Architecting Your Application with Spring, Hibernate, and Patterns

  • Paul Tepper Fisher
  • Brian D. Murphy


Throughout this book, we will demonstrate how Spring integrates with key persistence frameworks and strategies. Along the way, you will learn more about Spring’s features and capabilities, and some of the key design patterns it uses to get the job done effectively. Until several years ago, simple Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) was one of the most popular choices for implementing an application’s persistence tier. However, EJB and open source ORM frameworks such as Hibernate have significantly changed the persistence landscape, by allowing developers to focus on a Java-based domain model, maintaining the object-oriented semantics of Java while still working with the relational concepts of a SQL database. ORM offers a level of abstraction that affords increased flexibility by decoupling application code from the lower-level details of a relational database.

However, things aren’t always as easy as they seem. ORM is not without its drawbacks and consequences. First, as we mentioned earlier, there is the impedance mismatch between the object-oriented Java world and the relational SQL world. ORM frameworks, such as Hibernate, do their best to address this mismatch by offering extensive options for mapping between SQL and Java. Nevertheless, fundamental differences between these two spheres will always exist, and therefore can’t be fully addressed.

Despite some of these limitations, ORM frameworks offer unparalleled benefits by streamlining the way in which developers work with a relational database. For instance, Hibernate introduces ancillary features, such as caching and lazy loading, which can improve the performance of an application dramatically with little or no additional coding effort. Hibernate and JPA also provide tools to seamlessly generate database schemas and even keep them in sync with the Java-based domain model. These features make the integration between application code and database even more seamless—to the point that it is often possible to forget that you are using a database altogether!

With an IoC container at its core, Spring helps to reduce application complexity, as well as coupling between classes, by handling the details necessary to integrate one dependency with another. Spring also provides transactional behavior, AOP capability, and infrastructural classes for numerous persistence frameworks, such as Hibernate and JPA.

Hibernate is an ORM framework intended to translate between relational databases and the realm of object-oriented development. Hibernate provides a querying interface, using Hibernate Query Language (HQL) or the Hibernate Criteria API. Together, Spring and Hibernate are a dynamic duo, capable of simplifying dependency collaboration, reducing coupling, and providing abstractions over persistence operations.

JPA is a Java standard for persistence, the design of which was significantly influenced by the Hibernate developers. Hibernate can be used as an implementation provider for JPA, allowing you to adhere to standards and gain framework portability, while still utilizing the excellent Hibernate implementation. However, there are some useful features that are not available in JPA, but are present only in the Hibernate implementation. With the release of JPA 2.0, many of the limitations of the JPA spec have been addressed, bringing more parity to Hibernate and JPA. For instance, JPA 2.0 now provides a Criteria API for querying in an object-oriented manner, and compile-time checking. In this chapter, we outlined the foundational layers of a typical persistence tier, which is composed of the domain model, the DAO layer, and the service facade. We also discussed some integral design patterns leveraged by the Spring Framework, such as the Template design pattern. Although adhering to the typical foundational layers for your persistence tier is usually the best approach, some newer frameworks follow slightly different strategies, such as using the Active-Record pattern.

In the next chapter, we will build on the concepts and patterns introduced in this chapter as we incrementally build a Gallery application using Spring and Hibernate. Over the course of this book, it is our aim to illustrate time-tested and pragmatic best practices that we hope you will be able to use in your own applications as well.

Before we start coding, it’s important to understand some of the core Spring and Hibernate concepts. So in the next chapter you will learn about Spring’s architecture and capabilities, such as dependency injection, AOP, and persistence-related features.


Design Pattern Business Logic Service Layer Template Pattern Open Source Framework 
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© Paul Tepper Fisher and Brian D. Murphy 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Tepper Fisher
  • Brian D. Murphy

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