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1. Overview

We can leverage the capabilities of Spring DI engine using the annotations in the org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation and org.springframework.context.annotation packages.

We often call these “Spring core annotations” and we’ll review them in this tutorial.

2. DI-Related Annotations

2.1. @Autowired

We can use the @Autowired to mark a dependency which Spring is going to resolve and inject. We can use this annotation with a constructor, setter, or field injection.

Constructor injection:

class Car {
    Engine engine;

    @Autowired
    Car(Engine engine) {
        this.engine = engine;
    }
}

Setter injection:

class Car {
    Engine engine;

    @Autowired
    void setEngine(Engine engine) {
        this.engine = engine;
    }
}

Field injection:

class Car {
    @Autowired
    Engine engine;
}

@Autowired has a boolean argument called required with a default value of true. It tunes Spring’s behavior when it doesn’t find a suitable bean to wire. When true, an exception is thrown, otherwise, nothing is wired.

Note, that if we use constructor injection, all constructor arguments are mandatory.

Starting with version 4.3, we don’t need to annotate constructors with @Autowired explicitly unless we declare at least two constructors.

For more details visit our articles about @Autowired and constructor injection.

2.2. @Bean

@Bean marks a factory method which instantiates a Spring bean:

@Bean
Engine engine() {
    return new Engine();
}

Spring calls these methods when a new instance of the return type is required.

The resulting bean has the same name as the factory method. If we want to name it differently, we can do so with the name or the value arguments of this annotation (the argument value is an alias for the argument name):

@Bean("engine")
Engine getEngine() {
    return new Engine();
}

Note, that all methods annotated with @Bean must be in @Configuration classes.

2.3. @Qualifier

We use @Qualifier along with @Autowired to provide the bean id or bean name we want to use in ambiguous situations.

For example, the following two beans implement the same interface:

class Bike implements Vehicle {}

class Car implements Vehicle {}

If Spring needs to inject a Vehicle bean, it ends up with multiple matching definitions. In such cases, we can provide a bean’s name explicitly using the @Qualifier annotation.

Using constructor injection:

@Autowired
Biker(@Qualifier("bike") Vehicle vehicle) {
    this.vehicle = vehicle;
}

Using setter injection:

@Autowired
void setVehicle(@Qualifier("bike") Vehicle vehicle) {
    this.vehicle = vehicle;
}

Alternatively:

@Autowired
@Qualifier("bike")
void setVehicle(Vehicle vehicle) {
    this.vehicle = vehicle;
}

Using field injection:

@Autowired
@Qualifier("bike")
Vehicle vehicle;

For a more detailed description, please read this article.

2.4. @Required

@Required on setter methods to mark dependencies that we want to populate through XML:

@Required
void setColor(String color) {
    this.color = color;
}
<bean class="com.baeldung.annotations.Bike">
    <property name="color" value="green" />
</bean>

Otherwise, BeanInitializationException will be thrown.

2.5. @Value

We can use @Value for injecting property values into beans. It’s compatible with constructor, setter, and field injection.

Constructor injection:

Engine(@Value("8") int cylinderCount) {
    this.cylinderCount = cylinderCount;
}

Setter injection:

@Autowired
void setCylinderCount(@Value("8") int cylinderCount) {
    this.cylinderCount = cylinderCount;
}

Alternatively:

@Value("8")
void setCylinderCount(int cylinderCount) {
    this.cylinderCount = cylinderCount;
}

Field injection:

@Value("8")
int cylinderCount;

Of course, injecting static values isn’t useful. Therefore, we can use placeholder strings in @Value to wire values defined in external sources, for example, in .properties or .yaml files.

Let’s assume the following .properties file:

engine.fuelType=petrol

We can inject the value of engine.fuelType with the following:

@Value("${engine.fuelType}")
String fuelType;

We can use @Value even with SpEL. More advanced examples can be found in our article about @Value.

2.6. @DependsOn

We can use this annotation to make Spring initialize other beans before the annotated one. Usually, this behavior is automatic, based on the explicit dependencies between beans.

We only need this annotation when the dependencies are implicit, for example, JDBC driver loading or static variable initialization.

We can use @DependsOn on the dependent class specifying the names of the dependency beans. The annotation’s value argument needs an array containing the dependency bean names:

@DependsOn("engine")
class Car implements Vehicle {}

Alternatively, if we define a bean with the @Bean annotation, the factory method should be annotated with @DependsOn:

@Bean
@DependsOn("fuel")
Engine engine() {
    return new Engine();
}

2.7. @Lazy

We use @Lazy when we want to initialize our bean lazily. By default, Spring creates all singleton beans eagerly at the startup/bootstrapping of the application context.

However, there are cases when we need to create a bean when we request it, not at application startup.

This annotation behaves differently depending on where we exactly place it. We can put it on:

  • a @Bean annotated bean factory method, to delay the method call (hence the bean creation)
  • a @Configuration class and all contained @Bean methods will be affected
  • a @Component class, which is not a @Configuration class, this bean will be initialized lazily
  • an @Autowired constructor, setter, or field, to load the dependency itself lazily (via proxy)

This annotation has an argument named value with the default value of true. It is useful to override the default behavior.

For example, marking beans to be eagerly loaded when the global setting is lazy, or configure specific @Bean methods to eager loading in a @Configuration class marked with @Lazy:

@Configuration
@Lazy
class VehicleFactoryConfig {

    @Bean
    @Lazy(false)
    Engine engine() {
        return new Engine();
    }
}

For further reading, please visit this article.

2.8. @Lookup

A method annotated with @Lookup tells Spring to return an instance of the method’s return type when we invoke it.

Detailed information about the annotation can be found in this article.

2.9. @Primary

Sometimes we need to define multiple beans of the same type. In these cases, the injection will be unsuccessful because Spring has no clue which bean we need.

We already saw an option to deal with this scenario: marking all the wiring points with @Qualifier and specify the name of the required bean.

However, most of the time we need a specific bean and rarely the others. We can use @Primary to simplify this case: if we mark the most frequently used bean with @Primary it will be chosen on unqualified injection points:

@Component
@Primary
class Car implements Vehicle {}

@Component
class Bike implements Vehicle {}

@Component
class Driver {
    @Autowired
    Vehicle vehicle;
}

@Component
class Biker {
    @Autowired
    @Qualifier("bike")
    Vehicle vehicle;
}

In the previous example Car is the primary vehicle. Therefore, in the Driver class, Spring injects a Car bean. Of course, in the Biker bean, the value of the field vehicle will be a Bike object because it’s qualified.

2.10. @Scope

We use @Scope to define the scope of a @Component class or a @Bean definition. It can be either singleton, prototype, request, session, globalSession or some custom scope.

For example:

@Component
@Scope("prototype")
class Engine {}

3. Context Configuration Annotations

We can configure the application context with the annotations described in this section.

3.1. @Profile

If we want Spring to use a @Component class or a @Bean method only when a specific profile is active, we can mark it with @Profile. We can configure the name of the profile with the value argument of the annotation:

@Component
@Profile("sportDay")
class Bike implements Vehicle {}

You can read more about profiles in this article.

3.2. @Import

We can use specific @Configuration classes without component scanning with this annotation. We can provide those classes with @Import‘s value argument:

@Import(VehiclePartSupplier.class)
class VehicleFactoryConfig {}

3.3. @ImportResource

We can import XML configurations with this annotation. We can specify the XML file locations with the locations argument, or with its alias, the value argument:

@Configuration
@ImportResource("classpath:/annotations.xml")
class VehicleFactoryConfig {}

3.4. @PropertySource

With this annotation, we can define property files for application settings:

@Configuration
@PropertySource("classpath:/annotations.properties")
class VehicleFactoryConfig {}

@PropertySource leverages the Java 8 repeating annotations feature, which means we can mark a class with it multiple times:

@Configuration
@PropertySource("classpath:/annotations.properties")
@PropertySource("classpath:/vehicle-factory.properties")
class VehicleFactoryConfig {}

3.5. @PropertySources

We can use this annotation to specify multiple @PropertySource configurations:

@Configuration
@PropertySources({ 
    @PropertySource("classpath:/annotations.properties"),
    @PropertySource("classpath:/vehicle-factory.properties")
})
class VehicleFactoryConfig {}

Note, that since Java 8 we can achieve the same with the repeating annotations feature as described above.

4. Conclusion

In this article, we saw an overview of the most common Spring core annotations. We saw how to configure bean wiring and application context, and how to mark classes for component scanning.

As usual, the examples are available over on GitHub.

Next »
Spring Web Annotations

I just announced the new Spring 5 modules in REST With Spring:

>> CHECK OUT THE LESSONS