The State of Spring in 2018 – Devoxx UK Impressions

Thanks to my company – Scott Logic – I recently had a pleasure of attending the Devoxx UK 2018 conference. Among many interesting talks and speakers, there were quite a few Spring celebrities present. Juergen Holler (Father of Spring), Josh Long and Mark Heckler were all there. Here are my impressions from the conference.

Spring is hugely popular

This is hardly news for anyone interested in microservices, but the popularity of Spring can’t be overstated. Every Spring talk was full and the audience was very engaged. Spring is very much the bread and butter of Server Side Java in 2018.

The rate of adoption of Spring 5 and Spring 2.0 was also surprising. Based on the quick audience polls it seemed that more than 50% already adopted the new versions (not necessarily in production).

Kotlin is going to be big

If there is one takeaway that I got from this conferences, it is the importance of Kotlin. Every single Spring talk was mentioning Kotlin and how important it is for the Spring ecosystem.

This is a good news, as personally, I think Kotlin is the most Java-dev-friendly from the other JVM languages. I can imagine going with Kotlin to production with my future clients, as the Java-Kotlin interpolability is really great. Knowing that Spring supports Kotlin as a first-class citizen is reassuring.

Springing into Kotlin: How to Make the Magic even more Magical, with Mark Heckler

If you are intrigued by this Spring-Kotlin union, you should definitely see Mark Heckler’s talk. Mark gives a good overview of how easy it is to work with Spring in Kotlin.

The highlight of this talk is the amount of live coding done, which really lets you see how live Spring-Kotlin development looks like. I really recommend it:

Spring Framework 5: Feature Highlights & Hidden Gems, with Juergen Hoeller

The second Spring talk I watched at this year’s Devoxx, was by Juergen Hoeller- Spring Framework Lead and the co-author of the original framework himself!

This was really a highlight of what is new in Spring 5 which mostly focused on:

  • Component Style – Programmatic bean wiring, functional style etc.
  • Reactive Architectures – WebFlux and Reactor
  • Hidden Gems – Watch it yourself!

I highly recommend it, as it is great to see the Spring 5 overview straight from the Framework Lead himself!

Cloud Native Java, part deux, with Josh Long

This was the most entertaining talk of all the three, thanks to the great showmanship provided by Josh Long. If you have never seen one of his Spring talks- you have to watch this one! Hilarious and full of insights.

Once again in Kotlin, Josh looks at WebFlux, changing Spring Boot logo, Project Riff and multiple other serious and not-so-serious concepts and ideas. A wild ride- definitely educational, definitely entertaining!

The Spring Birds of Feather

The great thing is- that was not all the Spring content that was available at the conference. We were also treated to Spring Birds of a Feather session.

Unfortunately, there is no recording of the session. It was a not-so-formal discussion among the attendees, Juergen Hoeller and Josh Long. The topics that we covered included:

  • Pivotal participation in the Jakarta EE efforts (mostly passive at the moment)
  • Advantages and disadvantages of WebFlux. Advice from Juergen- if you are building a simple service with not much traffic- stick to classical Spring MVC!
  • Optimizations of Spring Framework- different decisions that Spring development team takes to make sure that the framework loads fast and works well.
  • Adoptions rate and challenges that different people facing when updating to the newer versions. There were not many challenges, but glad that the guys care so much!
  • Other questions and ideas.

I find it amazing that the Spring team is willing to meet face to face with the users of the framework and listen to our opinions and concerns. If you ever get a chance to attend a similar Birds of Feather session- I highly recommend it!


Devoxx UK 2018 was an outstanding conference. Normally, that information wouldn’t give you much, but this time… All the videos are available online! If you enjoy listening to high-quality technical presenters- it is your lucky day! Check all the conference videos on their YouTube channel.