are most commonly used in packaging. However,  the process of deployment is different in both frameworks.

For instance, the Spring Boot Maven Plugin provides Spring Boot support in Maven. It also allows packaging executable jar or war archives and running an application “in-place”.

When it comes to deployment, Spring Boot has several advantages over Spring:

  • There is support for embedded containers
  • Using the java -jar command, jars can be run independently. 
  • Conflicts in jar can be avoided by removing dependencies that lead to it.  
  • You can define active profiles 
  • The Spring Boot Maven Plugin supports executable jar or war archives and allows you to run an application “in-place”
  • Simplified integration tests through random port generation

Advantages of Spring Boot over Spring

  1. There are default configurations that contribute to faster application bootstrapping
  2. Spring Boot takes up an opinionated view of Spring’s ‘starter’ dependencies for simpler and efficient build and app configuration
  3. There are no issues when it comes to versions not matching since there are plenty of starter projects that allow for easy integration. Some of these include spring-boot-starter-web, spring-boot-starter-data-jpa, spring-boot-starter-test, spring-boot-starter-security, spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf. 
  4. Embedded servers like tomcat or jetty make execution easier as compared to Spring that needs explicit servers to run an application
  5. You avoid boilerplate code which reduces time and increases productivity. Spring applications require too many lines of code
  6. Spring Boot doesn’t need a deployment descriptor like Spring

Conclusion

Spring Boot includes all the features of the conventional Spring and yet makes developing applications much easier. Since all Spring Boot properties are auto-configured,  you can get an application up and running in much less time as compared to Spring. 

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