This guide walks you through the process of creating a "hello world" web site with Spring.

What you’ll build

You’ll build a service that will accept HTTP GET requests at:

http://localhost:8080/greeting

and respond with a web page displaying a greeting:

"Hello, World!"

You can customize the greeting with an optional name parameter in the query string:

http://localhost:8080/greeting?name=User

The name parameter value overrides the default value of "World" and is reflected in the response:

"Hello, User!"

What you’ll need

How to complete this guide

Like most Spring Getting Started guides, you can start from scratch and complete each step, or you can bypass basic setup steps that are already familiar to you. Either way, you end up with working code.

To start from scratch, move on to Build with Gradle.

To skip the basics, do the following:

When you’re finished, you can check your results against the code in gs-serving-web-content/complete.

Build with Gradle

Build with Gradle

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Gradle and Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with either, refer to Building Java Projects with Gradle or Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

Create a Gradle build file

build.gradle

buildscript {
    repositories {
        maven { url "http://repo.spring.io/libs-release" }
        mavenLocal()
        mavenCentral()
    }
    dependencies {
        classpath("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-gradle-plugin:1.1.8.RELEASE")
    }
}

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'eclipse'
apply plugin: 'idea'
apply plugin: 'spring-boot'

jar {
    baseName = 'gs-serving-web-content'
    version =  '0.1.0'
}

repositories {
    mavenLocal()
    mavenCentral()
    maven { url "http://repo.spring.io/libs-release" }
}

dependencies {
    compile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf")
    testCompile("junit:junit")
}

task wrapper(type: Wrapper) {
    gradleVersion = '1.11'
}

The Spring Boot gradle plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with Maven

Build with Maven

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with Maven, refer to Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

pom.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 http://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
    <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
    <artifactId>gs-serving-web-content</artifactId>
    <version>0.1.0</version>

    <parent>
        <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
        <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-parent</artifactId>
        <version>1.1.8.RELEASE</version>
    </parent>

    <dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-thymeleaf</artifactId>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>

    <properties>
        <start-class>hello.Application</start-class>
    </properties>

    <build>
        <plugins>
            <plugin>
                <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
                <artifactId>spring-boot-maven-plugin</artifactId>
            </plugin>
        </plugins>
    </build>

    <repositories>
        <repository>
            <id>spring-milestone</id>
            <url>http://repo.spring.io/libs-release</url>
        </repository>
    </repositories>

    <pluginRepositories>
        <pluginRepository>
            <id>spring-milestone</id>
            <url>http://repo.spring.io/libs-release</url>
        </pluginRepository>
    </pluginRepositories>

</project>

The Spring Boot Maven plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with Spring Tool Suite

Build with Spring Tool Suite

If you have Spring Tool Suite, then you can simply import this guide directly.

Create a web controller

In Spring’s approach to building web sites, HTTP requests are handled by a controller. You can easily identify these requests by the @Controller annotation. In the following example, the GreetingController handles GET requests for /greeting by returning the name of a View, in this case, "greeting". A View is responsible for rendering the HTML content:

src/main/java/hello/GreetingController.java

package hello;

import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.ui.Model;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestParam;

@Controller
public class GreetingController {

    @RequestMapping("/greeting")
    public String greeting(@RequestParam(value="name", required=false, defaultValue="World") String name, Model model) {
        model.addAttribute("name", name);
        return "greeting";
    }

}

This controller is concise and simple, but there’s plenty going on. Let’s break it down step by step.

The @RequestMapping annotation ensures that HTTP requests to /greeting are mapped to the greeting() method.

The above example does not specify GET vs. PUT, POST, and so forth, because @RequestMapping maps all HTTP operations by default. Use @RequestMapping(method=GET) to narrow this mapping.

@RequestParam binds the value of the query String parameter name into the name parameter of the greeting() method. This query String parameter is not required; if it is absent in the request, the defaultValue of "World" is used. The value of the name parameter is added to a Model object, ultimately making it accessible to the view template.

The implementation of the method body relies on a view technology, in this case Thymeleaf, to perform server-side rendering of the HTML. Thymeleaf parses the greeting.html template below and evaluates the th:text expression to render the value of the ${name} parameter that was set in the controller.

src/main/resources/templates/greeting.html

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html xmlns:th="http://www.thymeleaf.org">
<head>
    <title>Getting Started: Serving Web Content</title>
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
</head>
<body>
    <p th:text="'Hello, ' + ${name} + '!'" />
</body>
</html>

Make the application executable

Although it is possible to package this service as a traditional WAR file for deployment to an external application server, the simpler approach demonstrated below creates a standalone application. You package everything in a single, executable JAR file, driven by a good old Java main() method. Along the way, you use Spring’s support for embedding the Tomcat servlet container as the HTTP runtime, instead of deploying to an external instance.

src/main/java/hello/Application.java

package hello;

import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.EnableAutoConfiguration;
import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.ComponentScan;

@ComponentScan
@EnableAutoConfiguration
public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);
    }

}

The main() method defers to the SpringApplication helper class, providing Application.class as an argument to its run() method. This tells Spring to read the annotation metadata from Application and to manage it as a component in the Spring application context.

The @ComponentScan annotation tells Spring to search recursively through the hello package and its children for classes marked directly or indirectly with Spring’s @Component annotation. This directive ensures that Spring finds and registers the GreetingController, because it is marked with @Controller, which in turn is a kind of @Component annotation.

The @EnableAutoConfiguration annotation switches on reasonable default behaviors based on the content of your classpath. For example, because the application depends on the embeddable version of Tomcat (tomcat-embed-core.jar), a Tomcat server is set up and configured with reasonable defaults on your behalf. And because the application also depends on Spring MVC (spring-webmvc.jar), a Spring MVC DispatcherServlet is configured and registered for you — no web.xml necessary! Auto-configuration is a powerful, flexible mechanism. See the API documentation for further details.

Build an executable JAR

If you are using Gradle, you can run the application using ./gradlew bootRun.

You can build a single executable JAR file that contains all the necessary dependencies, classes, and resources. This makes it easy to ship, version, and deploy the service as an application throughout the development lifecycle, across different environments, and so forth.

./gradlew build

Then you can run the JAR file:

java -jar build/libs/gs-serving-web-content-0.1.0.jar

If you are using Maven, you can run the application using mvn spring-boot:run. Or you can build the JAR file with mvn clean package and run the JAR by typing:

java -jar target/gs-serving-web-content-0.1.0.jar
The procedure above will create a runnable JAR. You can also opt to build a classic WAR file instead.

Logging output is displayed. The service should be up and running within a few seconds.

Test the service

Now that the web site is running, visit http://localhost:8080/greeting, where you see:

"Hello, World!"

Provide a name query string parameter with http://localhost:8080/greeting?name=User. Notice how the message changes from "Hello, World!" to "Hello, User!":

"Hello, User!"

This change demonstrates that the @RequestParam arrangement in GreetingController is working as expected. The name parameter has been given a default value of "World", but can always be explicitly overridden through the query string.

Summary

Congratulations! You have just developed a web page using Spring.