Spring Boot automated controller

last modified July 29, 2023

In this article we show how to create simple automated controller in a Spring Boot application with ViewControllerRegistry. Our application shows a simple page that displays current date. We use FreeMarker as template engine.

Spring is a popular Java application framework. Spring Boot is an effort to create stand-alone, production-grade Spring based applications without much hassle.

FreeMarker is a server-side Java template engine for both web and standalone environments. Templates are written in the FreeMarker Template Language (FTL), which is a simple, specialized language.


Sometimes we do not need complex controller logic and just want to return a view. ViewControllerRegistry registers simple automated controllers pre-configured with status code and/or a view. Its addViewController method maps a view controller to the given URL path (or pattern) in order to render a response with a pre-configured status code and view.

│   ├───java
│   │   └───com
│   │       └───zetcode
│   │           │   Application.java
│   │           └───config
│   │                   MvcConfig.java
│   └───resources
│       └───templates
│               index.ftlh

This is the project structure. FreeMarker template files have .ftlh suffix; they are located in the resources/templates directory by default.

plugins {
    id 'java'
    id 'org.springframework.boot' version '3.1.1'
    id 'io.spring.dependency-management' version '1.1.0'

group = 'com.zetcode'
version = '0.0.1-SNAPSHOT'

java {
    sourceCompatibility = '17'

repositories {

dependencies {
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-web'
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-freemarker'
    testImplementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-test'


test {

The spring-boot-starter-freemarker is starter for building Spring MVC applications with FreeMarker. The spring-boot-starter-test imports necessary testing modules. The application is packaged into a JAR file.

package com.zetcode.config;

import org.springframework.context.annotation.Configuration;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.config.annotation.ViewControllerRegistry;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.config.annotation.WebMvcConfigurer;

public class MvcConfig implements WebMvcConfigurer {

    public void addViewControllers(ViewControllerRegistry registry) {

In the MvcConfig class we configure a view and a controller for the home page. The index view is mapped to the index.ftlh template file which is located in the src/main/resources/templates directory.

<#assign now = .now>
<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>Home page</title>
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
        <p>Today is: ${now?string.short}</p>

The index.ftlh template file is the home page of the application. It displays current date.

<#assign now = .now>

Here we assign current date time value to the now variable.

<p>Today is: ${now?string.short}</p>

We print the date in the short format.

package com.zetcode;

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;

public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);

We set up the Spring Boot application. The @SpringBootApplication annotation enables auto-configuration and component scanning.

package com.zetcode;

import org.junit.jupiter.api.BeforeEach;
import org.junit.jupiter.api.Test;
import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.Autowired;
import org.springframework.boot.test.context.SpringBootTest;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.MockMvc;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.request.MockMvcRequestBuilders;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.result.MockMvcResultHandlers;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.result.MockMvcResultMatchers;
import org.springframework.test.web.servlet.setup.MockMvcBuilders;
import org.springframework.web.context.WebApplicationContext;

public class HomePageTest {

    private WebApplicationContext wac;

    private MockMvc mockMvc;

    public void setUp() {
        this.mockMvc = MockMvcBuilders.webAppContextSetup(this.wac).build();

    public void testHomePage() throws Exception {

This is a test for the home page.

$ ./gradlew bootRun

We start the application.

$ curl localhost:8080
<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>Home page</title>
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
        <p>Today is: 7/18/23, 1:47 PM</p>

With the curl tool, we retrieve the home page.

In this article we have created a simple controller and view in Spring Boot without creating a specific controller class. We have used FreeMarker as template engine.


My name is Jan Bodnar and I am a passionate programmer with many years of programming experience. I have been writing programming articles since 2007. So far, I have written over 1400 articles and 8 e-books. I have over eight years of experience in teaching programming.

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