Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) with Spring Boot Basics

January 14, 2019

PCF Cloud Native Developer

I took the PCF Cloud Native Developer four day course to prepare for the Pivotal Certified Java Developer exam. This was my first in-depth exposure to PCF and Spring (Boot, MVC, Cloud), so there was a lot to learn with little experience. I learned a lot and enjoyed the course.

The course is very hands-on: The instructors introduce a concept at a high level, then you and a pairing partner must implement it in a real application. At the end of each lab, the instructors give an in-depth debriefing and go over the questions and challenges that arose for students. It’s a great format and I highly recommend it for anyone working with Pivotal’s cloud tools.

The example project is called PAL Tracker and the code is available on my GitHub.

The following are my notes, which I’m using as my study guide for the certification exam.

The PCF Developer Environment

Developing Spring apps for PAL “the Pivotal way” requires Git, Java 8 or above, IntelliJ, the Cloud Foundry CLI, Gradle, MySQL, and Flyway.

Once the tools are installed, log in to Cloud Foundry (CF):

cf login -a ${CF_API_ENDPOINT}
# ... follow prompts ...

From there, the CLI can be used to explore the Cloud Foundry environment. Here are a few useful commands:

cf target # View the targeted organiziation or space
cf apps # List applications in the target CF space
cf services # List services in the target CF space
cf marketplace # List services that can added to the target CF space

Additional information: Platform Acceleration Lab

Create a Spring Boot Application

Start with Gradle:

gradle wrapper
touch build.gradle

Open the project in IntelliJ using File > Open rather than the import feature.

In IntelliJ, update the build.gradle file to use the Java plug-in, reference the Maven Central repository, and apply the latest Spring Boot Gradle plug-in:

// Gradle Configuration

buildscript {
    ext {
        // Set Spring Boot version as variable
        springBootVersion = "2.0.6.RELEASE"

    repositories {
        // Use Maven Central to get required packages

    dependencies {
        // Add specified version of Spring Boot to class path
        classpath "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-gradle-plugin:$springBootVersion"

// PAL Tracker Configuration

plugins {
    // It's a Java Project!
    id "java"

// Apply the Spring Framework plug-in
apply plugin: 'org.springframework.boot'

repositories {
    // Use Maven Central to get required packages

dependencies {
    // Add specified version of Spring Boot to class path

Next, create a file settings.gradle to set the name of the Gradle project. This determines the name of the JAR file when the application is built:

rootProject.name = "pal-tracker"

Gradle Project Structure

Create a minimal standard Maven directory layout:

mkdir -p src/main/java

Use IntelliJ to create a new package called io.pivotal.pal.tracker. This might require setting ‘src/main/java` as the “Sources Root” first:

Set IntelliJ sources root

With the basic project structure established, we can create a class for our application called PalTrackerApplication:

package io.pivotal.pal.tracker;

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

// Tell Spring Boot that this is our main entry point
public class PalTrackerApplication {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Start the app
        SpringApplication.run(PalTrackerApplication.class, args);

    // Later: Register beans with @Bean

The @SpringBootApplication annotation tells Spring Boot that this class contains the main entrypoint of the application. The call to SpringApplication.run(...) is boiler-plate to tell Spring to scan for the necessary components that will be injected into the controllers and other classes that make up the applicaiton.

It’s now possible to run the application, though you’ll receive the generic Spring Boot Whitelabel Error Page.

To make running the application, and later tests, easier you can delegate these actions to Gradle in IntelliJ under File > Settings > Build, Execution, Deployment > Gradle > Runner:

Delegate build run and test actions to Gradle in IntelliJ

Create a REST Controller

With the basic project structure in place, we can create a simple REST controller by generating a new Java class and annotating it:

package io.pivotal.pal.tracker;

import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.GetMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RestController;

// Tells spring that this controller provides REST end-points
public class WelcomeController {

    // Maps "GET" requests to the application root
    public String sayHello() {
        return "hello";

When the application is run and launched in the browser, the “hello” string is returned.

Push to Cloud Foundry

Build and deploy the application to Cloud Foundry:

./gradlew build # build the JAR
cf push -p build/libs/pal-tracker.jar # deploy to CF

Get the application status:

cf app pal-tracker # Get application status

Get recent log output from the app:

cf logs --recent

The output of cf push will include a URL. Opening the URL in a web browser should bring up the application.

Next: PCF and Spring Boot Environment Basics

Now that we have a basic Spring Boot application running on PCF, we can explore how to configure the local and PCF run-time environments.