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Elegant Error Handling for Spring Boot

Errors Spring Boot Starter

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A Bootiful, Consistent and Opinionated Approach to Handle all sorts of Exceptions.

Table of Contents

  • Make Error Handling Great Again!
  • Getting Started
    • Download
    • Prerequisites
    • Overview
    • Error Codes
    • Error Message
    • Exposing Arguments
      • Exposing Named Arguments
      • Named Arguments Interpolation
    • Validation and Binding Errors
    • Custom Exceptions
    • Spring MVC
    • Spring Security
      • Reactive
      • Servlet
    • Error Representation
      • Fingerprinting
      • Customizing the Error Representation
    • Default Error Handler
    • Refining Exceptions
    • Logging Exceptions
    • Post Processing Handled Exceptions
    • Registering Custom Handlers
    • Test Support
  • Appendix
    • Configuration
  • License

Make Error Handling Great Again!

Built on top of Spring Boot's great exception handling mechanism, the errors-spring-boot-starter offers:

  • A consistent approach to handle all exceptions. Doesn't matter if it's a validation/binding error or a custom domain-specific error or even a Spring related error, All of them would be handled by a WebErrorHandler implementation (No more ErrorController vs @ExceptionHandler vs WebExceptionHandler)
  • Built-in support for application specific error codes, again, for all possible errors.
  • Simple error message interpolation using plain old MessageSources.
  • Customizable HTTP error representation.
  • Exposing arguments from exceptions to error messages.
  • Supporting both traditional and reactive stacks.
  • Customizable exception logging.
  • Supporting error fingerprinting.

Getting Started


Download the latest JAR or grab via Maven:


or Gradle:

compile "me.alidg:errors-spring-boot-starter:1.4.0"

If you like to stay at the cutting edge, use our 1.5.0-SNAPSHOT version. Of course you should define the following snapshot repository:



repositories {
    maven {
      url ''


The main dependency is JDK 8+. Tested with:

  • JDK 8, JDK 9, JDK 10 and JDK 11 on Linux.
  • Spring Boot 2.2.0.RELEASE (Also, should work with any 2.0.0+)


The WebErrorHandler implementations are responsible for handling different kinds of exceptions. When an exception happens, the WebErrorHandlers (A factory over all WebErrorHandler implementations) catches the exception and would find an appropriate implementation to handle the exception. By default, WebErrorHandlers consults with the following implementations to handle a particular exception:

  • An implementation to handle all validation/binding exceptions.
  • An implementation to handle custom exceptions annotated with the @ExceptionMapping.
  • An implementation to handle Spring MVC specific exceptions.
  • And if the Spring Security is on the classpath, An implementation to handle Spring Security specific exceptions.

After delegating to the appropriate handler, the WebErrorHandlers turns the handled exception result into a HttpError, which encapsulates the HTTP status code and all error code/message combinations.

Error Codes

Although using appropriate HTTP status codes is a recommended approach in RESTful APIs, sometimes, we need more information to find out what exactly went wrong. This is where Error Codes comes in. You can think of an error code as a Machine Readable description of the error. Each exception can be mapped to at least one error code.

In errors-spring-boot-starter, one can map exceptions to error codes in different ways:

  • Validation error codes can be extracted from the Bean Validation's constraints:

    public class User {  
        @NotBlank(message = "username.required")
        private final String username;
        @NotBlank(message = "password.required")
        @Size(min = 6, message = "password.min_length")
        private final String password;
        // constructor and getter and setters

    To report a violation in password length, the password.min_length would be reported as the error code. As you may guess, one validation exception can contain multiple error codes to report all validation violations at once.

  • Specifying the error code for custom exceptions using the @ExceptionMapping annotation:

    @ExceptionMapping(statusCode = BAD_REQUEST, errorCode = "user.already_exists")
    public class UserAlreadyExistsException extends RuntimeException {}

    The UserAlreadyExistsException exception would be mapped to user.already_exists error code.

  • Specifying the error code in a WebErrorHandler implementation:

    public class ExistedUserHandler implements WebErrorHandler {
        public boolean canHandle(Throwable exception) {
            return exception instanceof UserAlreadyExistsException;
        public HandledException handle(Throwable exception) {   
            return new HandledException("user.already_exists", BAD_REQUEST, null);

Error Message

Once the exception mapped to error code(s), we can add a companion and Human Readable error message. This can be done by registering a Spring MessageSource to perform the code-to-message translation. For example, if we add the following key-value pair in our message resource file:

user.already_exists=Another user with the same username already exists

Then if an exception of type UserAlreadyExistsException was thrown, you would see a 400 Bad Request HTTP response with a body like:

  "errors": [
      "code": "user.already_exists",
      "message": "Another user with the same username already exists"

Since MessageSource supports Internationalization (i18n), our error messages can possibly have different values based on each Locale.

Exposing Arguments

With Bean Validation you can pass parameters from the constraint validation, e.g. @Size, to its corresponding interpolated message. For example, if we have:

password.min_length=The password must be at least {0} characters

And a configuration like:

@Size(min = 6, message = "password.min_length")
private final String password;

The min attribute from the @Size constraint would be passed to the message interpolation mechanism, so:

  "errors": [
      "code": "password.min_length",
      "message": "The password must be at least 6 characters"

In addition to support this feature for validation errors, we extend it for custom exceptions using the @ExposeAsArg annotation. For example, if we're going to specify the already taken username in the message:

user.already_exists=Another user with the '{0}' username already exists

We could write:

@ExceptionMapping(statusCode = BAD_REQUEST, errorCode = "user.already_exists")
public class UserAlreadyExistsException extends RuntimeException {
    @ExposeAsArg(0) private final String username;
    // constructor

Then the username property from the UserAlreadyExistsException would be available to the message under the user.already_exists key as the first argument. @ExposeAsArg can be used on fields and no-arg methods with a return type. The HandledException class also accepts the to-be-exposed arguments in its constructor.

Exposing Named Arguments

By default error arguments will be used in message interpolation only. It is also possible to additionally get those arguments in error response by defining the configuration property errors.expose-arguments. When enabled, you might get the following response payload:

  "errors": [
      "code": "password.min_length",
      "message": "The password must be at least 6 characters",
      "arguments": {
        "min": 6

The errors.expose-arguments property takes 3 possible values:

  • NEVER - named arguments will never be exposed. This is the default setting.
  • NON_EMPTY - named arguments will be exposed only in case there are any. If error has no arguments, result payload will not have "arguments" element.
  • ALWAYS - the "arguments" element is always present in payload, even when the error has no arguments. In that case empty map will be provided: "arguments": {}.

Checkout here for more detail on how we expose arguments for different exception categories.

Named Arguments Interpolation

You can use either positional or named argument placeholders in message templates. Given:

@Size(min = 6, max = 20, message = "password.length")
private final String password;

You can create message template in with positional arguments:

password.length=Password must have length between {1} and {0}

Arguments are sorted by name. Since lexicographically max < min, placeholder {0} will be substituted with argument max, and {1} will have value of argument min.

You can also use argument names as placeholders:

password.length=Password must have length between {min} and {max}

Named arguments interpolation works out of the box, regardless of the errors.expose-arguments value. You can mix both approaches, but it is not recommended.

If there is a value in the message that should not be interpolated, escape the first { character with a backslash:

password.length=Password \\{min} is {min} and \\{max} is {max}

After interpolation, this message would read: Password {min} is 6 and {max} is 20.

Arguments annotated with @ExposeAsArg will be named by annotated field or method name:

private final String argName; // will be exposed as "argName"

This can be changed by the name parameter:

@ExposeAsArg(value = 0, name = "customName")
private final String argName; // will be exposed as "customName"

Validation and Binding Errors

Validation errors can be processed as you might expect. For example, if a client passed an empty JSON to a controller method like:

public void createUser(@RequestBody @Valid User user) {
    // omitted

Then the following error would be returned:

  "errors": [
      "code": "password.min_length",
      "message": "corresponding message!"
       "code": "password.required",
       "message": "corresponding message!"
      "code": "username.required",
      "message": "corresponding message!"

Bean Validation's ConstraintViolationExceptions will be handled in the same way, too.

Custom Exceptions

Custom exceptions can be mapped to status code and error code combination using the @ExceptionMapping annotation:

@ExceptionMapping(statusCode = BAD_REQUEST, errorCode = "user.already_exists")
public class UserAlreadyExistsException extends RuntimeException {}

Here, every time we catch an instance of UserAlreadyExistsException, a Bad Request HTTP response with user.already_exists error would be returned.

Also, it's possible to expose some arguments from custom exceptions to error messages using the ExposeAsArg:

@ExceptionMapping(statusCode = BAD_REQUEST, errorCode = "user.already_exists")
public class UserAlreadyExistsException extends RuntimeException {
    @ExposeAsArg(0) private final String username;
    // constructor
    public String exposeThisToo() {
        return "42";

Then the error message template can be something like:

user.already_exists=Another user exists with the '{0}' username: {1}

During message interpolation, the {0} and {1} placeholders would be replaced with annotated field's value and method's return value. The ExposeAsArg annotation is applicable to:

  • Fields
  • No-arg methods with a return type

Spring MVC

By default, a custom WebErrorHandler is registered to handle common exceptions thrown by Spring MVC:

Exception Status Code Error Code Exposed Args
HttpMessageNotReadableException 400 web.invalid_or_missing_body -
HttpMediaTypeNotAcceptableException 406 web.not_acceptable List of acceptable MIME types
HttpMediaTypeNotSupportedException 415 web.unsupported_media_type The unsupported content type
HttpRequestMethodNotSupportedException 405 web.method_not_allowed The invalid HTTP method
MissingServletRequestParameterException 400 web.missing_parameter Name and type of the missing query Param
MissingServletRequestPartException 400 web.missing_part Missing request part name
NoHandlerFoundException 404 web.no_handler The request path
MissingRequestHeaderException 400 web.missing_header The missing header name
MissingRequestCookieException 400 web.missing_cookie The missing cookie name
MissingMatrixVariableException 400 web.missing_matrix_variable The missing matrix variable name
others 500 unknown_error -

Also, almost all exceptions from the ResponseStatusException hierarchy, added in Spring Framework 5+ , are handled compatible with the Spring MVC traditional exceptions.

Spring Security

When Spring Security is present on the classpath, a WebErrorHandler implementation would be responsible to handle common Spring Security exceptions:

Exception Status Code Error Code
AccessDeniedException 403 security.access_denied
AccountExpiredException 400 security.account_expired
AuthenticationCredentialsNotFoundException 401 security.auth_required
AuthenticationServiceException 500 security.internal_error
BadCredentialsException 400 security.bad_credentials
UsernameNotFoundException 400 security.bad_credentials
InsufficientAuthenticationException 401 security.auth_required
LockedException 400 security.user_locked
DisabledException 400 security.user_disabled
others 500 unknown_error

Reactive Security

When the Spring Security is detected along with the Reactive stack, the starter registers two extra handlers to handle all security related exceptions. In contrast with other handlers which register themselves automatically, in order to use these two handlers, you should register them in your security configuration manually as follows:

public class WebFluxSecurityConfig {

    // other configurations

    public SecurityWebFilterChain springSecurityFilterChain(ServerHttpSecurity http,
                                                            ServerAccessDeniedHandler accessDeniedHandler,
                                                            ServerAuthenticationEntryPoint authenticationEntryPoint) {
                // other configurations


The registered ServerAccessDeniedHandler and ServerAuthenticationEntryPoint are responsible for handling AccessDeniedException and AuthenticationException exceptions, respectively.

Servlet Security

When the Spring Security is detected along with the traditional servlet stack, the starter registers two extra handlers to handle all security related exceptions. In contrast with other handlers which register themselves automatically, in order to use these two handlers, you should register them in your security configuration manually as follows:

public class SecurityConfig extends WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter {

    private final AccessDeniedHandler accessDeniedHandler;
    private final AuthenticationEntryPoint authenticationEntryPoint;

    public SecurityConfig(AccessDeniedHandler accessDeniedHandler, AuthenticationEntryPoint authenticationEntryPoint) {
        this.accessDeniedHandler = accessDeniedHandler;
        this.authenticationEntryPoint = authenticationEntryPoint;

    protected void configure(HttpSecurity http) throws Exception {

The registered AccessDeniedHandler and AuthenticationEntryPoint are responsible for handling AccessDeniedException and AuthenticationException exceptions, respectively.

Error Representation

By default, errors would manifest themselves in the HTTP response bodies with the following JSON schema:

  "errors": [
      "code": "the_error_code",
      "message": "the_error_message"


There is also an option to generate error fingerprint. Fingerprint is a unique hash of error event which might be used as a correlation ID of error presented to user, and reported in application backend (e.g. in detailed log message). To generate error fingerprints, add the configuration property errors.add-fingerprint=true.

We provide two fingerprint providers implementations:

  • UuidFingerprintProvider which generates a random UUID regardless of the handled exception. This is the default provider and will be used out of the box if errors.add-fingerprint=true property is configured.
  • Md5FingerprintProvider which generates MD5 checksum of full class name of original exception and current time.

Customizing the Error Representation

In order to change the default error representation, just implement the HttpErrorAttributesAdapter interface and register it as Spring Bean:

public class OopsDrivenHttpErrorAttributesAdapter implements HttpErrorAttributesAdapter {
    public Map<String, Object> adapt(HttpError httpError) {
        return Collections.singletonMap("Oops!", httpError.getErrors());

Default Error Handler

By default, when all registered WebErrorHandlers refuse to handle a particular exception, the LastResortWebErrorHandler would catch the exception and return a 500 Internal Server Error with unknown_error as the error code.

If you don't like this behavior, you can change it by registering a Bean of type WebErrorHandler with the defaultWebErrorHandler as the Bean Name:

public class CustomDefaultWebErrorHandler implements WebErrorHandler {
    // Omitted

Refining Exceptions

Sometimes the given exception is not the actual problem and we need to dig deeper to handle the error, say the actual exception is hidden as a cause inside the top-level exception. In order to transform some exceptions before handling them, we can register an ExceptionRefiner implementation as a Spring Bean:

public class CustomExceptionRefiner implements ExceptionRefiner {
    Throwable refine(Throwable exception) {
        return exception instanceof ConversionFailedException ? exception.getCause() : exception;

Logging Exceptions

By default, the starter issues a few debug logs under the me.alidg.errors.WebErrorHandlers logger name. In order to customize the way we log exceptions, we just need to implement the ExceptionLogger interface and register it as a Spring Bean:

public class StdErrExceptionLogger implements ExceptionLogger {
    public void log(Throwable exception) {
        if (exception != null)
            System.err.println("Failed to process the request: " + exception);

Post Processing Handled Exceptions

As a more powerful alternative to ExceptionLogger mechanism, there is also WebErrorHandlerPostProcessor interface. You may declare multiple post processors which implement this interface and are exposed as Spring Bean. Below is an example of more advanced logging post processors:

public class LoggingErrorWebErrorHandlerPostProcessor implements WebErrorHandlerPostProcessor {
    private static final Logger log = LoggerFactory.getLogger(LoggingErrorWebErrorHandlerPostProcessor.class);
    public void process(@NonNull HttpError error) {
        if (error.getHttpStatus().is4xxClientError()) {
            log.warn("[{}] {}", error.getFingerprint(), prepareMessage(error));
        } else if (error.getHttpStatus().is5xxServerError()) {
            log.error("[{}] {}", error.getFingerprint(), prepareMessage(error), error.getOriginalException());
    private String prepareMessage(HttpError error) {
        return error.getErrors().stream()
                    .collect(Collectors.joining("; "));

Registering Custom Handlers

In order to provide a custom handler for a specific exception, just implement the WebErrorHandler interface for that exception and register it as a Spring Bean:

public class CustomWebErrorHandler implements WebErrorHandler {
    public boolean canHandle(Throwable exception) {
        return exception instanceof ConversionFailedException;

    public HandledException handle(Throwable exception) {
        return new HandledException("custom_error_code", HttpStatus.BAD_REQUEST, null);

If you're going to register multiple handlers, you can change their priority using @Order. Please note that all your custom handlers would be registered after built-in exception handlers (Validation, ExceptionMapping, etc.). If you don't like this idea, provide a custom Bean of type WebErrorHandlers and the default one would be discarded.

Test Support

In order to enable our test support for WebMvcTests, just add the @AutoConfigureErrors annotation to your test class. That's how a WebMvcTest would look like with errors support enabled:

public class UserControllerIT {
    @Autowired private MockMvc mvc;
    public void createUser_ShouldReturnBadRequestForInvalidBodies() throws Exception {

For WebFluxTests, the test support is almost the same as the Servlet stack:

@ImportAutoConfiguration(ErrorWebFluxAutoConfiguration.class) // Drop this if you're using Spring Boot 2.1.4+
public class UserControllerIT {

    @Autowired private WebTestClient client;

    public void createUser_ShouldReturnBadRequestForInvalidBodies() {
                .syncBody("{}").header(CONTENT_TYPE, APPLICATION_JSON_UTF8_VALUE)



Additional configuration of this starter can be provided by configuration properties - the Spring Boot way. All configuration properties start with errors. Below is a list of supported properties:

Property Values Default value
errors.expose-arguments NEVER, NON_EMPTY, ALWAYS NEVER
errors.add-fingerprint true, false false

Check ErrorsProperties implementation for more details.


Copyright 2018 alimate

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.