Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spring 3: Spring Expression Language - SpEL

I realized that I have covered most of the major functions in the Spring 3 release, but completely overlooked SpEL. Now even though I am a huge Spring fan, all this functionality does actually scare me a little bit. To often have I seen people hang themselves with awesome, innocent looking ropes just like this one. Soon there will be some project that needs to be "dynamic" and some person/consultant/architect/developer will have this amazing idea and place code somewhere they can edit it externally. Then this SpEL can read this and "dynamically do stuff"...
(I am pretty sure that I have been that "person" somewhere in my career, it all feels horribly familiar.)
And all of that only comes at the price of some poor developers' sanity trying to maintain it. To be fair, this view is purely based on personal experiences and maybe slightly unjustified, but I have seen my share of good ideas gone bad in my time and it feels like SpEL is wide open for misuse.

Putting my concerns aside and refocusing on: it's something new , it's shiny and Spring-made so I obviously can't resist trying it out.
First I go digging for information to answer: "What is SpEL, Spring Expression Language?"
A quick summary of what I find:
It is an expression language that supports querying and manipulating objects at runtime. It can be used as part of the standard configuration, XML or annotation based, but can also be evaluated directly by the application code. It allows you to overcome the limitation of using only fixed values. It can be used for bean definitions in both XML- and annotation-based configurations. There is a facility to access system, environment and context parameters.

I have just covered thing that I would generally need or have run into... there is however quite a bit more information within the Spring documentation

So using Maven first thing I needed was to add following:



Using SpEL in Code:

Below I have examples code of: Setting a value, Calling a constructor, creating variables, calling a static function, all the basic operators, the instanceof operator and even the ternary if.

Using SpEL in XML Config: As with the Java code, here is the same functionality within you Spring application XML.

Using SpEL in Annotations:
And then again will the @Value annotation.

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