# Package scanning

In this topic I will overview spring boot package scanning.

You can find some basic information in spring boot docs in the following link (using-boot-structuring-your-code (opens new window)) but I will try to provide more detailed information.

Spring boot, and spring in general, provide a feature to automatically scan packages for certain annotations in order to create beans and configuration.

# @ComponentScan

You can use @ComponentScan in order to configure more complex package scanning. There is also @ComponentScans that act as a container annotation that aggregates several @ComponentScan annotations.

Basic code examples

public class DemoAutoConfiguration {

@ComponentScans({@ComponentScan("com.example1"), @ComponentScan("com.example2")})
public class DemoAutoConfiguration {

Stating @ComponentScan with no configuration acts like @SpringBootApplication and scans all packages under the class annotated with this annotation.

In this example I will state some of the useful attributes of @ComponentScan:

  1. basePackages - can be used to state specific packages to scan.
  2. useDefaultFilters - by setting this attribute to false (defaults true) you can make sure spring does not scan @Component, @Repository, @Service, or @Controller automatically.
  3. includeFilters - can be used to include specific spring annotations / regex patterns to include in package scanning.
  4. excludeFilters - can be used to exclude specific spring annotations / regex patterns to include in package scanning.

There are many more attributes but those are the most commonly used in order to customize package scanning.

# Creating your own auto-configuration

Spring boot is based on a lot of pre-made auto-configuration parent projects. You should already be familiar with spring boot starter projects.

You can easily create your own starter project by doing the following easy steps:

  1. Create some @Configuration classes to define default beans. You should use external properties as much as possible to allow customization and try to use auto-configuration helper annotations like @AutoConfigureBefore, @AutoConfigureAfter, @ConditionalOnBean, @ConditionalOnMissingBean etc. You can find more detailed information on each annotation in the official documentation Condition annotations (opens new window)
  2. Place an auto-configuration file/files that aggregates all of the @Configuration classes.
  3. Create a file named spring.factories and place it in src/main/resources/META-INF.
  4. In spring.factories, set org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.EnableAutoConfiguration property with comma separated values of your @Configuration classes:

Using this method you can create your own auto-configuration classes that will be picked by spring-boot. Spring-boot automatically scan all maven/gradle dependencies for a spring.factories file, if it finds one, it adds all @Configuration classes specified in it to its auto-configuration process.

Make sure your auto-configuration starter project does not contain spring boot maven plugin because it will package the project as an executable JAR and won't be loaded by the classpath as intended - spring boot will not be able to find your spring.factories and won't load your configuration

# @SpringBootApplication

The most basic way to structure your code using spring boot for good automatic package scanning is using @SpringBootApplication annotation. This annotation provide in itself 3 other annotations that helps with automatic scanning: @SpringBootConfiguration, @EnableAutoConfiguration, @ComponentScan (more info about each annotation in the Parameters section).

@SpringBootApplication will usualy be placed in the main package and all other components will be placed in packages under this file:

 +- example
     +- myproject
         +- Application.java (annotated with @SpringBootApplication)
         +- domain
         |   +- Customer.java
         |   +- CustomerRepository.java
         +- service
         |   +- CustomerService.java
         +- web
             +- CustomerController.java

Unless mentioned otherwise, spring boot detects @Configuration, @Component, @Repository, @Service, @Controller, @RestController annotations automatically under the scanned packages (@Configuration and @RestController are being picked because they are annotated by @Component and @Controller accordingly).

Basic Code example:

public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);

Setting packages/classes explicitly

Since version 1.3 you can also tell spring boot to scan specific packages by setting scanBasePackages or scanBasePackageClasses in @SpringBootApplication instead of specifying @ComponentScan.

  1. @SpringBootApplication(scanBasePackages = "com.example.myproject") - set com.example.myproject as the base package to scan.
  2. @SpringBootApplication(scanBasePackageClasses = CustomerController.class) - type-safe alternative to scanBasePackages sets the package of CustomerController.java, com.example.myproject.web, as the base package to scan.

Excluding auto-configuration

Another important feature is the ability to exclude specific auto-configuration classes using exclude or excludeName (excludeName exist since version 1.3).

  1. @SpringBootApplication(exclude = DemoConfiguration.class) - will exclude DemoConfiguration from auto package scanning.
  2. @SpringBootApplication(excludeName = "DemoConfiguration") - will do the same using class fully classified name.

# Parameters

Annotation Details
@SpringBootApplication Main spring boot application annotation. used one time in the application, contains a main method, and act as main package for package scanning
@SpringBootConfiguration Indicates that a class provides Spring Boot application. Should be declared only once in the application, usually automatically by setting @SpringBootApplication
@EnableAutoConfiguration Enable auto-configuration of the Spring Application Context. Should be declared only once in the application, usually automatically by setting @SpringBootApplication
@ComponentScan Used to trigger automatic package scanning on a certain package and its children or to set custom package scanning
@Configuration Used to declare one or more @Bean methods. Can be picked by auto package scanning in order to declare one or more @Bean methods instead of traditional xml configuration
@Bean Indicates that a method produces a bean to be managed by the Spring container. Usually @Bean annotated methods will be placed in @Configuration annotated classes that will be picked by package scanning to create java configuration based beans.
@Component By declaring a class as a @Component it becomes a candidates for auto-detection when using annotation-based configuration and classpath scanning. Usually a class annotated with @Component will become a bean in the application
@Repository Originally defined by Domain-Driven Design (Evans, 2003) as "a mechanism for encapsulating storage. It is usualy used to indicate a Repository for spring data
@Service Very similar in practice to @Component. originally defined by Domain-Driven Design (Evans, 2003) as "an operation offered as an interface that stands alone in the model, with no encapsulated state."
@Controller Indicates that an annotated class is a "Controller" (e.g. a web controller).
@RestController A convenience annotation that is itself annotated with @Controller and @ResponseBody. Will be automatically picked by default because it contains the @Controller annotation that is picked by default.