Ruby on Rails to Spring

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How to convert from Ruby on Rails to Spring

Transitioning from Ruby on Rails to Spring can be a daunting task, especially for developers who are proficient in Ruby on Rails but lack experience with Spring. This guide aims to provide a step-by-step approach to converting your Ruby on Rails application to a Spring-based application. Understanding the key differences and best practices will smooth the migration process.

Understanding the Frameworks: Ruby on Rails vs. Spring

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a web application framework written in Ruby focusing on convention over configuration (CoC) and the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern. RoR simplifies the development process by providing several built-in functions and helpers.

Spring Framework

Spring is a comprehensive framework for enterprise Java development. Unlike RoR, Spring provides a more extensive range of functionalities—including dependency injection, aspect-oriented programming, and transaction management. Spring is modular, offering flexibility to choose only the parts you need for your application.

Preparing for Conversion

Code Structure

One of the first steps in converting a Ruby on Rails application to a Spring application is understanding and mapping the equivalent structure.

  • Controllers in RoR map to Controllers in Spring MVC.
  • Models in RoR are analogous to Entities and Repositories in Spring Data.
  • Views in RoR typically translate to Thymeleaf or JSPs in Spring MVC.
  • Configurations in RoR (routes, initializers) translate to Java configuration classes and properties files.

Converting Controllers

In Ruby on Rails, controllers inherit from ApplicationController, and actions are defined as methods within these controllers.

class UsersController < ApplicationController
  def index
    @users = User.all

In Spring MVC, a controller is a POJO (Plain Old Java Object) annotated with @Controller. Each method is annotated with @RequestMapping to define the URL mappings.

public class UserController {

  private UserRepository userRepository;

  public String index(Model model) {
    model.addAttribute("users", userRepository.findAll());
    return "users/index";

Converting Models

Ruby on Rails uses Active Record for its ORM, where the model classes directly deal with database operations.

class User < ApplicationRecord

In Spring, the model class is annotated with JPA annotations, and you generally create a repository interface.

Model class:

public class User {
    private Long id;

    private String name;

    // Getters and Setters

Repository interface:

public interface UserRepository extends JpaRepository<User, Long> {

Converting Views

Rails views use embedded Ruby (ERB) for template rendering.

<% @users.each do |user| %>
  <p><%= %></p>
<% end %>

In Spring MVC, you might use Thymeleaf or JSP for rendering views.

Thymeleaf example:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html xmlns:th="">
  <div th:each="user : ${users}">
    <p th:text="${}">User Name</p>

Configuration and Routing

Ruby on Rails

In RoR, routes are defined in the config/routes.rb file.

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  resources :users


In Spring, routing is typically defined using annotations within controller methods.

public String index(Model model) {
  model.addAttribute("users", userRepository.findAll());
  return "users/index";

Database Migrations

Rails uses Active Record migrations to manage database schema changes.

class CreateUsers < ActiveRecord::Migration[6.0]
  def change
    create_table :users do |t|
      t.string :name

In Spring, you can use Liquibase or Flyway for database migrations.

Liquibase example:

<changeSet id="1" author="author">
    <createTable tableName="users">
        <column name="id" type="BIGINT" autoIncrement="true">
            <constraints primaryKey="true"/>
        <column name="name" type="VARCHAR(255)"/>
        <column name="created_at" type="timestamp"/>

Configuration Files

Ruby on Rails

Rails uses YAML configuration files for database settings and other environment-specific configurations.

  adapter: postgresql
  database: myapp_development
  username: myuser
  password: mypassword


Spring uses properties or YAML files for configuration.


Final Thoughts

Converting a Ruby on Rails application to Spring requires an in-depth understanding of both frameworks. While the transition involves migrating controllers, models, views, configurations, and routing, the underlying principles of MVC remain consistent. By following this guide, you'll be better equipped to undertake the migration process, ensuring a smoother transition and a robust Spring-based application.

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