A short guide to the latest Spring and Spring Boot versions, as well as information on the release cycle and maintenance windows.
What is the latest Spring Framework version?
The current stable version, as of March 2021, is Spring 5.3.4. You can always find new version announcements on https://github.com/spring-projects/spring-framework/releases.
What is the latest Spring Boot version?
The current stable version, as of March 2021, is Spring Boot 2.4.3. You can always find new version announcements on https://github.com/spring-projects/spring-boot/releases.
What Java version does the latest Spring Boot support?
Spring Boot 2.4.3 (and therefore the latest Spring Framework 5.3.4) supports Java 15 while also remaining compatible with Java 11 and 8.
What Spring version should I use?
Choosing a Spring version is relatively simple:
If you are building new Spring Boot projects, the version of Spring you are using is already pre-defined for you. If you are using Spring Boot 2.4.x, for example, you will be using Spring 5.3.x (though, in theory you could override this).
If you are using plain Spring in a greenfield project, you can obviously choose whatever version you want, which will usually be the latest one.
If you are using Spring in a legacy project, you can always think about upgrading to a newer Spring version if that makes sense from a business perspective (or if you want to respect the EOL announcements)- Spring versions have a high amount of compatibility (see next paragraph).
Realistically, you’ll find Spring versions 4.x-5.x used by companies, though the rare, legacy 3.x (initial release: 2009) Spring project also pops up.
How often do new versions of Spring get released? How long are they supported?
Here’s a nice, little graph showing you Spring’s version history:
You can see that the initial Spring release was ~17 years ago, with major framework versions being released every 3-4 year. This does not account for maintenance branches, however.
Spring 4.3 for example, has been released in June 2016, and will be supported until the end of 2020.
Support for Spring 5.0 and 5.1 will be cut off at the end of 2020, in favor of Spring 5.2 and Spring 5.3, which have been released in September 2019 and October 2020, respectively.
Spring 5.2.x will be supported until the end of 2021.
Spring 5.3.x will be supported until 2024.
See the Spring Framework Versions page for all support timelines.
What are the differences between Spring versions?
Similar to the JVM, Spring versions are insanely backwards compatible, which means you can (essentially) still run your Spring 1.0 xml files with the latest Spring 5.0 (though I admittedly haven’t tried that out, yet). In addition, upgrading from, say 3 to 5 is also possible with a bit of effort (see this migration guide).
So, in general, newer Spring versions build on top of the older Spring versions and have minimal breaking changes (compared with, say Python 2 vs 3). So, all core concepts you learned for Spring version 3 or 4 are still true for Spring version 5.
You can get a great overview of what changed over the last 7 years in the individual Spring versions, here:
To give you an executive summary:
The core (dependency injection, transaction management etc.) always stays the same or gets extended. Spring, however, goes with time and offers support for newer Java language versions, test framework enhancements, Websockets, reactive programming, etc.
Do you have any more questions regarding Spring versions? Let me know in the comments!
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