Spring Boot vs Spring MVC: How do They Compare?

January 11th, 2021 • By Rollbar Editorial Team

It’s common to confuse Spring Boot and Spring MVC. They both, after all, include the word “Spring” and are used with the Spring Framework. However, both accomplish different purposes and can be used alongside each other, rather than one being better than the other. We unravel and demystify your frequently asked questions so you can grasp when to use which and reduce the development time of your web application.

What Is Spring Boot?

Spring Boot is an extension of the Spring framework that allows developers to shorten the process needed to build a web application by using auto-configuration. You can create a standalone application that uses Java and get it up and running without needing to install it onto a separate web server. Use Spring Boot anytime you need a production-ready application quickly.

What Is Spring MVC?

Spring MVC is a library within the Spring framework that simplifies handling HTTP requests and responses. It’s built on the Servlet API and is an essential component of the Spring Framework. The MVC stands for Model-View-Controller, which is its core function, allowing separation of the business logic, presentation logic, and navigation logic. Use Spring MVC’s ready-made components to build fully functional Java web applications.

Difference Between Spring MVC and Spring Boot

While Spring MVC is an essential framework that exists within Spring as a whole, Spring Boot is an optional module that is used to streamline the development process, which can include integrating Spring MVC during the build process. Without Spring Boot, Spring MVC takes more time to use and requires manual configuration and separate deployment descriptors.

How Spring MVC Works

Spring MVC uses three components to layout and design web applications, as its name implies: model, view, and controller. The model component includes the data and structure of the application and plays a role in setting the rules and logic the application uses. The view component deals with the UI logic and produces an HTML output for the browser. The controller then translates and validates the input and passes it to the model or view for rendering. Spring MVC also uses a Front Controller as a single point of entry for a client request and forwards the request to other controllers in the application for actual processing.

How Spring Boot Works

To use Spring Boot, a good place to start is the Spring Initializer, which allows you to quickly pull up any dependencies and to fill in the project metadata. The next step is to press Generate, which creates a zip folder that’s downloaded onto your computer. This folder is then loaded to your IDE with specific code added. Read this guide for a step-by-step explanation. Spring Boot auto-configures the dependencies added onto the Initializer without the need to enter code for each individual dependency. There are several dependencies that are already packaged into the Spring Boot Starter Web, including Spring MVC.

Why Use Spring Boot

Whether you’re new or experienced, Spring Boot is great makes your life easier when building a new application. Easily setup and configure your application and add dependencies that integrate other databases and services all at once.

Why Use Spring MVC

In situations where more flexibility is needed, Spring MVC is ideal as it can be configured to your specific needs. This is opposed to Spring Boot, which relies on auto-configuration that is very opinionated in nature. In general, MVCs are used to offer the developer full HTML control, allow easy testing, generate SEO-friendly URL routing, and to integrate extensions into the framework. Furthermore, Spring MVC allows you to avoid writing utility code to support your web application as it makes handling HTTP requests and responses easier.

Spring Boot Benefits

  • There are many benefits to using Spring Boot:
  • Time saved and less effort wasted when creating applications by removing the need to use XML and annotation configuration
  • Simplifies the process of testing Java-based apps
  • Support for monitoring, graphing, and alerting 
  • Large community of Spring Boot users, which opens many types of support and resources

Spring MVC Benefits

Spring MVC shines when it comes to:

  • Promoting separation of concerns - it's great way to develop modular web applications
  • Abstracts away the tedious and boilerplate tasks of handling HTTP requests
  • Excellent support for developing RESTful web services

Both Spring Boot and Spring MVC bring unique advantages yet have the same goal of faster, more efficient development. Consider using them together for your web application.

Rollbar is a great way to track errors occurring in production. For each deployment, it will tell you which errors have occurred and which code changes were responsible. This can dramatically speed up your troubleshooting time, which will make your team happier and your customers happier too. Rollbar's SDK for Spring makes it easy to integrate with the Spring framework.

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