Spring Boot: Choosing Right Tools, Version & Programming Languages To Get Started
05 Aug

Spring Boot: Choosing Right Tools, Version & Programming Languages To Get Started

Mahipal Nehra

Spring Boot is a popular framework for developing scalable web applications. Spring Boot is an opinionated, open-source, Java-based framework developed by Pivotal and used for creating production-grade, standalone applications that developers can just run. Spring boot provides a simple and efficient way to set up, build, and deploy web applications. It adds the Rapid Application Development (RAD) feature to the Spring framework that requires minimal configuration to run an app.

Although creating web apps with Spring Boot is relatively easy, choosing the right tools, programming languages, and versions can be tricky sometimes.

So in this blog, we will cover the basics of Spring Boot along with the IDEs, versions, tools, and languages you should be familiar with before getting started with Spring Boot app development.

An Overview of Spring Boot

As a combination of the Spring framework and Embedded Beans, Spring Boot does not require XML configuration to build a web app, reducing the efforts of developers.

Spring boot offers a wide range of benefits for web app developers, including

  • Embedded Servers: Spring has pre-built Jetty, Tomcat, and Undertow application servers. So, Spring Boot does not require any server installation, making fast and efficient deployment.

  • Auto-Configuration: Third-party frameworks, as well as Spring, are automatically configured in Spring Boot.

  • Standalone Application: Spring Boot can easily create a jar for the application to run with no deployment customization.

  • Starter Dependencies: Spring Boot provides ‘starter’ dependencies that simplify configurations and efficiently manage the project object model (POM).

  • Production-Ready Features: Spring Boot has several features that help manage and monitor the application after deploying it to production. Using HTTP endpoints with Secure Shell, Java Management Extensions (JMX) API, or Telnet, you can audit and manage the metrics and health of the web application.

Spring Boot works in layer architecture that includes:

  • Presentation Layer: The presentation layer is the top layer consisting of views/front-end of the web application. It handles HTTP requests, converts JSON parameters into objects (vice versa), authenticates requests, and sends them back to the business layer.

  • Data Access Layer: This layer consists of CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) operations on the database.

  • Service Layer: As the name suggests, a service layer includes service classes that use the services offered by the data access layer.

  • Integration Layer: The integration layer consists of different web services available on the internet and leverages XML messaging.

Another thing you should know about the Spring boot framework is that it provides a feature of dependency injection, allowing objects to define their dependencies that will be injected by Spring Container later. Dependency injections let developers build loosely coupled, modular applications, ideal for distributed applications networks and microservices.

Read: What is Custom Software Development?

Within the Spring Boot framework comes built-in support required by a web app to perform specific tasks, including validation, data binding, exception handling, type conversion, event management, resource allocation, and many more. Spring boot also has technologies like Java Web Services, Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), Remote Method Invocation (RMI), and others to create cross-platform Java EE web applications. These web apps run in any production environment regardless of the operating system.

Now that we know the basics about Spring Boot, we can move on to the tools, languages, and versions that will be ideal for your future projects.

Maven or Gradle?

To choose between Maven or Gradle, you first need to understand what they are and what makes them different from each other.

Maven:

Apache Maven is one of the popular choices for developers of automation systems that have been around for two decades. Maven is a Yiddish word that refers to the accumulator of knowledge. The core aim while developing Maven was to simplify the Jakarta Turbine’s build processes. It helps developers to understand the entire development state in the shortest time by providing a uniform build system, making the build process easy, providing quality information about the project, and empowering better practices for project development.

Read: How to Build Microservices in Java

Let’s create a pom.xml file that will include all the plugins and dependencies required for the maven project.

<?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 https://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
<modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>
<parent>
<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-parent</artifactId>
<version>2.6.10</version>
<relativePath/> <!-- lookup parent from repository -->
</parent>
<groupId>com.trial</groupId>
<artifactId>trial</artifactId>
<version>0.0.1-SNAPSHOT</version>
<name>demo</name>
<description>Spring Boot Trial project</description>
<properties>
<java.version>17</java.version>
</properties>
<dependencies>
<dependency>
<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-data-jpa</artifactId>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-web</artifactId>
</dependency>

<dependency>
<groupId>org.projectlombok</groupId>
<artifactId>lombok</artifactId>
<optional>true</optional>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
<artifactId>spring-boot-starter-test</artifactId>
<scope>test</scope>
</dependency>
</dependencies>

<build>
<plugins>
<plugin>
<groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
<artifactId>spring-boot-maven-plugin</artifactId>
<configuration>
<excludes>
<exclude>
<groupId>org.projectlombok</groupId>
<artifactId>lombok</artifactId>
</exclude>
</excludes>
</configuration>
</plugin>
</plugins>
</build>

</project>

While executing the Maven Command, developers can specify a “phase” to complete. It will complete any task, including removing prior output, compiling, running, or packaging the application.

Maven creates and anticipates a certain structure of the project by convention.

However, if somehow the conventions or tightly structured methods of the Maven project become highly complicated and constrictive, you can go for Gradle.

Gradle:

Gradle is another build automation tool like Maven that supports multiple programming languages software developments. Using Domain-Specific Languages (DSL), Gradle creates a flexible and minimal build.gradle file as follows:

plugins {
id 'org.springframework.boot' version '2.4.0'
id 'io.spring.dependency-management' version '1.0.10.RELEASE'
id 'java'
}
group = 'com.trial
version = '0.0.1-SNAPSHOT'
Maven or Gradle? | 9
sourceCompatibility = '17'
repositories {
mavenCentral()
}
dependencies {
implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter'
testImplementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-test'
}
test {
useJUnitPlatform()
}

Gradle also has a DSL (domain-specific language) for describing builts in one of the two programming languages, i.eGroovy and Kotlin. Gradle also has features like Java incremental classes compilation, Java compiles avoidance, and a dedicated daemon for product compilation, reducing the build waiting time.

Read: Best Practices & Tools for DevOps Testing

Before you decide whether you want to go for Maven or Gradle, it is important to try each of them and find the ideal one for your project.

Java or Kotlin

Both Java and Kotlin are popular for Java Virtual Machine (JVM). But, it can be confusing to choose the one for your project. To help you out, we will look at each and decide which one might be better for you.

Java:

Java is a class-based, object-oriented, high-level programming language that has been around for more than two decades. It has been designed to have as few dependencies in the software as possible. It’s anything but inactive, though. Since the year 2017, Java has been on regular updates every 6 months, improving its features continuously and making it more vibrant than ever.

Read: Static Code Analysis Tools For Java

Java creates a strong foundation of Spring codebase and therefore is the significant choice for developing Spring Boot applications. With Java’s extensive API libraries, you can build cloud-native, complex, and middle-tier applications efficiently. Besides, Java is an easy-to-use language, i.e., you can easily write, compile, run, debug, and maintain. It also enables developers to create reusable code and modular programs.

Read: Data-Oriented Programming in Java

Kotlin:

In comparison to Java, Kotlin is new in the market. Kotlin is a statically typed, cross-platform, general-purpose programming language. It was designed to work with Java. Moreover, its JVM version of the standard library depends on the Java class library but the type interface in Kotlin allows the syntax to be more concise.

The core aim of Kotlin was to fulfill the gaps perceived in the usability of Java. From the initial stage, it was built to be safe, concise, interoperable, and tool-friendly, making Kotlin a fluent language to work with.

Kotlin’s ability to define your language within a language makes it easier to create APIs and if we combine this feature with the concision of Kotlin, developing Spring Boot applications can become shorter and more readable than Java.

Read: Best Practices for API Security

The most incredible part between Java and Kotlin is that you don’t have to choose. Moreover, Kotlin and Java compile to the same bytecode output. So you can create Spring projects using both Kotlin and source files of Java and call compilers for both. Therefore, you can choose the one that makes more sense to you even in the same project.

Choose Spring Boot Version

It is essential to choose the latest version of spring boot at the time of application development. However, there are some narrow and temporary exceptions where you can use older versions of Spring Boot. These exceptions are

  • If you are using older versions of Spring Boot while upgrading, deploying, and retesting the application in a way where you somehow haven’t reached the older version yet.

  • If you want to use features in a milestone, snapshot, or release candidate pre-general availability version and are willing to take risks inherited with code that is not yet ready for production use.

  • If you are running an older version of Spring Boot but there is a bug or conflict that has been reported to Spring Team and they asked you to wait for an update.

Integrated Development Environment

No matter which language or build automation tool you are using to build the Spring Boot project, you will need an integrated development environment (IDE) for writing code to make the software useful.

Read: Web Application Design Patterns

Although there are a plethora of IDEs in the market, the top three IDEs that we will discuss include

  • IntelliJ IDEA

Developed by JetBrains using JAR-based languages like Java, Groovy, and Kotlin. IntelliJ IDEA is among the top three Java IDEs. It is available as Apache 2 licensed community edition and a proprietary commercial one that you can choose from.

With intelligent coding assistance and minimal design, IntelliJ IDEA makes software development productivity. It provides instant and relevant code suggestions, on-the-fly code analysis, and tools for refactoring.

  • Apache NetBeans

NetBeans is an Apache project that aims to offer rock-solid web app development by addressing developers and business needs. Rather than being a mere text editor, NetBeans highlights the code both semantically and syntactically. It also allows you to refactor the source code with its in-built tools.

NetBeans is platform-independent and provides wizards, editors, and templates to easily develop web applications using different programming languages. It is open source and has incredible version control for a better development experience.

  • Eclipse

Eclipse is the most popular open source IDE that has been written in Java and C languages. Although it is primarily used to develop Java applications, it can be used with several programming languages like C, C++, C#, Erlang, JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Python, Rust, Groovy, Scala, etc.

Eclipse majorly includes a development environment and a plug-in system that helps add new functionalities and features to the IDE. It offers an incredible visual code debugging tool, has an easy-to-use interface, and supports project development frameworks for source navigation and toolchains.

Apart from these three IDEs, you can also go for Atom, Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, and more to create a Spring Boot application. But before you make any choice, we will suggest that you give each one of them a try once. This will help you find the one that suits your requirements the most.

Conclusion

So that was all about the tools, languages, versions, and IDEs that you can leverage while developing a Spring Boot application for your business. We hope it has provided you with basic knowledge of Maven, Gradle, Java, Kotlin, Atom, VSCode, IntelliJ, Eclipse, and NetBeans.

Read: Data Pipeline Architecture?

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Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 05 Aug, 2022 Web