Spring Framework vs Struts: Complete Comparison

Balazs Refi

June 24, 2024

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Spring Framework vs. Struts: Uncover the strengths, features, and use cases of these top Java web development frameworks.


Java is a top programming language, used by over 30% of developers worldwide. In Java web development, Spring and Struts are key frameworks, each offering distinct benefits and features.

Spring was created by VMware in October 2002 as an open-source Java framework. It's renowned for enhancing web application development through key features like dependency injection and inversion of control. These elements simplify creating flexible, portable, and testable applications. Notable tools within the Spring ecosystem include Spring Boot, favored by 62% of developers. 

Struts was introduced by Apache in May 2000 and updated to Struts 2, employs the MVC design pattern. This offers a clear method for building web applications. Despite being a heavyweight framework compared to Spring, Struts is chosen by over thousands of firms for their Java web development projects due to its ready-made classes that enhance flexibility and simplicity, particularly for servlets and J2EE applications.

This article provides a comprehensive comparison between two popular frameworks: the Spring Framework vs Struts, focusing on their features and differences to aid Java developers in making informed choices. Spring's lightweight, modular approach contrasts with Struts' structured style. Understanding their strengths helps developers select the best framework for their projects.

Introduction to Spring Framework and Struts

Spring and Struts are integral to Java web development. Each offers specialized capabilities and support. Understanding their histories elucidates their significance today.

History of Spring Framework

Spring significantly impacted Java's development landscape by introducing concepts like Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control, which streamline web application development. Spring's extensive ecosystem includes Spring Boot and Spring Security, making it a favorite among developers and companies.

History of Struts Framework

Struts, developed by the Apache Software Foundation, is known for its robust use of the MVC architecture, which separates application data, logic, and presentation layers. Its ready-made tools facilitate faster development and code clarity. Companies such as Red Hat appreciate its diverse view options and straightforward testing capabilities.

Key Features of Spring Framework

The Spring Framework excels with its robust tools for Java web development, making it a popular choice among developers.

1. IoC Container

Spring's IoC Container simplifies Dependency Injection, reducing code complexity and enhancing maintainability and testability.

2. Data Access Framework

Spring offers a top-tier data access framework integrating JDBC technologies and ORM tools like Hibernate, ensuring efficient transaction handling.

3. MVC Framework

Spring MVC facilitates web application development without relying on tag libraries, promoting clear code organization.

4. TestContext Framework

Spring's TestContext framework supports extensive integration and unit testing, ensuring comprehensive application testing.




IoC Container

Manages object dependencies

Reduces complexity, improves testability

Data Access Framework

Integrates with JDBC and Hibernate

Efficient transaction management, flexible data access

MVC Framework

Utilizes the MVC design pattern

Clear separation of concerns, quicker development

TestContext Framework

Provides testing support and annotations

Enhanced, comprehensive testing capabilities

Together, these features make the Spring Framework a highly flexible and preferred choice for Java web development, suitable for both small and large projects.

Key Features of Struts Framework

The Struts Framework is recognized for its well-organized architecture, crucial for Java web development.

1. POJO Forms and Actions

Struts supports Plain Old Java Objects (POJOs), improving code readability and reusability, and simplifying the development process.

2. Tag Support

Struts' tag library accelerates development by simplifying the creation of web components, resulting in faster development times and more responsive interfaces.

3. Seamless Integration

Struts integrates seamlessly with various technologies, enhancing the development cycle by avoiding compatibility issues.

4. View Technologies

Struts supports multiple view technologies such as JSP, Velocity, and Freemarker, providing developers with options for application customization.

Struts is a solid choice for developing and maintaining large-scale, legacy web applications.

Pros and Cons of Spring Framework

Spring, created by Pivotal Software in 2002, plays a pivotal role in Java web development. Here are its advantages and disadvantages:


  1. 1
    Lightweight Framework: Uses fewer resources, enhancing performance.
  2. 2
    Non-Invasive Design: Developers have freedom without being tied to specific classes.
  3. 3
    Comprehensive Ecosystem: Supports tools like Spring Boot and Spring Security, ideal for microservices and small web applications.
  4. 4
    Independent Layers: Modular architecture facilitates clean code and integration with other frameworks.
  5. 5
    Better Testing Capabilities: Easier and more effective testing.


  1. 1
    Steep Learning Curve: Complexity can be overwhelming for beginners.
  2. 2
    Configuration Overhead: Initial setup, especially with XML files, can be time-consuming.
  3. 3
    Security Considerations: Requires meticulous attention to security configurations.

Pros and Cons of Struts Framework

The Struts Framework also has its strengths and weaknesses:


  1. 1
    Ease of Integration: Works well with other technologies.
  2. 2
    Efficient Use of Annotations: Simplifies configuration.
  3. 3
    Utilizes OGNL: Simplifies coding.
  4. 4
    Heightened Testability: Enhances application testing.
  5. 5
    Simplifies Configuration Processes: Reduces manual coding effort.


  1. 1
    Less Accessible to Novice Developers: Complex for beginners.
  2. 2
    Poor Documentation: Lacks comprehensive guides.
  3. 3
    Frequent Compatibility Issues: Can be inconsistent across systems.
  4. 4
    Complex Background Processes: Difficult to manage.
  5. 5
    Confined to a Single Servlet: Limits flexibility.

Architecture Comparison: Spring Framework vs. Struts

Spring and Struts frameworks take distinct approaches in Java web development, catering to different application types.

Spring Framework Architecture

Spring Framework features a layered architecture, enhancing modularity through Dependency Injection (DI) and Inversion of Control (IoC). This architecture, divided into components such as Core Container, Spring AOP, Spring ORM, and Spring Web, promotes easy integration with Java EE technologies. It’s particularly suitable for developing microservices.

Struts Framework Architecture

Struts employs the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, which excels at separating business logic, user interfaces, and data. Its core components include Controller (ActionServlet), Model (ActionForm), and View (JSP). This makes Struts ideal for maintaining legacy systems.


Spring Framework

Struts Framework




Core Principles




Multiple (Core, AOP, ORM, Web)

Single (ActionServlet, ActionForm, JSP)


Enterprise-level, Microservices

Legacy, Monolithic

Differences in Development Approach

Spring and Struts differ in their development approaches, each preferred for specific reasons.

1. Modularity

Spring's modular framework allows developers to work on individual components without affecting the entire project. In contrast, Struts' interconnected structure requires changes across multiple files, making Spring more suitable for large, complex projects.

2. Ease of Learning

Struts, with its straightforward design pattern, is initially easier for beginners. However, Spring’s extensive framework offers more tools, though it requires a steeper learning curve.

3. Scalability

Spring’s design, especially with Spring Boot, supports scalability, making it ideal for both small and large projects. Struts, being a mature framework, may struggle with modern scalability demands due to its architecture.

4. Performance

Spring is known for its lightweight, fast performance, continuously updated to meet modern standards. Struts, while reliable, can lag due to its older, heavier design.


Spring Framework

Struts Framework

Development Modularity

Highly Modular

Less Modular, Changes Across Multiple Files

Learning Curve

Steeper, Advanced Concepts

Gentler, Easier for Beginners


Highly Scalable, Suitable for Microservices

Limited Scalability, Best for Monolithic Apps


Faster, Lightweight

Reliable, Heavyweight

Companies Using Spring Framework vs. Struts

Many major companies worldwide, such as TransferWise and Indeed, prefer the Spring Framework for its scalability and performance efficiency. Struts remains popular among companies, including Red Hat, for its robustness in maintaining legacy applications.


Framework Adopted

Key Benefits

Wise logo


Modular, scalable solutions, lightweight

Indeed logo


Flexibility, performance efficiency

Red Hat logo


Maintaining legacy applications, MVC architecture

Which Framework to Choose: Use Cases and Recommendations

Choosing between Spring and Struts depends on project requirements. Spring’s modular and flexible framework is ideal for new, scalable projects, especially microservices. Companies like TransferWise and Indeed highlight Spring’s strength in building robust, flexible systems.

Struts, with its MVC architecture, is better suited for maintaining large, legacy systems. It’s a solid choice for projects requiring stability and integration with older technologies.


Spring Framework

Struts Framework

Popular Use Case

Building microservices apps

Maintaining legacy applications

Key Feature

Modularity and flexibility

Tag libraries and MVC support

Developer Preference

62% majority

Legacy support

Ease of Use

Steeper learning curve

More accessible for simpler tasks

Contract us for hiring Java developers

Get in touch

for hiring Spring or Struts developers

Frequently Asked Questions about Spring Framework vs Struts

What makes the Spring Framework stand out in Java web development?

The Spring Framework excels in Java web development due to its use of Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control, simplifying application management and enhancing flexibility. Tools like Spring Boot and Spring Security further aid in building scalable and testable applications.

How does the IoC Container in Spring improve application development?

The IoC Container in Spring manages object creation and dependencies, reducing setup complexity and enhancing maintainability and testability.

Can you explain the history of the Spring Framework?

Spring began as an open-source project aimed at simplifying the development of large-scale applications in Java. It introduced Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control, gaining rapid adoption for its powerful features and flexibility.

What are the primary features of the Struts Framework?

Struts is known for its MVC design, which separates application logic, presentation, and data. It supports POJO forms and actions, has a robust tag library, and integrates well with other technologies.

What benefits does the Spring Framework offer over Struts?

Spring offers more modularity, faster development with POJOs, and a comprehensive ecosystem of tools, making it ideal for new, scalable applications. Its non-invasive design and independent layers also facilitate clean code and integration with other frameworks.

Are there any challenges associated with using the Spring Framework?

Yes, the Spring Framework can be complex to learn and has a high configuration overhead, especially with XML. Security configurations also require careful attention.

How does Struts handle integration with other technologies?

Struts integrates seamlessly with other tools and technologies, simplifying development and updates with annotations and minimizing compatibility issues.

What is the architecture of the Spring Framework?

Spring features a layered architecture with components like Core Container, AOP, ORM, and Web, promoting modularity and flexibility in large-scale applications.

Which companies prefer using the Spring Framework?

Major companies like TransferWise and Indeed use Spring for its scalability, flexibility, and comprehensive toolset.

On what criteria should we base our choice between Spring and Struts?

Choose based on project size and design needs. Spring is best for new, scalable projects, while Struts is suited for maintaining older applications.

What are the key differences in development approach between Spring and Struts?

Spring emphasizes modularity and scalability, with a steeper learning curve and better performance. Struts is simpler to start with but has limitations in flexibility and scalability.

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