Spring Framework 4.1 Adds Major New Features

Pivotal Software Inc. has announced a new release of the Spring Framework. Version 4.1 of the open source application framework for enterprise Java comes with new messaging, caching and Web capabilities, along with "a lot of enhancements in the details," the company said.

Version 4.1 of the framework went to general availability after "an intense release candidate phase" that was launched in July, said Juergen Hoeller, Spring Framework project lead, in a blog post. Hoeller is co-founder of the Spring Framework project and has been serving as the project lead and release manager of the core framework since 2003. With this release Hoeller is recommending an early upgrade because the 4.1 line now supersedes the 4.0 line as the primary maintenance branch of the evolving framework. The company is also providing an intermediate step on that upgrade path by co-releasing Spring Framework 4.0.7 along with version 4.1.

Hoeller answered a question about the upgrade path on his blog this way: "A 4.1 upgrade should be no more than a change of the Spring module versions in your POMs [Project Object Models] with no breaking changes, as long as the minimum versions of third-party dependencies (if needed) are met. Spring Framework 4.1 should be as simple to upgrade to as 4.0.7."

Also, this release doen't raise the fundamental system requirements of last year's big 4.0 release, the company said. (Those requirements: Java 6 and up, Servlet 2.5 and up, and JPA 2.0 and up.) And so Spring Framework 4.1 also runs on WebSphere 7.

The major new features in this release include:

  • Annotated JMS listener methods
  • Comprehensive support for JCache (JSR-107) annotations
  • Flexible resolution and transformation of static Web resources
  • MVC views: declarative resolution, Groovy markup templates, Jackson's JsonView
  • WebSocket refinements: WebSocket scope, SockJS client support, WebSocket stats
  • Performance: SpEL compiler mode, concurrency fine-tuning across the container (SpEL is the Spring Expression Language)

The list of those enhanced details includes, among other things:

  • Direct field binding support with auto-growing for nested fields
  • Java 8 Optional for injection points and MVC handler parameters
  • Support for the standard @Priority annotation for dependency ordering and selection
  • Annotated @Lookup methods with support for provided constructor arguments
  • Declarative SQL scripts and programmatic transactions in the TestContext framework
  • Enhanced Hibernate JPA setup: isolation levels, discovery of managed packages

Spring continues to be a strong brand among Java developers, said IDC analyst Al Hilwa in an earlier interview, and it's one of the most popular Java application frameworks on the market today. Spring is a layered Java/J2EE framework based on code published in Rod Johnson's book, "Expert One-on-One Java EE Design and Development" (Wrox Press, October 2002). Johnson also wrote the first version of the framework and co-founded SpringSource, the company that supported it commercially.

Pivotal announced the Spring Framework 4.0 release last December. It was the first major update of the framework since 2009, and the first big announcement from Pivotal, which had been spun off from EMC Corp. in 2012 to manage products from several divisions, including the Spring line of Java products. That release also marked the first public step in that organization's larger mission to use Spring as a key component of the new Spring IO platform.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].