A big announcement at Spring One in September 2013 was Spring.IO, a one stop shop for exploring Spring Framework that makes it easy to get started. The projects section is focused on the individual libraries and technology components that fall under the umbrella of the Spring Framework, while the guides section has many tutorials going through the use of a particular set of technologies to solve a specific problem. Both the guides and the projects have sample projects, but the guides section is more focused on solving the needs of the user. As such it is a better place to start.
Notably, the guide projects all make use of spring-boot, which (among other things) make it ridiculously easy to start up a server because it uses an embedded server rather than requiring deployment via WAR file to an existing server. This follows the trend that I noted previously: that containerless web applications are becoming more popular in the Java world because of ease of use.
For instance: here is a ready-made containerless restful web application that works straight out of the box: https://github.com/spring-guides/gs-rest-service. You can just download, build, and run it, and hit the endpoint http://localhost:8080/greeting with your browser. To quote someone famous, “It just works!”
I used the guides as inspiration for a new containerless application, and will be recreating my old containerless application from scratch using spring-boot.