15 September 2010

OSGi Support in JPA 2.0 Persistence Providers

About three years ago, I started working with Hibernate in an OSGi environment, and at that time, I had to roll my own solution for resolving all sorts of classloader issues.

Since then, with OSGi 4.2 and JPA 2.0, there have been major specification releases, followed by implementations; OSGi is growing ever more popular, and the current release of the JPA standard has integrated a lot of functionality which used to be available in proprietary API extensions only.

The OSGi 4.2 Enterprise Specification includes JPA, JTA and JDBC services, so in theory, using JPA in an OSGi environment should stop being an issue, as soon as this specification is supported by all OSGi and JPA implementations.

In practice, the specifications are not yet fully covered by the available implementations, and the degree of OSGi support varies a lot.

In the past few months, I have worked with the current versions of the three certified JPA 2.0 persistence providers, and in my opinion, the ranking for OSGi support is quite clear:
  1. Eclipselink
  2. OpenJPA
  3. Hibernate
Some more details on each provider:


Eclipselink has a fully osgified distribution containing OSGi bundles of Eclipselink itself and all dependencies. To make your entity classes visible to Eclipselink, all you need to do is add a JPA-PersistenceUnits manifest header to each bundle containing one or more persistence units. This is enough for Eclipselink to load all your XML metadata and entity classes.

No ugly hacks, no buddy policies or fragments, it just works out of the box.

So for a quick start with JPA under OSGi, Eclipslink is definitely the best choice, even though the OSGi 4.2 JPA Service Specification is not yet fully supported (for instance, the Meta-Persistence header does not work), but this will be of little or no concern to most users.

Leaving OSGi aside, I have been bitten by a number of bugs in Eclipselink, discussed in earlier articles. If you do not use any of these features, you may be very happy with Eclipselink. For me, this set of bugs is currently a no-go, so I have migrated my OSGi applications from Eclipselink to OpenJPA.


The silver medal goes to OpenJPA: OSGi does not appear to be on the top of the agenda of the OpenJPA core developers, but since OpenJPA is used under OSGi by Aries, another Apache project, there is at least a certain level of OSGi support.

In the binary distribution, the OpenJPA aggregate JAR is an OSGi bundle, but most of the dependencies are plain old JARs, so you need to find osgified versions of the dependencies on your own. The same goes for the Maven artifacts.

Once you have downloaded the appropriate OSGi bundles, you still have to do some extra work to ensure that OpenJPA finds your persistence units and your entity classes, and there are a couple of minor issues with the enhancer and with user-defined value handlers.

I will explain the details of my setup and some of the problems that should be addressed in OpenJPA in my next post.


Sadly, regarding OSGi support, Hibernate 3.5.x is not much different from the 3.2.x release I discussed in my earlier articles. The distribution contains plain old JARs, no OSGi bundles. The latest osgified version available from the SpringSource Enterprise Bundle Repository is 3.4.0, and the SpringSource versions never used to work for me, so I expect that the steps described in my 2008 article are still required to make Hibernate work on OSGi.

Disclaimer: I did not try to make Hibernate 3.5 work on OSGi, due to its lack of support of a number of JPA 2.0 features used heavily by my applications. For this reason, I have stopped using Hibernate, both on OSGi and on Java EE.

1 comment:

Christian Schneider said...

As an update for the current situation:
Hibernate 4.2.15 (for jpa 2.0) as well as Hibernate 4.3.x (for jpa 2.1) work very well in OSGi now.