New Features in JPA 2.0

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Java EE 6 with GlassFish 3 Application Server

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A practical guide to install and configure the GlassFish 3 Application Server and develop Java EE 6 applications to be deployed to this server

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by David R. Heffelfinger | July 2010 | Java Open Source

In this article by David Heffelfinger, author of the book Java EE 6 with GlassFish 3 Application Server, we will look at how to build queries programmatically through the JPA 2.0 Criteria API and automating data validation through JPA 2.0's Bean Validation support.

(For more resources on Java, see here.)

Version 2.0 of the JPA specification introduces some new features to make working with JPA even easier. In the following sections, we discuss some of these new features:

Criteria API

One of the main additions to JPA in the 2.0 specification is the introduction of the Criteria API. The Criteria API is meant as a complement to the Java Persistence Query Language (JPQL).

Although JPQL is very flexible, it has some problems that make working with it more difficult than necessary. For starters, JPQL queries are stored as strings and the compiler has no way of validating JPQL syntax. Additionally, JPQL is not type safe. We could write a JPQL query in which our where clause could have a string value for a numeric property and our code would compile and deploy just fine.

To get around the JPQL limitations described in the previous paragraph, the Criteria API was introduced to JPA in version 2.0 of the specification. The Criteria API allows us to write JPA queries programmatically, without having to rely on JPQL.

The following code example illustrates how to use the Criteria API in our Java EE 6 applications:

package net.ensode.glassfishbook.criteriaapi;

import java.util.List;

import javax.persistence.EntityManager;
import javax.persistence.EntityManagerFactory;
import javax.persistence.PersistenceUnit;
import javax.persistence.TypedQuery;
import ja vax.persistence.criteria.CriteriaBuilder;
import javax.persistence.criteria.CriteriaQuery;
import javax.persistence.criteria.Path;
import javax.persistence.criteria.Predicate;
import javax.persistence.criteria.Root;
import javax.persistence.metamodel.EntityType;
import javax.persistence.metamodel.Metamodel;
import javax.persistence.metamodel.SingularAttribute;
import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.annotation.WebServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

@WebServlet(urlPatterns = {"/criteriaapi"})
public class CriteriaApiDemoServlet extends HttpServlet
@PersistenceUnit(unitName = "customerPersistenceUnit")
private EntityManagerFactory entityManagerFactory;

protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request,
HttpServletResponse response) throws ServletException,
PrintWriter printWriter = response.getWriter();
List<UsState> matchingStatesList;
EntityManager entityManager =
CriteriaBuilder criteriaBuilder =
CriteriaQuery<UsState> criteriaQuery =
Root<UsState> root = criteriaQuery.from(UsState.class);

Metamodel metamodel = entityManagerFactory.getMetamodel();
EntityType<UsState> usStateEntityType =
SingularAttribute<UsState, String> usStateAttribute =
Path<String> path = root.get(usStateAttribute);
Predicate predicate =, "New%");
criteriaQuery = criteriaQuery.where(predicate);
TypedQuery typedQuery = entityManager.createQuery(criteriaQuery);

matchingStatesList = typedQuery.getResultList();
printWriter.println("The following states match the
for (UsState state : matchingStatesList)
printWriter.println(state.getUsStateNm() + "<br/>");

This example takes advantage of the Criteria APIc.

When writing code using the Criteria API, the first thing we need to do is to obtain an instance of a class implementing the javax.persistence.criteria. CriteriaBuilder interface. As we can see in the previous example, we need to obtain said instance by invoking the getCriteriaBuilder() method on our EntityManager.

From our CriteriaBuilder implementation, we need to obtain an instance of a class implementing the javax.persistence.criteria.CriteriaQuery interface. We do this by invoking the createQuery() method in our CriteriaBuilder implementation. Notice that CriteriaQuery is generically typed. The generic type argument dictates the type of result that our CriteriaQuery implementation will return upon execution. By taking advantage of generics in this way, the Criteria API allows us to write type safe code.

Once we have obtained a CriteriaQuery implementation, from it we can obtain an instance of a class implementing the javax.persistence.criteria.Root interface. The Root implementation dictates what JPA entity we will be querying from. It is analogous to the FROM query in JPQL (and SQL).

The next two lines in our example take advantage of another new addition to the JPA specification—the Metamodel API. In order to take advantage of the Metamodel API, we need to obtain an implementation of the javax.persistence. metamodel.Metamodel interface by invoking the getMetamodel() method on our EntityManagerFactory.

From our Metamodel implementation, we can obtain a generically typed instance of the javax.persistence.metamodel.EntityType interface. The generic type argument indicates the JPA entity our EntityType implementation corresponds to. EntityType allows us to browse the persistent attributes of our JPA entities at runtime. This is exactly what we do in the next line in our example. In our case, we are getting an instance of SingularAttribute, which maps to a simple, singular attribute in our JPA entity. EntityType has methods to obtain attributes that map to collections, sets, lists, and maps. Obtaining these types of attributes is very similar to obtaining a SingularAttribute, therefore we won't be covering those directly. Refer to the Java EE 6 API documentation at docs/api/ for more information.

As we can see in our example, SingularAttribute contains two generic type arguments. The first argument dictates the JPA entity we are working with and the second one indicates the type of attribute. We obtain our SingularAttribute by invoking the getDeclaredSingularAttribute() method on our EntityType implementation and passing the attribute name (as declared in our JPA entity) as a String.

Once we have obtained our SingularAttribute implementation, we need to obtain an import javax.persistence.criteria.Path implementation by invoking the get() method in our Root instance and passing our SingularAttribute as a parameter.

In our example, we will get a list of all the "new" states in the United States (that is, all states whose names start with "New"). Of course, this is the job of a "like" condition. We can do this with the Criteria API by invoking the like() method on our CriteriaBuilder implementation. The like() method takes our Path implementation as its first parameter and the value to search for as its second parameter.

CriteriaBuilder has a number of methods that are analogous to SQL and JPQL clauses such as equals(), greaterThan(), lessThan(), and(), or(), and so on and so forth (for the complete list, refer to the Java EE 6 documentation at These methods can be combined to create complex queries via the Criteria API.

The like() method in CriteriaBuilder returns an implementation of the javax.persistence.criteria.Predicate interface, which we need to pass to the where() method in our CriteriaQuery implementation. This method returns a new instance of CriteriaBuilder which we assign to our criteriaBuilder variable.

At this point, we are ready to build our query. When working with the Criteria API, we deal with the javax.persistence.TypedQuery interface, which can be thought of as a type-safe version of the Query interface we use with JPQL. We obtain an instance of TypedQuery by invoking the createQuery() method in EntityManager and passing our CriteriaQuery implementation as a parameter.

To obtain our query results as a list, we simply invoke getResultList() on our TypedQuery implementation. It is worth reiterating that the Criteria API is type safe. Therefore, attempting to assign the results of getResultList() to a list of the wrong type would result in a compilation error.

After building, packaging, and deploying our code, then pointing the browser to our servlet's URL, we should see all the "New" states displayed in the browser.

Bean Validation support

Another new feature introduced in JPA 2.0 is support for JSR 303, Bean Validation. Bean Validation support allows us to annotate our JPA entities with Bean Validation annotations. These annotations allow us to easily validate user input and perform data sanitation.

Taking advantage of Bean Validation is very simple, all we need to do is annotate our JPA entity fields or getter methods with any of the validation annotations defined in the javax.validation.constraints package. Once our fields are annotated as appropriate, the EntityManager will prevent non-validating data from being persisted.

The following code example is a modified version of the Customer JPA entity. It has been modifed to take advantage of Bean Validation in some of its fields.

package net.ensode.glassfishbook.jpa.beanvalidation;


import javax.persistence.Column;
import javax.persistence.Entity;
import javax.persistence.Id;
import javax.persistence.Table;
import javax.validation.constraints.NotNull;
import javax.validation.constraints.Size;

@Table(name = "CUSTOMERS")
public class Customer implements Serializable
@Column(name = "CUSTOMER_ID")
private Long customerId;

@Column(name = "FIRST_NAME")
@Size(min=2, max=20)
private String firstName;

@Column(name = "LAST_NAME")
@Size(min=2, max=20)
private String lastName;

private String email;

public Long getCustomerId()
return customerId;
public void setCustomerId(Long customerId)
this.customerId = customerId;
public String getEmail()
return email;
public void setEmail(String email)
{ = email;
public String getFirstName()
return firstName;
public void setFirstName(String firstName)
this.firstName = firstName;
public String getLastName()
return lastName;
public void setLastName(String lastName)
this.lastName = lastName;

In this example, we used the @NotNull annotation to prevent the firstName and lastName of our entity from being persisted with null values. We also used the @Size annotation to restrict the minimum and maximum length of these fields.

This is all we need to do to take advantage of Bean Validation in JPA. If our code attempts to persist or update an instance of our entity that does not pass the declared validation, an exception of type javax.validation.ConstraintViolationException will be thrown and the entity will not be persisted.

As we can see, Bean Validation pretty much automates data validation, freeing us from having to manually write validation code.

In addition to the two annotations discussed in the previous example, the javax.validation.constraints package contains several additional annotations that we can use to automate validation on our JPA entities. Refer to the Java EE 6 API documentation at for the complete list.


In this article, we discussed some new JPA 2.0 features such as the Criteria API that allows us to build JPA queries programmatically, the Metamodel API that allows us to take advantage of Java's type safety when working with JPA, and Bean Validation that allows us to easily validate input by simply annotating our JPA entity fields.

Further resources on this subject:

Java EE 6 with GlassFish 3 Application Server A practical guide to install and configure the GlassFish 3 Application Server and develop Java EE 6 applications to be deployed to this server
Published: July 2010
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About the Author :

David R. Heffelfinger

David Heffelfinger is the Chief Technology Officer of Ensode Technology, LLC, a software consulting firm based in the greater Washington DC area. He has been architecting, designing and developing software professionally since 1995 and has been using Java as his primary programming language since 1996. He has worked on many large scale projects for several clients including the US Department of Homeland Security, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the US Department of Defense. He has a Masters degree in Software Engineering from Southern Methodist University. David is editor in chief of (, a website about Java, Linux, and other technology topics.

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