Firstly released in 2004, Spring Framework is among top Java frameworks. Spring 4 was released in December 2013 and its adoption is around 60% according to baledung.com. From this blog post you will learn why you should consider upgrading your applications to Spring 4.
#1 Faster development with Java 8
Java 8, released in 2014, was the biggest update since Java 1.5. There are no doubts you should consider upgrading to Java 8 because:
Spring 4 was the first version of the framework that fully supports Java 8 and if you want to use Spring with Java 8 you definitely need to upgrade.
Creating more compact and cleaner code is easy with Spring 4 and Java 8. For example, many of the Spring’s existing and new interfaces are functional interfaces which can be used in lambda expressions. New Date & Time API is supported in core framework but you can also utilize it in Thymeleaf views or with Spring Data JPA. Another example is the support of java.util.Optional in the framework. For example, you can inject it using @RequestParam, @RequestHeader and @MatrixVariable. Spring also provides out-of-the-box converters for Stream,Charset, Currency, and TimeZone.
#2 Productivity improved
Each subsequent Spring release comes with a bunch of improvements that simplify the development. More and more tasks that needed custom solutions are now part of the framework. For example, in Spring, injection of Java generic types is finally possible. Spring will automatically consider generics as a form of @Qualifier. Introduction of @EventListener and generic events simplify event handling in Spring applications. Spring not only introduced support for JCache (JSR-107) but it also improved its own caching abstraction over time. If you happen to work with JMS, you may expect improvements here too, mainly with regards to the configuration (@EnableJms) and registering endpoints (@JmsListener).
There are many changes in testing infrastructure that allow you to create integration tests much faster. New TestTransaction API to manage transactions programmatically, SQL script execution per-class or per-method, executing tests with JUnit rules instead of JUnit test runner are only few examples of the changes.
#3 Up to date
Spring framework coexists and integrates with many framework and 3rd party libraries. The dependencies are updated so you can work with the most recent ones. Spring integrates well with JEE APIs like JMS 2.1, JPA 2.1, Bean Validation 1.1 or already mentioned JCache. Spring also brought support for binding and conversion of types of javax.money package, from Money and Currency API. It integrates with Gson − an alternative to Jackson − and Google Protocol Buffers data protocol too.
It is also worth mentioning that Spring supports standards like WebSockets, SockJS and HTTP Streaming and Server-Sent Events.
#4 No more JAR hell
Introducing the Spring IO Platform project has a significant impact on the way the dependencies are managed in Spring applications that use Maven or Gradle.
The Spring IO platform provides versions of various Spring projects and their dependencies. In you build a script, you declare your dependencies without having to worry about version numbers.
As a result of some problems with upgrading dependency versions developers were afraid to do so. With the platform the fear is gone. In many cases upgrading all dependency versions supported by the platform may require a change of the platform version only.
#5 Happy developers
Developers love to work with the newest technologies. Upgrading the framework to its newest releases gives them an opportunity to boost their productivity, learn something new and improve their skills. This may also be a way to keep them motivated and prevent them from thinking about stepping out of the legacy project.
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