August 16, 2023

Spring Boot vs. Spring MVC: Everything You Need to Know

Enterprise Development

Java frameworks are the skeleton around which all Java code is written. In the not-so-distant past, there were hundreds of Java frameworks. Over time, that number has pared down to dozens of Java frameworks.Of these, two Java frameworks stand far above the rest: Spring Boot and Spring MVC.  

Spoiler alert: This isn’t an either/or decision.  

Read on to learn about the differences between Spring Boot and Spring MVC, the use cases for each Java framework, and why many Java developers use a combination of frameworks depending on application. Topics include: 

What Is Spring MVC?

There are dozens of Spring frameworks, but Spring MVC is by far the most popular for creating web applications. MVC stands for model-viewer-controller. These components can be further defined as: 

  • Model: Displays the application data you’re developing 
  • View: Presents the data and handles user interaction  
  • Controller: How the model and view communicate with one another 

The model-viewer-controller (MVC) framework pattern separates different aspects of the application (e.g., input logic, business logic, and UI logic). In short, Spring MVC creates the dots needed for large, enterprise applications and then connects those dots.  

The Spring MVC framework is deeply customizable, but it also requires significant manual configuration by an experienced architect to get up and running. Most Java development shops will link Spring MVC for the backend and use a different UI for the application front end.  

From writing simple API applications over microservices to creating large, monolithic applications with complex business logic, Spring MVC can be used almost anywhere. That said, it’s most popular for large business applications, which also tend to have longer restart and redeploy times. With JRebel, you can skip rebuilds and redeploys and view code changes instantly while maintaining application state.  

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What Is Spring Boot?

Spring Boot is geared towards a microservices environment. It’s a “convention over configuration” environment that’s designed for creating stand-alone, production-grade applications.  

These features make Spring Boot the premier framework in the Java community and is the most commonly used framework among JRebel users. It is designed to be spun up quickly and used “out of the box” with minimal configuration. This is in contrast to Spring MVC, which requires significant configuration. 

It’s also designed specifically for microservice environments. Microservices parse an application into small, independent pieces. This architecture makes it easier for developers to build and manage a large application without disrupting other mission-critical workloads.  

📚 Further Reading: When to Use Microservices in Java  

Spring Boot isn’t the end all be all when it comes to microservices-focused Java frameworks, however. This blog post breaks down how Spring Boot compares to Quarkus, Micronaut, Node.js, Django, and Vert.x 

Examining Other Java Frameworks

As previously mentioned, there are dozens of Java frameworks, but Spring Boot and Spring MVC are by far the most popular when it comes to web development. Here are some other Java frameworks that are popular for specific applications: 

Vaadin 

Vaadin is anopen source framework for building web applications in Java. It includes a large library of UI frameworks and can be useful for building applications where user experience is paramount.  

Grails 

Grails is designed to be a high-productivity Java Framework. It is based on the Apache Groovy language and is an open source framework for the JVM built on top of Spring Boot.  

Apache Struts 

Apache Struts is an open source alternative to Spring MVC. One key difference between these Java frameworks is that Apache Struts has more dependencies and is therefore more closely coupled. Apache Struts also has a history of security issues so users should pay attention for updates.  

When to Use Spring MVC and Spring Boot Together 

Depending on your application type and use case, Spring MVC and Spring Boot both have advantages and disadvantages. The good news for Java developers is that it’s not an either/or decision. In many cases, it makes sense for developers to use both frameworks on different parts of the application.  

Whether your Java development shop uses Spring Boot, Spring MVC, Grails, Apache Struts, Vaadin, another framework, or a combination thereof, restarts and redeploys can still provide a major hurdle to your Java development workflow. With JRebel, Java developers can view code changes instantly using any combination of frameworks and in all popular Java IDEs.  

Code faster in any combination of Java frameworks and IDEs with JRebel.

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