Spring Inner Bean

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Often in Spring application, developers has to define a bean which is solely owned by another bean. This type of bean called inner bean.

Think about Gmail account, it is owned by an owner and it is not shareable. Only Owner has access to it. The outside world is not permitted to see it. So in Spring, If we define Gmail account as a normal bean and associate it with an Owner by ref property it will be not a perfect solution since the same bean can be associated with another Owner bean.

So, this will be shared among two owners, which breaks the Encapsulation. Some people can argue and say prototype scope solves the problem but it certainly not, as every request to the account, it will create new bean but Gmail Account should be single instance per Owner.
Prototype breaks here.

So, the ideal solution to this problem is an inner bean which will creates under the Owner context and only visible and accessible via Owner and scope of account is singleton.

Example, Java Code

package com.example.innerbean;

public interface Account {
	public void setName(String name);
	public String getName();

package com.example.innerbean;

public class GmailAccount implements Account{
	private String name;

	public void setName(String name) {
		this.name = name;

	public String getName() {
		// TODO Auto-generated method stub
		return name;

	public String toString() {
		return "GmailAccount [name=" + name + "]";

package com.example.innerbean;

import org.springframework.beans.factory.BeanFactory;
import org.springframework.beans.factory.xml.XmlBeanFactory;
import org.springframework.context.ApplicationContext;
import org.springframework.context.support.ClassPathXmlApplicationContext;
import org.springframework.core.io.ClassPathResource;

import com.example.hello.HelloWorld;

public class EmailOwner {
	Account account;
	String name;

	public Account getAccount() {
		return account;

	public void setAccount(Account account) {
		this.account = account;

	public String getName() {
		return name;

	public void setName(String name) {
		this.name = name;

	public String toString() {
		return "EmailOwner [name=" + name + ", account=" + account + "]";

	public static void main(String[] args) {
	 ApplicationContext ctx = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("configFiles/InnerBean.xml");
      EmailOwner owner =(EmailOwner) ctx.getBean("owner");


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"

   <bean id="owner" class="com.example.innerbean.EmailOwner">
   	   <property name="name" value="Shamik Mitra"/>
       <property name="account">
	       <bean id="gmail" class="com.example.innerbean.GmailAccount">
	         <property name="name" value="Gmail"/>



EmailOwner [name=Shamik Mitra, account=GmailAccount [name=Gmail]]

Please look the InnerBean.xml , here I declare a Bean under Owner account property,
This bean is called as inner bean. When Spring container initialize the Owner bean, it will initialize its property and create the GmailAccount Object and inject the same to account property.

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