Seconds out, round one...again

Java EE 6 vs Spring – let’s get ready to rumble

Chris Mayer

Heated debate over Java evangelist Arun Gupta’s post ‘Why is Java EE 6 better than Spring’. Whose side do you sit on?

It has to be said – once Arun Gupta posted the blog title
Why is
Java EE better than Spring
‘ it was obvious that it would awaken
the Spring community. And unsurprisingly, they are up in arms over
what they see as another trolling article against their

He isn’t exactly the only one to proclaim Java EE 6’s worth over
the current Spring framework, with
Bill Burke
and Lincoln
Baxter III
both writing similar posts. Arun starts the piece
with the following note, hinting that he believes Spring is old

Thank you Spring framework for filling the interim gap and
providing functionality that is now included in the mainstream Java
EE 6 application servers. The Java EE platform has evolved over the
years learning from frameworks like Spring and provides all the
functionality to build an enterprise application. Thank you very
much Spring framework!

While Spring was revolutionary in its time and is still very
popular and quite main stream in the same way Struts was circa
2003, it really is last generation’s framework – some people are
even calling it 

Legacy? Although quoting fellow Java enthusiast Bill
Burke, that was bound to cause trouble.

To be fair to Gupta, he goes on create a simple
Hello World CRUD application in Java EE 6 and Spring and compares
the deployable artifacts. He hits a stumbling block with Spring,
opting to use
Hibernate and MySQL via this blog
 and finds it no problem
to do the same in Java with NetBeans. But I guess, given how
involved he is with Oracle, that should have been a

 He continues, using the tale of the
tape of Java vs Spring when generating WARs to back up his


The crux of Gupta’s argument rests on
the following points:

  • “Functionality like security, persistence, and dependency
    injection is baked in a Java EE 6 compliant application server but
    needs to be individually managed and patched for a Spring
    application. This very quickly leads to a ‘stack
  • Spring’s lack of up-to-dateness within sample projects
    (fairly valid)
  • The choice of 14 Java EE 6
    compliant application servers 
  • Vendor choice – The Java EE 6 platform is
    created using the Java Community Process where all the big players
    like Oracle, IBM, RedHat, and Apache are conritbuting to make the
    platform successful. Spring is VMWare alone.
  • Better production support.
  • Maintainability.

He concludes with the fact that any previous complexity in Java
(J2EE 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4) had vanished. It may have led to the
genesis of Spring back in 2004, yet now Java is back with a
vengeance. ‘This is 2012 and the name has changed to “Java EE
6″ :-)’

Spring’s Riposte

Hardly surprisingly, SpringSource employees were quick to dispel
Gupta’s proclamation to undergo a ‘Spring cleanup’. Some were
angrier than others. Ollie Gierke dissected some of Gupta’s claims
with gusto, coming up with the following conclusions:

  • the number of JARs, which would never naturally reach that
    amount in a typical Spring developer’s project.
  • Spring is more portable as you can get JPA2 working with Tomcat
    5. The myth of portability is exactly that.
  • Spring applications run on any Java EE container, so
    there’s more f
    reedom of choice.

There are others in his comment at the bottom of Gupta’s post in
more detail. Another Spring advocate and friend of Gupta,
James Bayer
 was slightly more scathing with a bit more
bite in debunking his claims:

I’m really surprised to see you trolling Spring like this. I
realize that in your job as a Java EE evangelist that you want to
advocate for products and frameworks that you are paid to advocate
for, but I don’t see the point in misrepresenting many of the
attributes that people like about the Spring Framework.

I find it hard to believe that you actually believe your blog is
a balanced and objective analysis. I must say that I never hear the
question why should I use Java EE 6 versus Spring and I think it’s
mostly a contrived question. Evans Data surveys indicate that about

2/3 of Java developers are using or will use Spring
. I guess if
you’re paid to travel around the world telling people not to use
the most popular Java framework that you need to come up with

While Java EE 6 was finalized over 2 years ago, Spring has
moved on to simplify and provide solutions to lots of other problem
domains with Spring Data applied to NoSQL (MongoDB, GemFire, Riak,
Redis, Neo4j) and Big Data (Hadoop)

This debate is getting pretty tiresome in our view. We agree
with Bayer in part, that the argument appears to be coming from
Oracle quarters in fuelling the fire. It’s clear that these
scuffles don’t tend to help either side out, especially if
disingenuous claims come into play.

But which side do you sit? Are you pro-Java EE 6 or
Spring through and through. We’d love to hear your

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