Spring is a popular framework to develop java application for enterprise with support to Groovy and Kotlin as alternative language.

Spring and Spring Boot

The Spring Framework was made to remove the boilerplate necessary to build an application, and have some nice features like dependency injection and templates that reduce the amount of lines of code necessary to get started.

Spring Boot on the other hand is an extension of the spring framework which removes the configurations required for setting up a Spring application.

Spring Boot : eliminating the boilerplate’s configuration of a framework (Spring) that removes the boilerplate’s code required for your application. 😅

What is Boilerplate?

Boilerplate code refers to code that needs to be added in multiple application with little to no alteration. “Verbose” language needs a lot of so-called boilerplate to add a minor functionality.

It comes from the printing industry where boilerplate referred to sturdy printing plate that looked issued from the metal of a boiler.

On the side of the code, I see it in a kitchen where you want to make pasta. 🍜 The boilerplate (spring in this case) would bring the stove to do so ♨️… but you would still need to add the pan 🍳, water 💧 and type of pasta 👩‍🍳. Springboot is this case would be spring (the stove) which comes with already prepared pans and water (the boot part of it → ready to start).

You only need to add the pasta which would be your feature in this comparison. 😋

Springboot features

From baeldung’s spring boot article, Here are just a few of the features in Spring Boot:

  • Opinionated ‘starter’ dependencies to simplify build and application configuration
  • Embedded server to avoid complexity in application deployment
  • Metrics, Health check, and externalized configuration
  • Automatic config for Spring functionality – whenever possible

Spring Boot removes most of the code you need to get started, so that you can actually start coding features faster.

Getting started

As spring boot is an extension of spring, it has all of the dependencies you might need already packed together. With some of them that might no be necessary in Kotlin or for your specific project, you can manage that in your build.gradle.kts.

I have let what’s related to spring boot:

plugins {
    id("org.springframework.boot") version "2.2.7.RELEASE"
    id("io.spring.dependency-management") version "1.0.7.RELEASE"

dependencies {
    compile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter") {
        exclude(module = "spring-aop") // Excude what you don't need, for example spring Aspect-Oriented Programming module
    testCompile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-test") // Comes with Junit4, Mockito, Hamcrest

You can see the spring plugins there in your gradle file that will automatically manage will version of each spring dependency you need in order for the whole to work.


Because spring is using annotation that can look like magic. Let’s go through the main ones with Kotlin examples. I won’t go in too much details, just to have a high level overview.


The Beans in spring are what your application is based upon, it’s backbone. They are managed by the Spring IoC (Inversion of Control) Container, the one that is doing all the dependency injection which is at the base of the “spring magic”.

By magic, it’s because you define the object dependencies without creating them and let the construction of those dependencies be made by spring (ie the Spring IoC container) on start up. (You might have errors with Application Context, etc …)

Basically a Bean is an object that is going to be instantiated, assembled and managed by spring.

import org.springframework.context.annotation.Bean
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Configuration
import org.springframework.web.client.RestTemplate

class Config {
    fun restTemplate() = RestTemplate()

On this basic example, you can see a restTemplate Bean in a @Configuration class where the configuration annotation, means that it’s a configuration class which may contain bean definitions.


Difference with Bean

Since everything is Bean in spring, it can be hard to see what difference it makes to use those different annotations. From what I see the main differences between Bean and Component are:

  • Component
    • Used on Classes
    • Enable scanning and automatic wiring to create the object
    • one-to-one mapping between the annotated class and the Bean (coupled)
  • Bean
    • Used on a method
    • Object instantiation is handled within the method and can be decoupled (one-to-many, one bean multiple possible objects)
    • Returns an explicit single object and marked as a Bean for Spring


By adding a @Component to a class we create a specialized Bean (slightly different from @Bean). To use a bean, or a component in another spring component we will need to use the @Autowired annotation. Let’s take a look at this example with the restTemplate field:

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired
import org.springframework.stereotype.Component

internal class MyComponent {

    private lateinit var restTemplate: RestTemplate
    fun doStuff() = "doing stuff"

Basically at the component creation, spring which will look for a Bean for restTemplate, and then inject it into our Component. The @Autowired annotation marks a constructor, field, or setter method to be autowired by Spring dependency injection.

It will use reflection in order to look for annotated field and then instantiate them at run time. Thus, the lateinit var in Kotlin, you might need in some case add kotlin-reflect to your gradle file, if you get reflection dependency exception.

Component specification @Service, @Controller

To better separate and differentiate the Bean and parts of the code, you can use specified Component annotation. For example @Service which represents also a Component is one of them. It describes an object that’s holding the business logic and is used the same way as @Component is used.

Then you have @Controller which indicates that the class is a “Controller”. It’s mostly known by its own specified version the @RestController which is used to simplify the implementation Rest API applications.

import org.springframework.http.HttpStatus
import org.springframework.http.ResponseEntity
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.*

internal class Endpoints {

    private lateinit var myComponent: MyComponent

    @GetMapping(value = ["/example"])
    internal fun getExample() = ResponseEntity(myComponent.doStruff(), HttpStatus.ACCEPTED)

You can see that the @RestController can also @Autowire any Bean (from any Bean, Component, … annotation).


The @Value is a marvelous tool to populate dynamically properties from .properties or .yml file directly to your application.

Usually used in @Configuration classes, you may define them as follows:

lateinit var myValue: String

You can set a default value if it is not found using the : (e.g. “default” is the default value here), otherwise it will take the property value. You can set up a yaml file looking like this in our case:

  value: "hello"

The value “hello” will be picked up and placed into myValue.


Create and run your application with the @SpringBootApplication. Here is how you would do it in Kotlin. And don’t forget that main method in Kotlin outside of class are to be called “BootStrapApplicationKt” in case you need to package it into an application and you need your

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication

class BootStrapApplication

fun main(args: Array<String>) {
    SpringApplication.run(BootStrapApplication::class.java, *args)

The SpringBootApplication annotation is what enables Spring Boot auto configuration and component scanning. So that’s for the Spring IoC Container / Dependency injection to get in play load the application context, etc … The SpringApplication.run(...) method is a convenient way to bootstrap the Spring application that is started from the main() method.

In the end the final tips, is when you have a doubt, you can always look into Spring javadoc to better understand what it does. (command, click on the word in IntelliJ).