Enterprise Java

HOW-TO: Spring Boot and Thymeleaf with Maven

Spring Boot is a great piece of software allowing you to bootstrap Spring application within a few seconds. And it really works. As little configuration as possible to get started. And still possible to change the defaults. Let’s see how easily is to bootstrap Spring MVC with Thymeleaf and Maven and work with it in IntelliJ.

Basic setup Spring MVC + Thymeleaf with Maven

Make sure you have Maven 3 installed with the following command: mvn --version. Navigate to the directory you want to create your project in and execute Maven archtetype:

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeArtifactId=maven-archetype-quickstart -DgroupId=pl.codeleak.demos.sbt -DartifactId=spring-boot-thymeleaf -interactiveMode=false

The above command will create a new directory spring-boot-thymeleaf. Now you can import it to your IDE. In my case this is IntelliJ.

The next step is to configure the application. Open pom.xml and add a parent project: Values from the parent project will be the default for this project if they are left unspecified.

The next step is to add web dependencies. In order to do so, I firstly removed all previous dependencies (junit 3.8.1 actually) and added the below dependencies: Now, wait a second until Maven downloads the dependencies and run mvn dependency:tree to see what dependencies are included.

The next thing is a packaging configuration. Let’s add Spring Boot Maven Plugin: With the above steps, the basic configuration is ready. Now we can run the application. Spring Boot Maven Plugin offers two goals run and repackage. So let’s run the application by using mvn spring-boot:run. The command should produce Hello World!. Please note, that the App class has main method. So in fact, you can run this class in IntellJ (or any other IDE).

Hello World!

But wait a moment. This is not the web application. So let’s modify the App class so it is the entry point to the Spring Boot application:

package pl.codeleak.demos.sbt;
import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.EnableAutoConfiguration;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.ComponentScan;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Configuration;
public class App {
    public static void main(String[] args) {

In addition to the above, I would remove the AppTest as it sucks (it was created by the maven-archetype-quickstart)! Now we can run the application again to see what happens:

java.lang.IllegalStateException: Cannot find template location: class path resource [templates/] (please add some templates or check your Thymeleaf configuration)

Clear. Let’s add some Thymeleaf templates then.

Where to put Thymeleaf templates?

The default place for templates is … templates available in classpath. So we need to put at least one template into src/main/resources/templates directory. Let’s create a simple one: Running the application again will start embedded Tomcat with our application on port 8080:

Tomcat started on port(s): 8080/http

Ok. But something is missing. When we navigate to localhost:8080 we will see 404 page. Of course! There are no controllers yet. So let’s create one:

package pl.codeleak.demos.sbt.home;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
class HomeController {
    String index() {
        return "index";

After running the application again you should be able to see Hello Spring Boot! page!

Adding static resources

Similarly to Thymeleaf templates, static resources are served from classpath by default.
We may put CSS files to src/main/resources/css, JavaScript files to src/main/resources/js etc.

In Thymeleaf template we reference them like this:

Converting packaging from jar to war

But what if we want to run the application as plain web app and provide it as a war package? It is fairly easy with Spring Boot. Firstly, we need to convert type of packaging in pom.xml from jar to war (packaging element). Secondly – make that Tomcat is a provided dependency: The last step is to bootstrap a servlet configuration. Create Init class and inherit from SpringBootServletInitializer:

package pl.codeleak.demos.sbt;
import org.springframework.boot.builder.SpringApplicationBuilder;
import org.springframework.boot.context.web.SpringBootServletInitializer;
public class Init extends SpringBootServletInitializer {
    protected SpringApplicationBuilder configure(SpringApplicationBuilder application) {
        return application.sources(App.class);

We can check if the configuration works with Maven: mvn clean package. The war file should be created:

Building war: C:\Projects\demos\spring-boot-thymeleaf\target\spring-boot-thymeleaf-1.0-SNAPSHOT.war

Use Maven to start the application from war file directly:

java -jar target\spring-boot-thymeleaf-1.0-SNAPSHOT.war

Having a war project we can run the application in IntelliJ. After we changed the packaging, IntellJ should detect the changes in the project and add a web facet to it. The next step is to configure Tomcat server and run it. Navigate to Edit Configurations and add Tomcat server with exploded war artifact. Now you can run the application as any other web application.

Reloading Thymeleaf templates

Since the application running on local Tomcat server in IntelliJ we may reload static resources (e.g. css files) without restarting the server. But by default, Thymeleaf caches the templates, so in order to update Thymeleaf templates we need to change this behaviour. To do this, add application.properties to src/main/resources directory with the following property: spring.thymeleaf.cache=false. Restart the server and from now on you can reload Thymeleaf templates without restarting the server.

Changing the other configuration defaults

Cache configuration is not the only available configuration we can adjust. Please look at the ThymeleafAutoConfiguration class to see what other things you can change. To mention a few: spring.thymeleaf.mode, spring.thymeleaf.encoding.

Final thoughts

Spring Boot simplifies bootstrapping web application. With just couple of steps you have fully working web application that can be self-contained or can run in any servlet environment. Instead of learning Spring configuration you may focus on development. To learn further about Spring Boot read the manual and check Spring guides that provide many usefull getting started tutorials. Enjoy!


Reference: HOW-TO: Spring Boot and Thymeleaf with Maven from our JCG partner Rafal Borowiec at the Codeleak.pl blog.

Rafal Borowiec

Software developer, Team Leader, Agile practitioner, occasional blogger, lecturer. Open Source enthusiast, quality oriented and open-minded.
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9 years ago

You write “In Thymeleaf template we reference them like this:” but the actual example below is missing :(

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