SpringIDE - Using Spring in Eclipse
If you go to the Spring Explorer view, through Window/Show View/Other... you can add Config Files, and Config Sets, to view and validate. As you will see in this dialog there are other views available too
In this view you can easily add in Config Sets or single Config Files. If you right click on the Config File and choose View Graph, you get to see a nice representation (using Eclipse's GEF)
of your Spring configuration file - in this example there's not a whole load to see, but in more complicated
configuration this can be very useful.
You can also easily validate your XML, to ensure there's no typos or bad XML in there, with the results displayed
in the Problems View.
I don't want to make assumptions of the knowledge levels of any readers, so the following are some brief definitions of technolgies and terms that I have mentioned over the course of this article.
Spring is a layered Java/J2EE framework. It can be used in any J2EE server, and you can also use it in standalone Java applications, to use some of it's techniques in your own code. So, Spring is a lightweight container for configuration and wiring of application objects.
Typically it's used as an alternative to EJB. As an MVC framework, it supports many technologies for generating views
(JSF, Velocity, Tiles).
Spring Web Flow
Spring Web Flow is a web application controller framework, allowing the modelling of user actions as high-level modules called flows, runnable in any environment.
Steven Devijver has written a great article explaining what Web Flow actually provides and how it works. The project page also provides a good overview.
The aim of Aspect Oriented Programming is to aid programmers in the seperation of concerns - breaking a program
into distinct pieces of functionality - improving modularity of code.
The best example of AOP is logging, where a logging module could crosscut existing code.
Thus, AOP provides a good level of maintainability. To find out more, the AspectJ page is a good start.
Spring AOP is integrated into the Spring configuration, so that you can AOP-enable any object that is managed by the container, allowing you to have aspects in your code, without the traditional AspectJ compiler.
The Eclipse Graphical Editing Framework (http://www.eclipse.org/gef/) allows developers to take an existing application model and create a rich graphical editor from it. GEF uses an MVC architecture enabling simple changes to be applied to the model from the view.
Struts & Spring
The following is a good article dealing with integrating your Struts application with Spring.
Spring isn't the type of framework to replace something like Struts, more like it compliments it.