This article examines the differences between Quarkus and Micronaut in architecture, design, code samples, and development experience using real use cases.

Java digmo

Life offers choices, but sometimes, it leads us into a dilemma. Imagine struggling to pick an outfit for an event because both options are equally amazing.

I’m currently exploring the idea of launching a new Java project, hoping for more opportunities based on my performance in Java.

I’ve been examining Quarkus and Micronaut and always love hearing about others’ experiences. Based on my crowd-sourcing research on Reddit, stack overflow, and other places, It seems that Quarkus boasts a larger, more active community than Micronaut’s activity in these discussions. Also, I got this: 

While I’m still trying to make up my mind, I decided to write a short blog post and include several opinions I came across online about these two amazing web frameworks. I believe at the end of the blog post, we’ll end up making an informed decision about which framework we’ll go for. 

Quarkus Vs. Micronaut

Quarkus is a cutting-edge Kubernetes-native Java framework that leverages the power of GraalVM and OpenJDK HotSpot to provide unparalleled performance and efficiency. 

Its core mission is to prioritize two essential principles: rapid startup times and optimized memory usage to meet the demands of modern cloud-native architectures.

Quarkus has earned recognition for its impressive resource utilization, significantly elevating the performance benchmarks of Java applications and rejuvenating Java’s position in cloud-native and serverless environments. 

With a focus on speed and efficiency, Quarkus streamlines the process of deploying and managing containerized microservices, making it easier for developers to navigate complex architectures.

Micronaut

Micronaut is a full-stack Java framework that prioritizes the development of modular, testable microservices and serverless applications. 

At its core, Micronaut’s design philosophy is centered around three key principles: compile-time dependency injection, minimal reflection, and efficient resource utilization. 

By incorporating these tenets, Micronaut simplifies the process of creating scalable microservices while providing a seamless testing experience. Unlike traditional approaches, Micronaut’s emphasis on compile-time dependency injection enables robust, modular architectures that enhance the maintainability and testability of applications, marking a significant shift in how developers tackle the complexities of modern distributed systems.
Now that we are done briefly introducing Quarkus and Micronaut, we will access these frameworks using the criteria below.


Architecture and Design

  1. Startup times and memory utilization

Code Samples

  1. Quarkus Code Sample
  2. Micronaut Code Sample

Use Cases and Suitability

  1. Scenarios where Quarkus is the better choice
  2. Scenarios where Micronaut is the better choice


Development Experience

  1. Documentation and Community support
  2. Tooling 
  3. Application Type
  4. Observability capabilities
  5. Ease of integration and extensibility
  6. Language Support
  7. Future sustainability of the framework

Architecture and Design

1. Startup Times and Memory Utilization

Quarkus

Quarkus has gained recognition for its impressive startup speeds, with typical launch times of milliseconds, making it an ideal choice for serverless functions and microservices that demand quick scaling.

This remarkable quick start times result from a thoughtful and innovative approach to design, careful optimizations, and a focus on efficiency. Several factors contribute to Quarkus’ rapid startup capabilities:

  • Utilizes GraalVM’s native image compilation technology to convert Java applications into native machine code before execution. This process involves leveraging SubstrateVM, a component of GraalVM, to perform the translation.

This approach also enables Quarkus to create small, optimized native binaries that start up quickly and consume less memory compared to traditional Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation.

  • Quarkus leverages a combination of compile-time and runtime techniques to enhance dependency injection for efficient injection. By minimizing reflection and optimizing the injection process, Quarkkus achieves two things: a more streamlined and efficient approach to dependency injection and the elimination of unnecessary reflection, leading to smaller memory requirements.
  • Quarkus applies classpath trimming, including only essential classes and dependencies in the final executable. This helps reduce the size of the application, contributing to faster startup times.
  • Quarkus emphasizes build-time configuration enhancements, ensuring that certain configuration tasks are performed during the build process rather than at runtime.

Micronaut

Micronaut exhibits quick startup times comparable to Quarkus, thanks to its ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation and minimal runtime reflection.

  • Micronaut uses Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation to generate native executable binaries during the build process. This eliminates the need for Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation during runtime. This process results in smaller binaries and faster startup times. AOT compilation allows Micronaut to analyze and optimize the application’s dependencies during the build process, leading to a reduced memory footprint.
  • Micronaut uses a compile-time, annotation-based approach to dependency injection, eliminating the need for reflection during runtime. This reduces startup time by resolving dependencies more efficiently and also reduces the amount of metadata that needs to be loaded at runtime, resulting in lower memory consumption.
  • Micronaut includes only the necessary libraries and dependencies in the application, resulting in a minimalistic runtime and reducing the overall size of the application.
  • Micronaut allows for compile-time configuration, minimizing the need for extensive runtime configuration processing. This aids in faster startup and early detection of configuration errors.

Code Samples

2. Quarkus Code Sample

@ApplicationScoped
@RunOnVirtualThread
@Path("/api/student")
@Produces("application/json")
@Consumes("application/json")
public class StudentResource {

    @Inject
    IStudentService studentService;

    @GET
    public List<Student> get() {
        return studentService.getAll();
    }

    @GET
    @Path("{id}")
    public Student getSingle(@PathParam("id") UUID id) {
        return studentService.getById(id);
    }

    @POST
    public Response create(Student student) {
        return studentService.create(student);
    }


    @PUT
    @Path("{id}")
    public Response update(@PathParam("id") UUID id, Student student) {
        return studentService.update(id, student);
    }

    @DELETE
    @Path("{id}")
    public Response delete(@PathParam("id") UUID id) {
        return studentService.delete(id);
    }
}

3. Micronaut Code Sample

@Singleton
@Controller("/api/student")
@Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
@Consumes(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
public class StudentResource {


    @Inject
    IStudentService studentService;


    @Get
    public List<Student> get() {
        return studentService.getAll();
    }


    @Get("/{id}")
    public Student getSingle(@PathVariable UUID id) {
        return studentService.getById(id);
    }


    @Post
    public HttpResponse create(@Body Student student) {
        return studentService.create(student);
    }


    @Put("/{id}")
    public HttpResponse update(@PathVariable UUID id, @Body Student student) {
        return studentService.update(id, student);
    }


    @Delete("/{id}")
    public HttpResponse delete(@PathVariable UUID id) {
        return studentService.delete(id);
    }
}


Use Cases and Suitability

4. Scenarios where Quarkus is the better choice:

  • Quarkus is designed to be compatible with existing Jarkata EE/ Java EE applications and is built on an extension architecture, allowing for easy third-party framework integration.
  • Quarkus primarily focuses on Kubernetes cloud environments and provides an automated process for creating Kubernetes resources. It also offers serverless computing support on platforms like AWS Lambda and Azure Functions.
  • Quarkus supports Java, Kotlin, Scala, and Groovy via extensions. This might be beneficial if you work with these languages, especially Scala.
  • Both Quarkus and Micronaut allow developers to create native executables using the polyglot embeddable virtual machine GraalVM, which enhances application startup times and lowers memory usage. Quarkus has a slight advantage in this regard due to its native image support.

5. Scenarios where Micronaut is the better choice:

Micronaut could be a better choice than Quarkus in the following scenarios:

  • If you’re already invested in a Spring application, Micronaut could be a better choice because it is designed to seamlessly integrate with Spring, making it easier to incorporate into existing projects.
  • Micronaut offers robust support for SQL databases, boasting a variety of connection pools and the ability to manage multiple data sources. Additionally, the framework provides a health check for the configured JDBC source, ensuring optimal database performance. Furthermore, Micronaut’s database access capabilities are enhanced using the repository pattern with Micronaut Data, which utilizes ahead-of-time compilation to efficiently process defined queries.
  • Micronaut seamlessly connects with various messaging platforms, including MQTT, Nats.io, and RabbitMQ. These integrations share a similar philosophical approach to messaging, similar to the one found in Kafka and MQTT.

Development Experience Comparison

6. Documentation and Community Support

Quarkus provides extensive documentation and active community support, making it a great choice for developers looking for a robust and flexible framework.

  • Quarkus has a vast amount of documentation that covers a wide range of topics. It includes getting-started guides, detailed guides, FAQs, and a playlist of tips. The documentation comprises four distinct content types: concepts, how-tos, tutorials, and references. It also includes guides on specific topics like Quarkus Security, Quarkus and Gradle, Quarkus and Maven, and scripting with Quarkus.
  • Quarkus has a vibrant community that actively monitors Stack Overflow and participates in discussions. The community can be reached through various channels like Twitter, Mastodon, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Developers can also discuss the development of Quarkus with the team in the development mailing list or by Zulip Chat.
  • Quarkus is open source, meaning its dependencies are available under the Apache Software License 2.0 or a compatible license. This allows developers to use, modify, and distribute the software freely. The Quarkus website is hosted on GitHub Pages and is completely open-source. Developers can even fork the website and suggest improvements.
  • The Quarkus website updates events, blog posts, podcasts, and a newsletter. This keeps developers informed about the latest developments and trends in the Quarkus ecosystem.

Micronaut provides comprehensive documentation and strong community support, making it easier for developers to get started and find solutions to their problems.

  • The official Micronaut documentation is extensive and covers a wide range of topics. It includes guides, tutorials, and API references. The documentation is regularly updated and improved based on feedback from the community. Developers can contribute to the documentation by editing sections, fixing typos, adding new content, and more.
  • Micronaut has a vibrant community that is active on several platforms. Developers can keep up with the latest news from the Micronaut team on Twitter and discover when Micronaut team members will be at conferences and events in their area. The community also plays a crucial role in promoting the Micronaut framework and sharing case studies and solutions.
  • The Micronaut team organizes regular events and conferences where they share insights about the framework and engage with the community. These events provide opportunities for developers to learn more about Micronaut, ask questions, and network with other Micronaut users.
  • The Micronaut Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports the development of the Micronaut framework. The foundation ensures the technical innovation and advancement of the Micronaut framework, evangelizes the framework, and builds and supports an ecosystem of complementary documentation, functionality, and services.

7. Tooling

Launch pages

In order to create a project, both Quarkus and Micronaut provide dedicated launch pages, similar to Spring Initializr:

Here, we can select the framework version, the language of choice, and the components or extensions we’d like to use.

IDEs

We can create a project in an IDE, too. IntelliJ IDEA is the IDE I’m using daily. The Ultimate version provides built-in support for both frameworks, allowing for the bootstrapping of a project and decent support for writing the code, navigating through it, and running applications using IntelliJ IDEA.

The community version of IntelliJ IDEA does not provide any support for Micronaut. However, there is a plugin that is available in the community edition. This plugin is provided by RedHat, and it supports project bootstrapping with code assistance.

Micronaut and Quarkus have versatile support across various Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). Micronaut’s Eclipse integration relies on Gradle and Maven plugins, offering a streamlined experience for developers. In Visual Studio Code, a dedicated extension provides a comprehensive set of tools, including a project wizard, code assistance, and native image building with GraalVM.

Similarly, Quarkus’s IDE support extends beyond Eclipse, with an add-on available through the JBoss Tools plugin. This plugin offers a range of features, such as project creation, running configurations, debugging options, and code assistance. For Visual Studio Code users, the Quarkus extension provides an even more comprehensive set of tools, including project generation, extension management, and debugging capabilities.

Command Line Interface

Intriguingly, both frameworks share a similar feature: the ability to interact with them through a command-line interface. 

  • Micronaut provides multiple options for installing its CLI, including using SDKman, Homebrew, MacPorts, Chocolatey, or a binary file when running on Windows. This functionality allows users to quickly create a basic structure for their application using pre-defined templates.
  • The Quarkus CLI is accessible through various package managers catering to developers, including SDKMAN, Homebrew, Chocolatey, and Scoop.

Alternatively, you can install the Quarkus CLI via JBang, a lightweight, cross-platform package manager. Choose the package manager that best suits your needs and preferences for a seamless installation and update experience.

Both Quarkus and Micronaut come loaded with 38 similar CLI commands or flags. Below are some of the interesting CLI features they share in common:

  • fae, fail-at-end: this CLI flag makes the build only fail afterward and only allows all non-impacted builds to continue.
  • -ff,–fail-fast: this CLI flag causes your application to stop at first failure in reactorized builds.
  • -fn,–fail-never: this CLI flag causes your build NEVER to fail, regardless of the project result.
  • -o,–offline: this CLI flag will cause your build to work in offline mode.
  • -b,–batch-mode: this CLI flag will cause your build to Run in non-interactive (batch) mode (disables output color)

8. Application Types

Both frameworks are designed to facilitate the rapid development and deployment of microservices, which aligns with current software development trends. They allow for the creation of RESTful services as well as message-oriented services and even support serverless functions.

While the rise of serverless computing and the decreasing popularity of traditional web frameworks may seem to limit our options for creating web applications, there is still a way to build autonomous web apps using template engines. Micronaut and Quarkus, for instance, allow developers to render pages using these tools, providing a more traditional approach to web development.

If you want to create a command-line application, both frameworks offer specialized tools to help you achieve this. Not only can you use them to develop Android apps and IoT deployments, but they can also be used to create command-line applications.

Visit the GitHub repositories of Micronaut and Quarkus frameworks to explore some examples of applications developed using these technologies.

Both frameworks share a key feature: the ability to create native versions of our applications. This means leveraging GraalVM can significantly improve our Java applications’ startup times and memory usage compared to traditional Java applications.

9. Observability Capabilities

Quarkus has made several improvements to its main observability-related extensions. These include:

  • quarkus-opentelemetry: This extension provides tracing capabilities. Tracing is a powerful tool that helps understand the flow of requests through a system. It can diagnose latency issues, errors, and other problems in microservices architectures.
  • quarkus-micrometer: This extension is used for collecting metrics from your application. Metrics provide valuable insights into the performance and health of your application. They can help identify bottlenecks, track resource usage, and monitor application behavior over time. For tracing using OTEL, you have the Quarkus OTEL extension.

Micronaut provides built-in support for Micrometer, which allows integration with various monitoring systems such as Prometheus, Grafana, and others. Micronaut’s metrics support is designed to be modular and extensible.

It offers built-in support for distributed tracing using Micronaut’s tracing module. It integrates with systems like Zipkin, Jaeger, and others.

  • micronaut-tracing-opentelemetry-annotation: This extension allows developers to use OpenTelemetry annotations in their Micronaut application.
  • Micronaut-tracing-opentelemetry-http: This extension allows for the automatic generation of span objects on every HTTP server request, client request, server response, and client response.
  • opentelemetry-exporter-jaeger: This extension is a component within the OpenTelemetry Collector responsible for transmitting data to various external systems or back-ends. In other words, it acts as a bridge between the Collector and the external systems, allowing the Collector to send the collected telemetry data to its final destination.

Testing observability in dev and test

To demonstrate how observability works in these frameworks, we can use Digma.  Digma is an IDE plugin for IntelliJ that streamlines OTEL setup and allows quickly gathering and, more importantly, analyzing the app observability data.   

For Quarkus, once installed, Digma will take care of adding any observability dependencies so that we can focus on the data instead.  You can clone this sample Quarkus project, follow the instructions in the README section to get it running on IntelliJ IDEA or Visual Studio Code, and start testing the endpoints.

For Micronaut, you can equally clone this project and start testing the endpoint on your REST client. I’ll suggest you use Postman to test the endpoints. As you try the endpoints in your favorite code editor, once Digma is installed, it will start collecting observability data for you seamlessly.

10. Ease of integration and extensibility

Quarkus is engineered to effortlessly integrate with a wide range of popular tools and technologies, including container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, build tools such as Maven and Gradle, and various Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). 

This versatility enables developers to incorporate Quarkus into their existing workflows without significant interruptions or modifications, allowing for a smooth and efficient development process.

Micronaut makes it quite straightforward to integrate and extend it due to its design principles. It uses a powerful dependency injection framework to easily extend and integrate various components.

You can define interfaces and implement them with different generic-type arguments.
Micronaut provides a way to create type-safe configurations by creating classes annotated with @ConfigurationProperties. This helps in managing configurations effectively.

It also allows you to define client-specific configurations, which is useful when connecting to different services with different configurations.

11. Language Support:

Moving on to the programming languages these frameworks use, you might expect us to be limited to Java only, but that’s not the case. 

Quarkus supports not only Java but also Kotlin, Groovy, and Scala.

Micronaut supports not only Java but also Groovy and Kotlin.

12. Future sustainability of the framework.

Quarkus is backed by Red Hat, convincing management to try it easier. It is used in production by Keycloat, Vodafone, IBM, Bankdata, CORE, Red Bull Media House, Moogsoft, CVC Corp, and many other organizations.

Quarkus has over 12.7k stars on GitHub and more than 800 contributors at the time of writing.

Micronaut is backed by OCI (Object Computer, Incorporated). It is used in production by:
Mainstreet Bank, Alibaba, Target, Minecraft, Boeing, and many other organizations.

Micronaut Core, at the time of writing, has over 5.9k stars on GitHub and more than 300 contributors.

Since they are both supported by big companies, they are not going out of use anytime soon.

Conclusion: Quarkus Vs. Micronaut

Our comparison shows that Quarkus is Jakarta EE for people who want to try something different and/or have a better reason for compiling to a native executable with GraalVM.

Micronaut is Spring for developers who want to try something different and/or have a better story for compiling to a native executable with GraalVM.

Digma supports both Quarkus and Micronaut. Try it for yourself: Get Digma

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is Quarkus faster?

Micronaut takes a unique approach to dependency injection. Rather than performing this process at runtime, Micronaut handles it at compile time. This results in faster application startup times and smaller memory footprints. Additionally, Micronaut offers top-notch support for reactive programming for clients and servers.

What are the advantages of Micronaut?

Micronaut is renowned for its capacity to facilitate the development of applications and microservices with minimal memory requirements and rapid startup times. A significant advantage of the Micronaut framework is that startup time and memory usage are not directly linked to an application’s codebase size.

Why is Micronaut fast?

Micronaut, on the other hand, constructs its dependency injection data at compile time, resulting in faster application startup times and smaller memory footprints. Additionally, it offers top-notch support for reactive programming, catering to catering to client- and server-side development.

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