Spring MVC and Thymeleaf: how to acess data from templates

Spring MVC and Thymeleaf: how to acess data from templates

I wrote this article for thymeleaf.org, with a great help of Daniel Fernández. You can find it here: http://www.thymeleaf.org/doc/articles/springmvcaccessdata.html

12/11/2016: Updated to Thymeleaf 3.0. Find the examples used in this article in this repository: https://github.com/kolorobot/spring-boot-thymeleaf (http://blog.codeleak.pl/2014/04/how-to-spring-boot-and-thymeleaf-with-maven.html)

In a typical Spring MVC application, @Controller classes are responsible for preparing a model map with data and selecting a view to be rendered. This model map allows for the complete abstraction of the view technology and, in the case of Thymeleaf, it is
transformed into a Thymeleaf context object (part of the Thymeleaf template execution context) that makes all the defined variables available to expressions executed in templates.

Spring model attributes

Spring MVC calls the pieces of data that can be accessed during the execution of views model attributes. The equivalent term in Thymeleaf language is context variables.

There are several ways of adding model attributes to a view in Spring MVC. Below you will find some common cases:

Add attribute to Model via its addAttribute method:

    @RequestMapping(value = "message", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    public String messages(Model model) {
        model.addAttribute("messages", messageRepository.findAll());
        return "message/list";

Return ModelAndView with model attributes included:

    @RequestMapping(value = "message", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    public ModelAndView messages() {
        ModelAndView mav = new ModelAndView("message/list");
        mav.addObject("messages", messageRepository.findAll());
        return mav;

Expose common attributes via methods annotated with @ModelAttribute:

    public List<Message> messages() {
        return messageRepository.findAll();

As you may have noticed, in all the above cases the messages attribute is added to the model and it will be available in Thymeleaf views.

In Thymeleaf, these model attributes (or context variables in Thymeleaf jargon) can be accessed with the following syntax: ${attributeName}, where attributeName in our case is messages. This is a Spring EL expression. In short, Spring EL (Spring Expression Language) is a language that supports querying and manipulating an object graph at runtime.

You can access model attributes in views with Thymeleaf as follows:

    <tr th:each="message : ${messages}">
        <td th:text="${message.id}">1</td>
        <td><a href="#" th:text="${message.title}">Title ...</a></td>
        <td th:text="${message.text}">Text ...</td>

Request parameters

Request parameters can be easily accessed in Thymeleaf views. Request parameters are passed from the client to server like:


Let’s assume we have a @Controller that sends a redirect with a request parameter:

    public class SomeController {
        public String redirect() {
            return "redirect:/query?q=Thymeleaf Is Great!";

In order to access the q parameter you can use the param. prefix:

    <p th:text="${param.q}">Test</p>

In the above example if parameter q is not present, empty string will be displayed in the above paragraph otherwise the value of q will be shown.

Since parameters can be multivalued (e.g. `https://example.com/query?q=Thymeleaf%20Is%20Great!&q=Really%3F) you may access them using brackets syntax:

    <p th:text="${param.q[0] + ' ' + param.q[1]}" th:unless="${param.q == null}">Test</p>

Note: If you access multivalued parameter with ${param.q} you will get a serialized array as a value.

Another way to access request parameters is by using the special #request object that gives you direct access to the javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest object:

<p th:text="${#request.getParameter('q')}" th:unless="${#request.getParameter('q') == null}">Test</p>

Session attributes

In the below example we add mySessionAttribute to session:

String index(HttpSession session) {
    session.setAttribute("mySessionAttribute", "someValue");
    return "index";

Similarly to the request parameters, session attributes can be access by using the session. prefix:

<p th:text="${session.mySessionAttribute}" th:unless="${session == null}">[...]</p>

Or by using #session, that gives you direct access to the javax.servlet.http.HttpSession object: ${#session.getAttribute('mySessionAttribute')}

ServletContext attributes

The ServletContext attributes are shared between requests and sessions. In order to access ServletContext attributes in Thymeleaf you can use the #servletContext. prefix:

            <td>My context attribute</td>
            <!-- Retrieves the ServletContext attribute 'myContextAttribute' -->
            <td th:text="${#servletContext.getAttribute('myContextAttribute')}">42</td>
        <tr th:each="attr : ${#servletContext.getAttributeNames()}">
            <td th:text="${attr}">javax.servlet.context.tempdir</td>
            <td th:text="${#servletContext.getAttribute(attr)}">/tmp</td>

Spring beans

Thymeleaf allows accessing beans registered at the Spring Application Context with the @beanName syntax, for example:

<div th:text="${@urlService.getApplicationUrl()}">...</div> 

In the above example, @urlService refers to a Spring Bean registered at your context. E.g.

    public class MyConfiguration {
        @Bean(name = "urlService")
        public UrlService urlService() {
            return () -> "domain.com/myapp";

    public interface UrlService {
        String getApplicationUrl();

This is fairly easy and useful in some scenarios.

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