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Supercharge Your Development with Spring Boot Dev Tools

When it comes to Java development, speed and efficiency are paramount. This is where Spring Boot Dev Tools comes into play, offering a set of handy utilities designed to enhance your development experience. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting with Spring Boot, these tools can significantly boost your productivity. In this article, we’ll explore what Spring Boot Dev Tools are, why you should use them, and provide some practical examples to get you started.

What are Spring Boot Dev Tools?

Spring Boot Dev Tools is a module within the Spring Boot framework that provides a collection of development-time features aimed at making the application development process smoother. These tools are not included in the production-ready JAR file; they are intended to be used only during development. When you run your Spring Boot application in the development environment, Dev Tools can automatically detect changes and restart the application, among other useful functions.

Why Use Spring Boot Dev Tools?

1. Automatic Restart

One of the most significant advantages of Dev Tools is the automatic restart feature. Traditionally, after making changes to your code, you would need to stop the application, rebuild it, and then restart it to see the changes take effect. With Dev Tools, this process is streamlined. When you save changes to your files, Dev Tools will automatically restart the application, saving you valuable time and effort.

2. Hot Swapping

Dev Tools also supports hot swapping. This means that certain changes to your code, such as method bodies, can be injected into the running application without a full restart. While not all changes can be hot swapped, it can be a handy feature for quick iterations and testing.

3. Improved Developer Experience

By reducing the need for manual restarts and providing quick feedback on changes, Dev Tools significantly improves the developer experience. You can focus more on coding and less on the mechanics of running and testing your application.

Getting Started with Spring Boot Dev Tools

Let’s dive into some examples to see Dev Tools in action.

1. Setting up Dev Tools in Your Project

First, you need to include Dev Tools in your Spring Boot project. In your pom.xml (if you’re using Maven) or build.gradle (if using Gradle), add the following dependency:


2. Automatic Restart

Create a simple Spring Boot application with a REST controller:

public class HelloController {

    public String hello() {
        return "Hello, Dev Tools!";

Now, run your application. Navigate to http://localhost:8080/hello in your browser, and you should see “Hello, Dev Tools!”.

Next, make a change in the HelloController, perhaps modifying the return string. Save the file, and without restarting the application manually, refresh the browser. You should see the updated message without needing to restart the server.

3. Hot Swapping

Hot swapping allows you to change method bodies without a full restart. Let’s modify our HelloController:

public String hello() {
    return "Hello, Dev Tools! This message was hot-swapped!";

Save the file, and then navigate to http://localhost:8080/hello again. You’ll see the updated message without restarting the server.

4. Additional Configuration (Optional)

You can configure Dev Tools further in your or application.yml file:

# Enable/disable dev tools

# Set a specific file pattern to trigger a restart

# Set a specific delay in milliseconds for the restart

These settings allow you to customize when Dev Tools triggers a restart, which files to monitor, and the delay between checks.


Spring Boot Dev Tools is a valuable addition to any Spring Boot project, offering automatic restarts, hot swapping, and an overall improved development experience. By reducing the time spent on manual tasks like restarting the server, developers can focus more on writing code and iterating quickly.

Integrating Dev Tools into your project is straightforward and can lead to significant time savings, especially in larger applications. Whether you’re a solo developer or part of a team, consider adding Spring Boot Dev Tools to your toolkit to supercharge your development process.

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