A Comma-Separated Values (CSV) file is a plain text file that uses a comma as a delimiter to separate values. It stores data in a tabular format where each row consists of one or more fields, and each column represents a specific field.

CSV is a widely used data exchange format in the industry due to its simplicity and better integration with existing applications. These files are usually used for exporting and importing large data sets.

In this tutorial, we shall learn how to export and download the data as a CSV file in a Spring Boot project. Data export (JSON, CSV, PDF, etc.) is a common feature implemented in many Java enterprise applications.

Project Dependencies

Since Java does not provide native support for creating and parsing CSV files, we shall use OpenCSV, a 3rd-party library for parsing and creating CSV files.

Here is what our build.gradle file looks like:


plugins {
    id 'org.springframework.boot' version '2.1.3.RELEASE'
    id 'java'

apply plugin: 'io.spring.dependency-management'

group = 'com.attacomsian'
version = '0.0.1-SNAPSHOT'
sourceCompatibility = '1.8'

repositories {

dependencies {
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-web'
    implementation 'com.opencsv:opencsv:4.5'

If you are working with a maven project, make sure you include the following maven dependency to the project's pom.xml file:


User Model

Here is our User model class being used to write to a CSV file.


package com.attacomsian.exportcsv.data;

import com.opencsv.bean.CsvBindByName;
import com.opencsv.bean.CsvBindByPosition;

public class User {

    private long id;
    private String name;
    private String email;
    private String country;
    private int age;

    public User(long id, String name, String email, String country, int age) {
        this.id = id;
        this.name = name;
        this.email = email;
        this.country = country;
        this.age = age;
    // getters and setters removed for the sake of brevity

Since we want to generate a CSV file from a list of users and then return it to the client for downloading, let's create a dummy service that acts as a data source and returns a list of users.


package com.attacomsian.exportcsv.data;

import org.springframework.stereotype.Service;

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;

public class UserService {

    public List<User> listUsers() {
        List<User> users = new ArrayList<>();

        //create dummy users
        users.add(new User(1, "Jack Lee", "jack@example.com", "Germany", 35));
        users.add(new User(2, "Jovan Srovoki", "jovan@srovoki.me", "Russia", 21));
        users.add(new User(3, "Atta", "atta@gmail.com", "Pakistan", 29));

        return users;

The UserService above is just for demo purposes. You may want to populate a list of users from the database or any other source.

Generate & Download CSV File

The following Spring MVC controller class handles the export and download of data as a CSV file.


package com.attacomsian.exportcsv.controllers;

import com.attacomsian.exportcsv.data.User;
import com.attacomsian.exportcsv.data.UserService;
import com.opencsv.CSVWriter;
import com.opencsv.bean.ColumnPositionMappingStrategy;
import com.opencsv.bean.StatefulBeanToCsv;
import com.opencsv.bean.StatefulBeanToCsvBuilder;
import org.springframework.http.HttpHeaders;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.GetMapping;

import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

public class UserController {

    private UserService userService;

    public UserController(UserService userService) {
        this.userService = userService;

    public void exportCSV(HttpServletResponse response) throws Exception {

        //set file name and content type
        String filename = "users.csv";

                "attachment; filename=\"" + filename + "\"");

        //create a csv writer
        StatefulBeanToCsv<User> writer = new StatefulBeanToCsvBuilder<User>(response.getWriter())

        //write all users to csv file

The above UserController class contains an exportCSV() method that is mapped to /export-users HTTP route and returns a CSV file as attachment for browser to download. This method does the following:

  • Set the response's content type to text/csv.
  • Use HttpHeaders.CONTENT_DISPOSITION to add "Content-Disposition" response header that indicates file attachment to the browser. It also sets the attachment file name to users.csv
  • Use response writer (response.writer() returns an object of type PrintWriter) to build an instance of StatefulBeanToCsv.
  • Use write() method of StatefulBeanToCsv instance to write a list of users to CSV file.
  • Afterwards, the data is pushed to the client where the browser downloads the attached users.csv file.

Running the Application

Below is the main application class used for running the Spring Boot project:


package com.attacomsian.exportcsv;

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;

public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);


Let's run the application by typing the following command in your terminal from the root directory of the project:

$ ./gradlew bootRun

After the Spring Boot application is started, open http://localhost:8080/export-users link in your favorite browser to generate and download the users.csv file. Here is the content of the generated CSV file:


35,Germany,jack@example.com,1,Jack Lee
21,Russia,jovan@srovoki.me,2,Jovan Srovoki

Notice the first line. OpenCSV automatically generated column headers using User class members. Another thing to note is the order of the columns in the CSV file. OpenCSV sorts the column names in ascending order before writing them into the CSV file.

OpenCSV Columns Ordering

There is no built-in functionality in OpenCSV that allows writing bean to CSV with custom column names and ordering. However, using the @CsvBindByPosition annotation, you can control the column positions in the generated CSV file. But the downside of this annotation is that it removes column headers from the generated CSV file.

public class User {

    @CsvBindByPosition(position = 0)
    private long id;
    @CsvBindByPosition(position = 1)
    private String name;
    @CsvBindByPosition(position = 2)
    private String email;
    @CsvBindByPosition(position = 3)
    private String country;
    @CsvBindByPosition(position = 4)
    private int age;

    //constructor, getting and settings 

@CsvBindByPosition specifies a binding between a column number of the CSV file and a field in a bean. This column number is zero-based (means position starts from 0).

Source code: Download the complete source code from GitHub available under MIT license.


That's all for explaining the usage of the OpenCSV library to generate and download a CSV file in Spring Boot. If you are uncomfortable using a 3rd-party library, you can write your own CSV writer. Writing a CSV file is similar to writing a text file with few exceptions.

Further Reading

If you like this article, don't forget to read the below CSV-related articles:

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