Spring 3.1 Environment Profiles

Spring 3.1 Environment Profiles


Spring 3.1 now includes support for the long awaited environment aware feature called profiles. Now we can activate profiles in our application, which allows us to define beans by deployment regions, such as “dev”, “qa”, “production”, “cloud”, etc.

We also can use this feature for other purposes: defining profiles for performance testing scenarios such as “cached” or “lazyload”.

Essential Tokens

Spring profiles are enabled using the case insensitive tokens spring.profiles.active or spring_profiles_active.

This token can be set as:

  • an Environment Variable
  • a JVM Property
  • Web Parameter
  • Programmatic

Spring also looks for the token, spring.profiles.default, which can be used to set the default profile(s) if none are specified with spring.profiles.active.

Grouping Beans by Profile

Spring 3.1 provides nested bean definitions, providing the ability to define beans for various environments:

<beans profiles="dev,qa">
  <bean id="dataSource" class="..."/>
  <bean id="messagingProvider" class="..."/>

Nested <beans> must appear last in the file.
Beans that are used in all profiles are declared in the outer <beans> as we always have, such as Service classes.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"

    <bean id="businessService"

    <beans profile="dev,qa">
        <bean id="constructorBean"
              c:myString="Constructor Set"/>

        <bean id="setterBean"
            <property name="myString" value="Setter Set"/>

    <beans profile="prod">
        <bean id="setterBean"
            <property name="myString" value="Setter Set - in Production YO!"/>

If we put a single <bean> declaration at below any nested <beans> tags we will get the exception org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: cvc-complex-type.2.4.a: Invalid content was found starting with element 'bean'.

Multiple beans can now share the same XML “id”
In a typical scenario, we would want the DataSource bean to be called dataSource in both all profiles. Spring now allow us to create multiple beans within an XML file with the same ID providing they are defined in different <beans> sets. In other words, ID uniqueness is only enforced within each <beans> set.

Automatic Profile Discovery (Programmatic)

We can configure a class to set our profile(s) during application startup by implementing the appropriate interface. For example, we may configure an application to set different profiles based on where the application is deployed – in CloudFoundry or running as a local web application. In the web.xml file we can include an Servlet context parameter, contextInitializerClasses, to bootstrap this class:


The Initializer class

package com.gordondickens.springthreeone.services;

import org.cloudfoundry.runtime.env.CloudEnvironment;
import org.slf4j.Logger;
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory;
import org.springframework.context.ApplicationContextInitializer;
import org.springframework.context.ConfigurableApplicationContext;

public class CloudApplicationContextInitializer implements
  ApplicationContextInitializer<ConfigurableApplicationContext> {
  private static final Logger logger = LoggerFactory

  public void initialize(ConfigurableApplicationContext applicationContext) {
    CloudEnvironment env = new CloudEnvironment();
    if (env.getInstanceInfo() != null) {
      logger.info("Application running in cloud. API '{}'",
    } else {
      logger.info("Application running local");

Annotation Support for JavaConfig

If we are are using JavaConfig to define our beans, Spring 3.1 includes the @Profile annotation for enabling bean config files by profile(s).

package com.gordondickens.springthreeone.configuration;

import com.gordondickens.springthreeone.SimpleBean;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Bean;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Configuration;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Profile;

public class AppConfig {
  public SimpleBean simpleBean() {
    SimpleBean simpleBean = new SimpleBean();
    simpleBean.setMyString("Ripped Pants");
    return simpleBean;

Testing with XML Configuration

With XML configuration we can simply add the annotation @ActiveProfiles to the JUnit test class. To include multiple profiles, use the format @ActiveProfiles(profiles = {"dev", "prod"})

package com.gordondickens.springthreeone;

import org.junit.Test;
import org.junit.runner.RunWith;
import org.springframework.beans.factory.NoSuchBeanDefinitionException;
import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.context.ApplicationContext;
import org.springframework.test.context.ActiveProfiles;
import org.springframework.test.context.ContextConfiguration;
import org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner;
import static junit.framework.Assert.assertNotNull;
import static junit.framework.Assert.assertNull;

@ActiveProfiles(profiles = "dev")
public class DevBeansTest {

  ApplicationContext applicationContext;

  public void testDevBeans() {
    SimpleBean simpleBean = 
      applicationContext.getBean("constructorBean", SimpleBean.class);

  @Test(expected = NoSuchBeanDefinitionException.class)
  public void testProdBean() {
    SimpleBean prodBean = applicationContext.getBean("prodBean", SimpleBean.class);

Testing with JavaConfig

JavaConfig allows us to configure Spring with or without XML configuration. If we want to test beans that are defined in a Configuration class we configure our test with the loader and classes arguments of the @ContextConfiguration annotation.

package com.gordondickens.springthreeone.configuration;

import com.gordondickens.springthreeone.SimpleBean;
import org.junit.Test;
import org.junit.runner.RunWith;
import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.test.context.ActiveProfiles;
import org.springframework.test.context.ContextConfiguration;
import org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner;
import org.springframework.test.context.support.AnnotationConfigContextLoader;

import static org.junit.Assert.assertNotNull;

@ContextConfiguration(classes = AppConfig.class, loader = AnnotationConfigContextLoader.class)
@ActiveProfiles(profiles = "dev")
public class BeanConfigTest {

  SimpleBean simpleBean;

  public void testBeanAvailablity() {

Declarative Configuration in WEB.XML

If we desire to set the configuration in WEB.XML, this can be done with parameters on ContextLoaderListener.

Application Context


Log Results

DEBUG PropertySourcesPropertyResolver - Found key 'spring.profiles.active' in [servletContextInitParams] with type [String] and value 'DOUBLEUPMINT'

Environment Variable/JVM Parameter
Setting an environment variable can be done with either spring_profiles_default or spring_profiles_active. In Unix/Mac it would be export SPRING_PROFILES_DEFAULT=DEVELOPMENT for my local system.

We can also use the JVM “-D” parameter which also works with Maven when using Tomcat or Jetty plugins.

Note: Remember the tokens are NOT case sensitive and can use periods or underscores as separators. For Unix systems, you need to use the underscore, as above.

Logging of system level properties DEBUG PropertySourcesPropertyResolver - Found key 'spring.profiles.default' in [systemProperties] with type [String] and value 'dev,default'


Now we are equipped to activate various Spring bean sets, based on profiles we define. We can use  traditional, XML based configuration, or the features added to support JavaConfig originally introduced in Spring 3.0.

About Gordon

Technology enthusiast primarily focused on Java and Open Source projects. Spring Certified Professional and Trainer. http://twitter.com/gdickens http://linkedin.com/in/gordondickens http://github.com/gordonad
This entry was posted in JUnit, Spring, Spring Framework, Testing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Spring 3.1 Environment Profiles

  1. Pingback: Enterprise Spring Framework Best Practices – Part 3 – XML Config | Technophile Blog

  2. Matt Whipple says:

    In the XML, the profile specific beans need not be listed last in the file if you wrap them in an additional beans tag (similar to the wrapper for the profile specific but without a profile attribute). This is a trivial detail and putting the profile specific beans last is a sensible default, but it may be good to know if it helps keep XML files better organized.

  3. Pingback: Database Configuration with Spring 3.2 Environment Profiles | Technophile Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>