Four Spring Cloud Projects That You Should Be Using

Since I’ve moved up to the Seattle-area three years ago, there’s been a hole in my life. No longer. The Habit just opened up around the corner from me. I missed that place! While most of the attention (including my own) is on the Charburger, they actually have a pretty deep menu. I thought about that this week when looking at the latest Spring Cloud portfolio. While it’s used millions of times per month by Java developers —and usage grew 137% over the past year alone—Spring Cloud is best known for its Config Server and packaging of NetflixOSS tech. You know, things for service discovery, load balancing, circuit breakers, etc. THEY DESERVE THE GLORY. But there are four other interesting packages that you shouldn’t overlook.

Spring Cloud Stream

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of this library. It abstracts away all the complexity of dealing with message brokers like RabbitMQ and Apache Kafka. Spring Cloud Stream has a straightforward programming model that makes it simple to do complex things. Content-based routing? Dead letter queuing? Content-type conversions? Partitioned processing, even on brokers that don’t natively support it? You get all that.

I’ve seen more and more companies move away from the heavy, centralized ESB and towards a federated messaging model. With Stream, you can use your choice of message broker, but make it a late-binding decision for developers. And if you’re doing event processing and want to chain a series of action together, Spring Cloud Stream works great with Spring Cloud Data Flow.

If you want to dig in, check out my Pluralsight course that has a whole module on Spring Cloud Stream. Or just go build something!

Spring Cloud Contract

Consumer-driven contracts are a fresh take on testing APIs. You know the classic way we share API info: create an API and expose operations and payloads for teams to model and test against. With consumer-driven contracts, the API creator builds and tests their service against a set of consumer expectations. But this has traditionally been a bit difficult to pull off. Enter Spring Cloud Contract.

It’s described in the docs as moving “TDD to the level of software architecture.” It does this by “covering a range of options for writing tests, publishing them as assets, and asserting that a contract is kept by producers and consumers.”

You write contracts in Groovy or YAML, and testing stubs get generated and used by both producers and consumers. This enables fast feedback for both side. What’s cool about these generated testing stubs (and the associated “stub runner”) is that you can mock complex distributed systems with a few code annotations. This includes the messaging layer as well. Powerful stuff, and a big deal for today’s software developers.

Read this insightful interview with Spring Cloud Contract’s creator, Marcin Grzejszczak. And check out the docs for all the gory details.

Spring Cloud Gateway

This one’s pretty new, so I’ll excuse you if you haven’t heard of it. BUT ONLY THIS ONCE! Spring Cloud Gateway gives you a powerful API gateway based on Spring components.

Use (built-in or custom) route predicates to determine how requests are handled. Built-in ones include datetime (before, after, or between), cookies, headers, host, method, path, query, and more. Combine them to get whatever behavior you need. You can also modify incoming or outgoing traffic. Add headers, integrate with Hystrix for circuit breaker behavior, check a rate limiter, do directors, among other things. As you’d expect, this is quite extensible and scalable.

API gateways form an important part of your architecture, and having a bunch of mini-gateways deployed (instead of a single, monolithic one) might give you extra flexibility. Check out the docs and try it out.

Spring Cloud Function

Unless you’ve awoken from a three-year slumber, you’re probably familiar with “serverless” tech. Spring Cloud Function is a pretty wicked (generally available) framework that does a few things you might not expect.

It’s not just about making Spring Boot friendly to function platforms like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions. That’s there (see AWS and Azure adapter guidance). But besides providing a consistent programming model across clouds, it also has stuff you need to run it standalone.

Decorate your code with annotations that result in HTTP or stream-processing endpoints getting attached to your function. Your function can take part in messaging as a source, processor (takes data in, publishes data out), or sink. Or it can get be a standalone web app that gets activated upon HTTP request. Neato. Read the docs and see how easy it is to get started.

Spring Cloud is a pretty unique collection of projects, and the Spring team is constantly upgrading and improving them. The whole point is to make it simple to incorporate proven distributed systems pattern in your apps. From what I can tell, it’s achieving that mission.


Categories: Cloud, DevOps, General Architecture, Messaging, Spring

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