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10 Best Spring Books to learn Spring with MVC
Table of Contents
Spring is the most popular and powerful Java framework. With Spring, highly performant full-stack applications can be built quickly. Spring provides many features like dependency injection (inversion of control), aspect-oriented programming. One needs to be familiar with these concepts to use them correctly to build spring applications.
You can learn Spring through online tutorials and guides, however, having a few books can help you with thorough step-by-step learning and quick reference whenever needed. I always keep a highlighter while reading to mark important concepts that can be referred to later. Books are authentic and always accessible, and hence one of the best ways to learn the Spring framework.
Best Spring Books
Here are the 10 best Spring books, out of the many available in the market, in no particular order:
1. Spring MVC: A Tutorial
This is a good book for developers who have knowledge about Java, JSP, web programming, and a little bit of Spring. It explains Spring MVC extremely well. However, it directly starts with concepts and code examples – it does not cover setting up your system or installing and configuring your IDE. It is not a very exhaustive or detailed book so you can use it as a reference book, but starts with the basics of servlets and then talks about Spring API. Then the author goes on to explain why a concept was developed and how it evolved to what it is today. The author's writing pace is perfect for grasping the concepts well, along with examples that are simple yet relatable. The book explains at length about Validators, Form tags, converters, and expression language, which you will not find in most Spring books.
2. Spring in Action
This is a good book for all types of learners – beginners, intermediate, and advanced. It can be a good learning material, a quick reference or guide, and also serve as a good material for advanced concepts. The author gives good examples to explain each concept starting from the core container, dependency injection, AOP, advanced bean wiring, to building an entire web application with Spring including the front end and the persistence (data) layer. The writing is simple and concise. It is a great book for full-stack software developers, and the author has given equal focus to the database as well as core container aspects. If you have a working knowledge of Spring, you can also skip to part 2, which focuses on web application development. The book also introduces readers to Spring boot, though only basics are covered.
3. Spring Integration in Action
This is also an intermediate to advanced level book, which covers everything about Spring integration. Don't expect the basic core concepts like DI, AOP in this book. The book is detailed and comprehensive. The author follows a nice approach where he first tells you how you would do something in plain Java, and then how it can be improved using Spring integration. The book has a good balance of concepts, explanations, and examples. The diagrams are good. Most of the book is based on a hands-on approach. Other than covering integration in detail, it also covers more advanced concepts like batching and scheduling. If you do not have much idea about EIP (Enterprise Integration Patterns), you can refer to additional resources; this book assumes that you have prior knowledge of Java, J2ee, and some basics of Spring.
4. Spring Data: Modern Data Access for Enterprise Java
This is a great book for aspiring data scientists. The best part of the book is that it covers how to integrate Spring with Apache Hadoop, which is an important component for big data and data science. You can sense the depth of knowledge and clarity of concepts of the author with his tone itself. There are a lot of examples other than a thorough explanation of Spring data. You can work with the examples as you go along by setting up your system as guided in the book. This book is not for you if you want to learn about Spring core concepts. It only talks about the database layer and how Spring can be integrated with the same. Spring data modules are covered in detail. The flow is good as the author first starts with the traditional methods like JDBC and then moves on to non-relational DBs like MongoDB, Neo4j, HBase.
5. Getting started with Spring Framework
This is one book that encourages you to learn by practising rather than reading pages of theory about a concept. It is clear concise and perfect for beginners. Starting with step-by-step instructions in the beginning to introduce more complex topics later, the book is well-organized and covers all aspects of the Spring framework. It is a good reference guide for those who work on Spring projects and want to refresh or reference some material once in a while. The examples are practical and help you think of the bigger picture of why we are doing something the way it is. The first chapter gives an overview of the core concepts like container, AOP, DI, web application, messaging, integration, and unit testing module. The further chapters on each of these also cover Spring data and Spring security.
Later chapters also cover functional and reactive programming with Java and RxJava2, respectively.
6. Pro Spring
This is a great resource for every Java/J2ee programmer. The book assumes that the reader is a novice; however, if you already have experience with one or two Spring projects, you will still benefit a lot. The book covers a wide range of topics, most of them in detail, and some just overviews. The book focuses more on why you need a concept than just explaining the concept itself. There are many code examples, and all of them are simple to understand and work. The author follows a simple language, and the flow is consistent. For such a huge book, one would have expected the author to cover Spring security, boots, and microservices. However, the book doesn't cover these and instead focuses on core spring, web development, persistence, and transaction management. You can also check out the newer version of this book that covers Spring 5.
7. Spring 5 Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach
The book might seem unorganized and clumsy at first, but as you will go through chapters, you will find the approach of the book very nice. It is thorough, easy to understand, and full of code examples. The author gives many ways of solving an issue, and the reader can make the best out of it by choosing the one that suits their project. The only downside is that the source code downloaded from the mentioned site (Apress) is slightly different from that used in the book. There are some errors, and you have to correct them before you can run the code – this might seem a very bad thing, but it allows you to first correct the errors yourself without looking into the book. A great book is having a wealth of information about Spring basic and advanced concepts, including AOP, DI, security, transaction, MVC, REST, messaging, integration, and more.
8. Cloud-native Java: Spring boot, Spring cloud
This is a book for advanced programmers. If you are looking for core concepts of Spring – this is not the one. It covers how to simplify your applications using Spring boot, cloud, and introduces these concepts gently using examples. The approach of this book is different. It explains concepts through examples and not just theories. The book touches upon all the advanced concepts, though it doesn't explain many of them in-depth – for example, you wouldn't find much about cloud foundry, though it has been used everywhere, on the other hand, the book bases everything on microservices. However, the author points you to a lot of useful resources where you can read about cloud foundry and many other topics that are sparsely explained in the book.
9. Spring 5 Design Patterns
The book explains many design patterns with neat examples to get you started on best coding practices. You will be able to map each design pattern with the core concepts of Spring and how to implement them easily in your projects. This is not a basic Spring tutorial; it's a nice attempt to solve design problems by following good design patterns. The core concepts are spread across the book and explained thoroughly. The language of the book is simple, and the author seems to understand the psychology of a developer well. The flow of chapters is systematic. However, you can jump into any chapter because each design pattern is independent of others – you should know Java, XML, and JSP before reading this book. It will also be good if you have worked on Spring projects before to appreciate the contents of this book better.
10. Mastering Spring 5
Although the author sometimes assumes that you have a working knowledge of Spring, he explains all the core concepts as if explaining to a layperson. The book is structured well, and the author specifies what should be expected in each chapter. The first chapter gives an overview of all the important features and concepts. The complexity of topics increases as we move forward with each chapter. The flow is nice, and the book covers a wide range of topics like Spring security, building RESTful APIs, React, Spring Boot, Spring data, Kotlin and Spring microservices, although not in too much detail, but for a good start. For advanced topics, you may need to refer to additional resources as well. However, the basic concepts are explained very well.
Spring & Hibernate for Beginners (includes Spring Boot)
Bonus Spring Books
The bonus books are not about Spring core but about Spring boot and microservices, respectively. These are the best books for learning boot and microservices – but you have first to learn the basics of the Spring framework to appreciate these books.
1. Learning Spring Boot 2.0
This book has a hands-on approach, so if you are looking for basic concepts and a step by step explanation, you might find it hard to understand in the beginning. However, as the chapters progress, you will start appreciating why the author has followed this approach.
2. Spring Microservices in Action 1st Edition
This is a treasure you will always want to have if you are a java developer having basic knowledge and at least a few months of Spring experience. The examples are great, and the author's tone is gentle and naturally takes you from theory to practice. Nice detailing of concepts and the topics covered are wide. The best part is that the author sets your mind to appreciate microservices by explaining why it is so useful for building applications.
Additionally, I also found "Professional Java Development with the Spring Framework" to be a great reference book that explains the spring framework step-by-step. Though about 15 years old, the concepts and examples still hold good and are better than any of the newer books. The book didn't make it to the list because it doesn't have the new Spring features, but it is still worth mentioning for the treasure it carries.
Learning Spring is easy, and if you already know Java, you can always work it out using the eclipse IDE or any other IDE that you prefer. A lot of the books we have mentioned serve as handy references in your projects. The book on Spring 5 Design Patterns is for Java developers who have a working knowledge of Spring concepts but want to improve code performance through best coding practices. If you have no idea about Spring, "Getting started with Spring framework" will help you get started, followed by "Spring in Action." If you are a data scientist looking for ideas on how Spring can handle your big data, Spring data will be the perfect book. Whichever book you choose, it is important to build a strong foundation before you get on to more complex concepts like Spring integration, remoting, and microservices.
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Spring In Action - 5th Edition is NOT a great book. I'm in Chapter 3, having so many issues with the what is written in the book and trying to code along using IntelliJ, just too many issues to figure out and also learn what Spring is doing. Confusing as all can be - the reviews on Amazon (recent ones as of March 2020) are spot on. Hard to figure out what should be coded to what the book has. I don't believe anyone really did coding along with the book. If they did, magic must have happened!!