Java Spring vs Play

Choosing between Java Spring and Play, the two leading powerful Java frameworks for building large web applications can be pretty challenging. This article aims to explain and compare their functionality to help you make the best decision for your project.

What is the Java Spring Framework

Released in 2002, Java Spring remains one of the most popular choices of an application framework for handling Java-based web applications. Java Spring is also an inversion of the control container.

The greatest emphasis of this open-source framework is put on the massive and complex web applications while the framework itself is particularly flexible and scalable and it is often used with the Enterprise JavaBeans model.

What Does Java Spring Do?

The major advantage of the Java Spring framework is the simplicity of developing complex enterprise applications. With this framework, developers can leverage Spring Inversion of Control, Spring Core as well as Spring AOP allowing successful integration of app components. In addition to it, Java Spring utilizes special POJO classes saving a lot of time and effort on dealing with the Enterprise container. It also results in a faster and simpler testing procedure.

The Spring framework has a modular architecture that provides developers with a choice of the functionality of certain modules, for example, Spring JDBC, Spring MVC, Spring Transactions, or Spring ORM according to the requirements of a project. The usage of Java Spring will not restrict you from applying any other Java frameworks whether it is Hibernate, Struts, or anything else.

Furthermore, Java Spring has undergone standardization and it has constantly been innovated to provide developers with up-to-date solutions while there is a massive community for support, innovation, and learning exchange.

Java Spring vs Play — What’s Best for Your Web App? 1

Best Java Spring Apps Examples

Java Spring is one of the favorite choices of many successful companies relying on web apps. Some examples of the hundreds of companies that use the framework include:

  • Deutsche Post IT-Services GmbH 
  • (DHL) uses Java Spring as its backend technology
  • Deutsche Kreditbank AG offers its online services through the web app built with Java Spring. 
  • Bla-Bla-Car
  • Deleokorea
  • Intuit, MIT
  • Kingsmen Software
  • Fitbit

What is the Play Framework?

Play is used with both Java and Scala and is dedicated to the development of high-velocity scalable web applications. Play is built on Akka, which allows programmers to create web apps with optimized performance, especially when it comes to efficient resource consumption including memory, CPU, and threads.

This framework has been on the market since 2007.

What Does Play Do?

Play aims to make web and mobile development as quick and easy as possible. It provides its users with access to the embedded Java libraries and tools for web development and is using a “just-hit-refresh” workflow with a special compile and reload mechanism for viewing the modifications of the code on the go. Furthermore, this framework supports just-in-time compiling enabling runtime translation of the changes into the code. This saves a lot of time and effort.

A variety of modern protocols and components such as WebSockets, Server-Sent Events, Comet, HTTP, JSON, and REST API are integrated with the framework while asset compilers will allow you to work with other programming languages, for example, with LESS and CoffeeScript.

Additionally, Play has an advanced multi-core architecture for boosting the performance of web apps even under the pressure of extensive concurrent usage. Optimized performance with Play can be achieved without utilizing the technology of multi-threading. At the same time, this framework is equipped with asynchronous and non-blocking I/O boosting parallel data fetch which makes the performance of the web apps developed with Play lightning fast.

Finally, Play is compatible with cloud development and the newest version of this framework has its own testing tools.

Best Play Apps Examples

According to the reports, a number of large online platforms rely on the Play framework. The majority of these companies are specializing in information technologies, however, there are also many enterprises that have chosen this framework for their e-commerce platforms.

The most well-known e-commerce companies that have deployed Play are:

  • Coursera
  • Zalando
  • Glovo

Other prominent examples of the online platforms utilizing the Play framework are The Guardian and LinkedIn.

Java Spring vs Play

Both Play and Java Spring look very promising, however, their design differs significantly, although both frameworks are dedicated to web app development. To understand them even better, it is worth looking at the comparison of the Play framework and Java Spring.

Java Spring vs Play — What’s Best for Your Web App?

Pros and Cons of Java Spring

Java Spring incorporates powerful programming principles and patterns such as Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control increasing the flexibility of development. This framework can be used along with any other Java frameworks allowing programmers to work on cloud-based microservices featured with reactiveness and security, while it has proved to be especially powerful for building complex enterprise-level applications using massive flows of data.

One of the most important cons of Java Spring is its certain vulnerability to security bridges. The most recently revealed vulnerability CVE-2022-22965 Spring4Shell is of the remote code execution type. On the other hand, Java Spring developers found and fixed this vulnerability quickly. Its large and active community is an asset and helps keep the codebase secure. 

Another disadvantage of the Java Spring framework is its complexity. For developers, it means the framework requires extra effort for learning and deploying its technology while for enterprises, it can generate higher costs of building an app.

Pros and Cons of Play

A crucial advantage of Play is its effective design model based on Akka with non-blocking I/O and stateless web tier for predicted scalability.

Play is also featured with an optimized and integrated design dedicated to web development with extensive possibilities for mobile applications. This framework is RESTful with JSON as its first class object and has an asset compiler for different languages. Furthermore, web app development is enhanced by Big Data and NoSQL support while facilitating a massive Java ecosystem with its useful libraries including Maven as well as special Play plugins.

The process of development with Play can be particularly fast due to its “just hit refresh” workflow.

One of the major downsides of the Play framework is its backward incompatibility. Its developers tend to perform root changes even in the case of minor modifications creating large discrepancies between the consecutive versions of the framework. Many developers working on web apps find it rather cost-ineffective to refactor their projects and relearn the functionality of a new framework version on a regular basis.

Another common issue of the Play framework is the fact it is more optimized for Scala than for Java and can force Scala structures into the Java code making it rather confusing.


Both frameworks are designed for effective web app development, however, Play is more efficient for projects that have to be completed within a short timeframe, while Java Spring is particularly successful for applications with planned growth. Java Spring has well-established practices for such projects while Play reduces language-level integration for reusability that is more helpful for fast-paced projects. Note that Spring is dedicated only to Java, while Play is more tailored for Scala even though it can be used with Java as well.

Remember the disadvantages of these frameworks as well as the fact some types of small web apps can be successfully developed without any frameworks whatsoever.

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Java Spring vs Play — What’s Best for Your Web App? - marcel-100px Hi, I’m Marcin, COO of Applandeo

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