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Build a Spring Boot Application

VMware Tanzu Labs

This lab will walk you through setting up a Java application using Spring Boot. At the end of this learning path you will have evolved this from a single application to a distributed application consisting of multiple microservices. In the spirit of the history of Pivotal Tracker, the suite of applications will include the microservices supporting a software project management tool, an application for tracking time, and an application for allocating people to projects.

Learning outcomes

After completing the lab, you will be able to:

  • Describe how to create runnable Spring Boot application
  • Describe how to create a controller that responds to HTTP requests
  • Use gradle to run Gradle tasks

Getting started

  1. Check out the Introduction Lab.

  2. In a terminal window, make sure you start in the ~/workspace/pal-tracker directory.

  3. Review the state of your Git repository:

    git log --oneline --decorate --graph

    You will notice that HEAD is at second commit.

    * bc868bf (HEAD -> main) added gradle wrapper to initial project
    * 0ac8b7f (tag: spring-boot-start, origin/main, origin/HEAD) Initial commit

    You have nothing in your codebase yet except for the Gradle wrapper you generated during the Introduction lab.

  4. Verify the state of your Git workspace:

    git status

    You will notice that your local repository is ahead of your remote by one commit. That is expected:

    On branch main
    Your branch is ahead of 'origin/main' by 1 commit.
    (use "git push" to publish your local commits)
    nothing to commit, working tree clean

If you get stuck

If you get stuck during this lab, you can either view the solution, or you can fast-forward to the spring-boot-solution tag.

Bootstrap the application

Now that the plumbing of your application is set up, you can begin building a Spring Boot Hello World application.

  1. Import the pal-tracker project in your IDE.

  2. If you are familiar with Gradle, make the following additions to your build.gradle file:

    • Add a plugins closure:

    • Create a repositories closure adding Maven Central to your build.gradle file.

    • Add a dependencies closure, and add a Java implementation dependency on the org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-web package.

  3. If you are unfamiliar with Gradle at this point, or want to check the changes that you have made, you can see what the resulting build.gradle file should look like:

    git show spring-boot-solution:build.gradle

    Make sure that your build.gradle has all of the necessary elements before moving on.

  4. Add a settings.gradle file with the following contents: = "pal-tracker"

    This will configure the name of your Gradle project which ensures that your jar file has the correct filename.

  5. Refresh the Gradle project in your IDE so that it picks up your changes.

  6. Create a standard Maven directory layout.

    Specifically, create a src/main/java directory structure within the pal-tracker directory.

  7. Inside of the source directory, all of your code will go into the io.pivotal.pal.tracker package. Create this package now.

    If you are creating this manually (without the help of an IDE), make sure you are creating a directory structure that mirrors the package specification:

    mkdir -p src/main/java/io/pivotal/pal/tracker
  8. Create a class in the tracker package called PalTrackerApplication and annotate it with @SpringBootApplication.

    This annotation enables component scanning, auto configuration, and declares that the class is a configuration class.

  9. Add a main method to the PalTrackerApplication class that will tell Spring to run.

    This main method executes the Spring Boot method which bootstraps the Dependency Injection container, scans the classpath for beans, and starts the application.

    You can view the solution:

    git show spring-boot-solution:src/main/java/io/pivotal/pal/tracker/
  10. Verify the application is set up correctly by running your application.

    Using your Gradle wrapper, run the tasks command to find which task to use to run your application locally. This will be the task with a description that says: “Runs this project as a Spring Boot application”. Once you find the task, use it to run your application.

    Make sure that you run the Gradle wrapper command, gradlew, rather than the gradle command itself. You can do this from the command-line like this:

    ./gradlew tasks

    You may also find that your IDE provides integration to run the Gradle wrapper tasks directly.

    If all is well, you will see log output from Spring Boot and a line that says it is listening on port 8080. Navigate to localhost:8080 and see that the application responds. You will see a “whitelabel” error page with a status code of 404. The application is running but it does not have any controllers. Stop the application with Ctrl+C.

Create a controller

In the same package you will now create a controller class that returns hello when the app receives a GET request at /.

Following labs will go in to more detail about what is happening here, but for now, just follow along.

  1. Create a class called WelcomeController in the tracker package, alongside the main application class .

  2. Annotate WelcomeController with @RestController and write a method that returns the string hello.

    The name of the method is not important to Spring, but call it sayHello. Finally, annotate the method with @GetMapping("/").

    You can view the solution if you get stuck:

    git show spring-boot-solution:src/main/java/io/pivotal/pal/tracker/
  3. Verify the controller is working correctly by starting the application.

    Now visit localhost:8080 to see the hello message.

  4. Make a commit with your new changes and push your work to your repository on GitHub.

    You now have a small working web application. In the next lab, you will push this application to Tanzu Application Service.

Wrap up

Now that you have completed the lab, you should be able to:

  • Describe how to create runnable Spring Boot application
  • Describe how to create a controller that responds to HTTP requests
  • Use the Gradle wrapper to run Gradle tasks


If you have additional time, explore the dependencies included in the spring-boot-starter-web library. Go to the main Maven repository for Spring Boot web starter, find the version you are using, and navigate to its page. You will see the Maven POM file (in XML format). The <dependencies> section of the file shows the immediate dependencies of the starter, for example:


In Gradle syntax that corresponds to:

  implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter:2.5.3.RELEASE'

There is a link to the pages for each of these dependencies at the bottom of the scrolling panel at the right of the screen.

Try to write the dependencies closure in the build.gradle file so that your application runs without using any starters.