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Dependency Injection, Circular References, and Spring Bean Life Cycle: A Comprehensive Guide

Dependency Injection, Circular References, and Spring Bean Life Cycle: A Comprehensive Guide

Amr Khaled's photo
Amr Khaled
·Jan 25, 2023·

7 min read

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Table of contents

  • Dependency Injection
  • Circular References
  • Spring Bean Life Cycle

This tutorial is part of Springing into Action: A Spring Boot Journey from Novice to Pro Series, be sure to check it out for more related content!

Dependency Injection (DI) is a fundamental concept in software development that allows objects to be decoupled from their dependencies. In Spring, DI is achieved through the use of the @Autowired annotation, which can be applied to fields, methods, or constructors. DI is a powerful technique that can help you to write more maintainable and testable code.

However, when not used correctly, DI can lead to circular references. A circular reference occurs when two or more beans depend on each other, creating a cycle that cannot be resolved. In Spring, circular references can be detected and resolved through the use of @Lazy, @Primary, or @DependsOn annotations.

In addition to DI and circular references, understanding the Spring Bean Life Cycle is also important for developing robust and maintainable applications. The Spring Bean Life Cycle consists of several phases, including instantiation, dependency injection, initialization, and destruction. Understanding these phases and how to use annotations such as @PostConstruct and @PreDestroy can help you to write more efficient and effective code.

In this article, we will explore these topics in greater depth, providing examples and best practices for each.

Dependency Injection

Dependency Injection is a design pattern that allows objects to be decoupled from their dependencies. In Spring, this is achieved through the use of the @Autowired annotation.

The @Autowired annotation can be applied to fields, methods, or constructors, and is used to inject a dependency into a class. For example, if we have a MyService class that depends on a MyRepository class, we can use the @Autowired annotation to inject the MyRepository dependency into the MyService class:

@Service
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    private MyRepository myRepository;

    public void doSomething() {
        // use myRepository here
    }
}

In the above example, the MyService class is annotated with @Service which tells Spring to create an instance of this class as a bean, and MyRepository class is also annotated with @Repository which tells Spring to create an instance of this class as a bean and the MyRepository bean is injected into the MyService bean.

We can also use the @Autowired annotation on constructors and methods. For example, instead of using the annotation on a field, we can use it on a constructor or method like this:

@Service
public class MyService {
    private final MyRepository myRepository;

    @Autowired
    public MyService(MyRepository myRepository) {
        this.myRepository = myRepository;
    }
    public void doSomething() {
        // use myRepository here
    }
}

In this example, Spring will automatically call the constructor with the MyRepository bean as its argument, and the myRepository field will be initialized with the injected dependency.

It's also worth noting that Spring also provides other annotations for injecting dependencies, such as @Resource, @Inject, and @Qualifier. These annotations can be used in similar ways as @Autowired, but they have some small differences. @Resource and @Inject are part of Java's standard annotation library, while @Autowired is specific to the Spring framework. @Qualifier can be used in conjunction with @Autowired to disambiguate between multiple beans of the same type.

@Service
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    @Qualifier("myRepository")
    private MyRepository myRepository;
}

In the above example, @Qualifier is used to specify that the myRepository bean should be injected, rather than any other bean of type MyRepository.

Best Practices

  • Use constructor injection where possible, as it makes the code more readable and testable.

  • Use field injection only as a last resort, as it can make the code harder to understand and test.

  • Avoid using setter injection, as it can lead to tight coupling between classes.

  • Use @Qualifier to disambiguate between multiple beans of the same type.

  • Use @Primary or @Lazy to resolve circular references.

Circular References

A circular reference occurs when two or more beans depend on each other, creating a cycle that cannot be resolved. In Spring, circular references can be detected and resolved through the use of @Lazy, @Primary, or @DependsOn annotations.

The @Lazy annotation can be used to delay the initialization of a bean until it is needed. For example, if we have a MyService class that depends on a MyRepository class, and the MyRepository class depends on the MyService class, we can use the @Lazy annotation on one of the dependencies to break the cycle:

@Service
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    @Lazy
    private MyRepository myRepository;
}

@Repository
public class MyRepository {
    @Autowired
    private MyService myService;
}

In this example, the MyService bean will not be initialized until it is actually needed, thus breaking the circular reference.

The @Primary annotation can be used to specify that a particular bean should be used by default when multiple beans of the same type are found. For example, if we have two MyRepository beans, one annotated with @Primary and one without, the bean annotated with @Primary will be used by default.

@Repository
@Primary
public class MyRepositoryImpl1 implements MyRepository {
    //implementation
}

@Repository
public class MyRepositoryImpl2 implements MyRepository {
    //implementation
}

In this example, MyRepositoryImpl1 will be used by default as it is annotated with @Primary.

The @DependsOn annotation can be used to specify that a particular bean should be initialized before another bean. For example, if we have a MyService class that depends on a MyRepository class and a MyInitializer class, we can use the @DependsOn annotation to ensure that the MyInitializer bean is initialized before the MyRepository bean:

@Service
@DependsOn("myInitializer")
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    private MyRepository myRepository;
}

@Component
public class MyInitializer {
    //initialization code
}

In this example, the MyInitializer bean will be initialized before the MyService bean, ensuring that the MyRepository bean has access to any resources that may have been initialized by MyInitializer.

Best Practices

  • Use @Lazy to delay the initialization of a bean until it is actually needed.

  • Use @Primary to specify that a particular bean should be used by default when multiple beans of the same type are found.

  • Use @DependsOn to specify that a particular bean should be initialized before another bean.

  • Avoid creating circular references whenever possible.

Spring Bean Life Cycle

The Spring Bean Life Cycle consists of several phases, including instantiation, dependency injection, initialization, and destruction. Understanding these phases and how to use annotations such as @PostConstruct and @PreDestroy can help you to write more efficient and effective code.

The @PostConstruct annotation can be used to indicate a method that should be called after the bean is constructed and all its dependencies have been injected. For example, if we have a MyService class that needs to perform some initialization after it has been constructed, we can use the @PostConstruct annotation on a method to achieve this:

@Service
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    private MyRepository myRepository;

    @PostConstruct
    public void init() {
        //initialization code
    }
}

In this example, the init() method will be called after the MyService bean has been constructed and all its dependencies have been injected.

The @PreDestroy annotation can be used to indicate a method that should be called before the bean is destroyed. For example, if we have a MyService class that needs to perform some cleanup before it is destroyed, we can use the @PreDestroy annotation on a method to achieve this:

@Service
public class MyService {
    @Autowired
    private MyRepository myRepository;

    @PreDestroy
    public void cleanup() {
        //cleanup code
    }
}

In this example, the cleanup() method will be called before the MyService bean is destroyed.

It's also worth noting that Spring also provides other annotations for controlling the bean life cycle, such as @Bean and @Scope. The @Bean annotation is used to define a bean, while the @Scope annotation is used to define the scope of a bean (e.g. singleton, prototype, etc.).

Best Practices

  • Use @PostConstruct to indicate a method that should be called after the bean is constructed and all its dependencies have been injected.

  • Use @PreDestroy to indicate a method that should be called before the bean is destroyed.

  • Use @Bean and @Scope to control the bean life cycle.

In conclusion, Dependency Injection, Circular References, and Spring Bean Life Cycle are all important concepts to understand when developing applications with Spring. By understanding these concepts and using the appropriate annotations, you can write more maintainable and testable code. Use these examples and best practices as a guide, and you'll be well on your way to mastering these topics.

The above article is an extensive guide on Dependency Injection, Circular References, and Spring Bean Life Cycle. It's a great resource for developers who want to learn more about these topics or want to improve their skills. The code examples in this article are in Java, but the concepts can be applied to other programming languages as well.

 
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