Getting Started with Spring Content

What you'll build

You'll build an application that uses Spring Content to build a simple web-based document list.

What you'll need

  • About 30 minutes

  • A favorite text editor or IDE

  • JDK 1.8 or later

  • Maven 3.0+

You can also import the code from this guide as well as view the web page directly into Spring Tool Suite (STS) and work your way through it from there.

How to complete this guide

Like most Spring Getting Started guides, you can start form scratch and complete each step, or you can bypass basic setup steps that are already familiar to you. Either way, you end up with working code.

To start from scratch, move on to Build with Maven.

To skip the basics, do the following:

  • Download and unzip the source repository for this guide, or clone it using Git: git clone

  • cd into spring-content-gettingstarted/spring-content-fs/initial

  • Jump ahead to Define a simple entity. When you’re finished, you can check your results against the code in spring-content-gettingstarted/spring-content-fs/complete.

Build with Maven

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with Maven, refer to Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create a directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/gettingstarted on *nix systems:

∟ src
   ∟ main
       ∟ java
           ∟ gettingstarted
       ∟ resources
           ∟ static


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>





		<!-- Test dependencies -->


We add several dependencies:-

  • Spring Boot Starter Web provides the web server framework

  • Spring Boot Starter Data JPA will provide a relational database to store the metadata of our files. In this case we are using the H2 in-memory database

  • Spring Boot Starter Data REST will provide REST endpoints for our File metadata

  • Spring Boot Starter Content FS will provide a Filesystem-based store for the content of each file and manage the association with an Entity

Define a simple Entity

Let's define a simple Entity to represent a File.


package gettingstarted;

import java.util.Date;

import javax.persistence.Entity;
import javax.persistence.GeneratedValue;
import javax.persistence.GenerationType;
import javax.persistence.Id;

import lombok.Getter;
import lombok.NoArgsConstructor;
import lombok.Setter;

import org.springframework.content.commons.annotations.ContentId;
import org.springframework.content.commons.annotations.ContentLength;

public class File {

	@GeneratedValue(strategy = GenerationType.AUTO)
	private Long id;
	private String name;
	private Date created = new Date();
	private String summary;

	@ContentId private String contentId;
	@ContentLength private long contentLength;
	private String mimeType = "text/plain";

As you would expect we created a standard JPA Entity to capture some metadata about our file; name and summary. In addition, because we will be serving these files over the web, we also record mimeType so that we can instruct the browser correctly.

We then add two annotated Spring Content fields; @ContentId and @ContentLength. @ContentId allows us to associate a stream of binary data with an Entity and @ContentLength records the length of that stream. These will be automatically managed by Spring Content.

Create a File Repository

Next, as you would also expect, we create a CrudRepository for handling File entities and we export it as a @RepositoryRestResource so, for the cost of writing just one interface and annotating it, we get the ability to create, read, update and delete File entities using REST endpoints.

NB. For more information on Spring Data JPA and Spring Data REST see their respective getting started guides.


package gettingstarted;


@RepositoryRestResource(path="files", collectionResourceRel="files")
public interface FileRepository extends JpaRepository<File, Long> {


Create a File Content Store

Similarly, we then create a ContentStore for handling content associated with the File entity.


package gettingstarted;

import org.springframework.content.commons.repository.ContentStore;

public interface FileContentStore extends ContentStore<File, String> {

Let's investigate this interface:-

  • ContentStore provides several methods for handling content; setContent, getContent and unsetContent

  • The dependency com.github.paulcwarren:spring-content-fs-boot-starter provides a Filesystem-based implementation of this interface and Spring Content auto-configuration ensures that this implementation will be used wherever the FileContentRepository is @Autowired.

However, unlike our FileRepository we haven't annotated this as a StoreRestResource and therefore we don't automatically get REST endpoints for handling content. This annotation does exist (and is the topic of our next tutorial) but, for now, we have to roll our own REST endpoints.

Create a File Controller

Let's create these endpoints with a simple Controller class.


package gettingstarted;

import java.util.Optional;

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.http.HttpHeaders;
import org.springframework.http.HttpStatus;
import org.springframework.http.ResponseEntity;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.PathVariable;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMethod;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestParam;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RestController;
import org.springframework.web.multipart.MultipartFile;

public class FileContentController {

	@Autowired private FileRepository filesRepo;
	@Autowired private FileContentStore contentStore;
	@RequestMapping(value="/files/{fileId}", method = RequestMethod.PUT)
	public ResponseEntity<?> setContent(@PathVariable("fileId") Long id, @RequestParam("file") MultipartFile file) 
			throws IOException {

		Optional<File> f = filesRepo.findById(id);
		if (f.isPresent()) {

			contentStore.setContent(f.get(), file.getInputStream());

			// save updated content-related info;

			return new ResponseEntity<Object>(HttpStatus.OK);
		return null;

	@RequestMapping(value="/files/{fileId}", method = RequestMethod.GET)
	public ResponseEntity<?> getContent(@PathVariable("fileId") Long id) {

		Optional<File> f = filesRepo.findById(id);
		if (f.isPresent()) {
			InputStreamResource inputStreamResource = new InputStreamResource(contentStore.getContent(f.get()));
			HttpHeaders headers = new HttpHeaders();
			headers.set("Content-Type", f.get().getMimeType());
			return new ResponseEntity<Object>(inputStreamResource, headers, HttpStatus.OK);
		return null;

Let's explain this class.

  • It's a standard Spring Controller with two request mapped methods, one for setting content and the other for getting content.

  • Both setContent and getContent methods inject themselves into the URI space of the FileRepository, namely /files/{fileId}, but handle all GETs and PUTs that are aplication/hal+json based; i.e. content.

  • We inject our FileRepository and our FileContentStore. Respectively, Spring Boot will ensure real implementations are injected (based on what Spring Data and Spring Content modules are found on the class path).

  • setContent uses the FileRepository to fetch the File entity using the given fileId and then uses the FileContentStore to save the given file input stream.

  • Similarly, getContent uses the FileRepository to fetch the File entity using the given fileId and again use the FileContentStore to fetch the associated content and stream it back to the client as the response. We also use previosuly saved metdata contentLength and mimeType to set http headers appropriately. This will mean that browsers can handle the content correctly by launching the relevant desktop application.

Create Web Client

Now let's create a really simple angular web front-end for our document list.


<!doctype html>
<html ng-app="filesApp">
    <script src=""></script>
    <script src="files.js"></script>
    <div ng-controller="FilesListController as filesList">
	    <section style="display: table; width: 80%">
		  <header style="display: table-row;">
		    <div style="display: table-cell;">Name</div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;">Length</div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;">Created</div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;">Summary</div>
		  <div style="display: table-row;" ng-repeat="file in filesList.files">
		    <div style="display: table-cell;"><a href="{{filesList.getHref(file)}}" type={{file.mimeType}} download={{}}>{{}}</a></div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;"><label>{{file.contentLength}}</label></div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;"><label>{{file.created}}</label></div>
		    <div style="display: table-cell;"><label>{{file.summary}}</label></div>
	    <h2>New File</h2>
	    <input type="file" id="file" name="file"/>
	    <input type="summary" id="summary" name="summary" ng-model="filesList.summary" placeholder="Summary"/>
		<button ng-click="filesList.upload()">Upload</button>

This HTML presents a simple list of files using an ng-repeat directive and contains a simple form allowing new files to be uploaded.

All the interesting code is in the code-behind file so add the following code behind to src/main/resources/static/files.js

angular.module('filesApp', [])
  .controller('FilesListController', function($http) {
    var filesList = this;
    filesList.files = []; 
    filesList.getFilesList = function() {
            success(function(data, status, headers, config) {
                if (data._embedded != undefined) {
        			filesList.files = [];
                    angular.forEach(data._embedded.files, function(file) {
    filesList.getHref = function(file) {
    	return file._links["self"].href

    filesList.upload = function() {
    	var f = document.getElementById('file').files[0];
    	var file = {name:, summary: filesList.summary};
    	$'/files/', file).
    		then(function(response) {
	    		var fd = new FormData();
	            fd.append('file', f);
	            return $http.put(response.headers("Location"), fd, {
	                transformRequest: angular.identity,
	                headers: {'Content-Type': undefined}
	        .then(function(response) {
    			filesList.title = "";
    			filesList.keywords = "";
    			document.getElementById('file').files[0] = undefined;

This angular controller has the following functions:-

  • getFilesList queries our FileRepository via its REST endpoint files/ and populates filesList.files (presented by the ng-repeat directive in the HTML)

  • getHref returns a file's content hyperlink files/{fileId} (that ultimately calls FileContentController.getContent)

  • upload uploads a new File by first POSTing to the FileRepository REST endpoints /files and once created PUTing the actual content to the Files content REST endpoint files/{fileId} (that ultimately calls FileContentController.setContent)

Create an Application class

Our simple document list app is now complete. All that remains is to add the usual Spring Boot Application class.


package gettingstarted;

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;

public class SpringContentApplication {

	public static void main(String[] args) {, args);

Build an executable JAR

If you are using Maven, you can run the application using mvn spring-boot:run. Or you can build the JAR file with mvn clean package and run the JAR by typing:

java -jar target/gettingstarted-spring-content-fs-0.0.1.jar

And then point your browser at:-


and you should see something like this:-

Spring Content Webapp

Exercise the application by uploading a range of new files and viewing them. Viewed files will be downloaded and open in the appropriate editor.


Congratulations! You’ve written a simple application that uses Spring Content to manage streams of binary data - without writing any specific file access code. What's more by just changing the type of the spring-content boot-starter project on the classpath you can switch from a file-based implementation to a different implementation altogether.

Spring Content supports the following implementations:-

  • Spring Content Filesystem; stores content as Files on the Filesystem (as used in this tutorial)

  • Spring Content S3; stores content as Objects in Amazon S3

  • Spring Content JPA; stores content as BLOBs in the database

  • Spring Content MongoDB; stores content as Resources in Mongo's GridFS

Look Forward

In this tutorial we built a simple document list web application using Spring Content.

The majority of the work on the server-side was writing the Spring controller for handling the Content. Check out our next getting started guide where we'll use the companion library Spring Content REST to automatically export these REST endpoints for our FileContentStore saving ourselves even more work.