Spring beans

In Spring, the objects that form the backbone of your application and that are managed by the Spring IoC container are called beans. A bean is an object that is instantiated, assembled, and otherwise managed by a Spring IoC container. Otherwise, a bean is simply one of many objects in your application. Beans, and the dependencies among them, are reflected in the configuration metadata used by a container.

Define bean

class ExampleBean {}

Define in xml

<bean name="anotherExample" class="examples.ExampleBean"/>

Define with Annotations

class ExampleBean {}

Bean lifecycle

Custom init

Custom destroy

Aware Interfaces

Besides ApplicationContextAware and BeanNameAware discussed above, Spring offers a range of Aware interfaces that allow beans to indicate to the container that they require a certain infrastructure dependency.

Customizing beans using a BeanPostProcessor

The BeanPostProcessor interface defines callback methods that you can implement to provide your own (or override the container's default) instantiation logic, dependency-resolution logic, and so forth. If you want to implement some custom logic after the Spring container finishes instantiating, configuring, and initializing a bean, you can plug in one or more BeanPostProcessor implementations.

public class InstantiationTracingBeanPostProcessor implements BeanPostProcessor {

  // simply return the instantiated bean as-is
  public Object postProcessBeforeInitialization(Object bean, String beanName)
                                                                     throws BeansException {
      return bean; // we could potentially return any object reference here...

  public Object postProcessAfterInitialization(Object bean, String beanName)
                                                                     throws BeansException {
      System.out.println("Bean '" + beanName + "' created : " + bean.toString());
      return bean;

Customizing configuration metadata with a BeanFactoryPostProcessor

The next extension point that we will look at is the org.springframework.beans.factory.config.BeanFactoryPostProcessor. The semantics of this interface are similar to those of the BeanPostProcessor, with one major difference: BeanFactoryPostProcessors operate on the bean configuration metadata; that is, the Spring IoC container allows BeanFactoryPostProcessors to read the configuration metadata and potentially change it before the container instantiates any beans other than BeanFactoryPostProcessors.

<bean class="org.springframework.beans.factory.config.PropertyPlaceholderConfigurer">
    <property name="locations" value="classpath:com/foo/jdbc.properties"/>

<bean id="dataSource" destroy-method="close"
    <property name="driverClassName" value="${jdbc.driverClassName}"/>
    <property name="url" value="${jdbc.url}"/>
    <property name="username" value="${jdbc.username}"/>
    <property name="password" value="${jdbc.password}"/>

Lazy-initialized Beans

By default, ApplicationContext implementations eagerly create and configure all singleton beans as part of the initialization process. Generally, this pre-instantiation is desirable, because errors in the configuration or surrounding environment are discovered immediately, as opposed to hours or even days later. When this behavior is not desirable, you can prevent pre-instantiation of a singleton bean by marking the bean definition as being lazy-initialized. A lazy-initialized bean tells the IoC container to create a bean instance when it is first requested, rather than at startup.

However, when a lazy-initialized bean is a dependency of a singleton bean that is not lazy-initialized, the ApplicationContext creates the lazy-initialized bean at startup, because it must satisfy the singleton’s dependencies. The lazy-initialized bean is injected into a singleton bean elsewhere that is not lazy-initialized.


Custom scopes

As of Spring 2.0, the bean scoping mechanism is extensible. You can define your own scopes, or even redefine existing scopes, although the latter is considered bad practice and you cannot override the built-in singleton and prototype scopes.

To integrate your custom scope(s) into the Spring container, you need to implement the org.springframework.beans.factory.config.Scope interface, which is described in this section. For an idea of how to implement your own scopes, see the Scope implementations that are supplied with the Spring Framework itself and the Scope Javadoc, which explains the methods you need to implement in more detail.