EclipseLink/UserGuide/JPA/Advanced JPA Development/Composite Persistence Units

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EclipseLink JPA

This page is being reviewed.

Composite Persistence Units

EL NewIn.png New in version 2.3.

Multiple persistence units with unique sets of entity types can be exposed as a single persistence context by using a composite persistence unit. A persistent unit that is part of a composite persistent unit is called a composite member persistent unit.

With composite persistence units:

  • Mapping relationships can be established among any of the entities in the composite.
  • The persistence context can access entities stored in different data sources.
  • Queries and transactions can be performed transparently across the complete set of entities.

For example, you could persist data from a single context into different data sources, as shown below:

em.persist(new A(..));
em.persist(new Z(..));
// Insert A into database1; insert Z into database2:
// the two databases can be from different vendors.

Configuring Composite Persistence and Composite Member Persistence Units

As with regular persistence units, composite persistence units and their member persistence units can be configured in persistence.xml and/or by passing allowed properties to the CreateEntityManagerFactory() method of EntityManagerFactory. //REVIEWERS: Is that generic statement about using persistence.xml or CreateEntityManagerFactory correct? Does it need to be qualified in any way?// //ANDREI: I would remove it (it's been removed from the design doc )- it's confusing (also createEntityManager method is defined on Persistence interface). What I was trying to say is that composite Persistence Unit created exactly in the same way as regular persistence unit//

Certain properties must be defined on the composite persistence unit; certain properties must be defined on composite member persistence units; and other properties may be defined on either.

  • The transaction type must be specified in the composite persistence unit. Transaction types of composite members are ignored.
  • Data sources must be specified in composite member persistence units. Those specified in the composite are ignored.
  • The eclipselink.composite-unit property must be set on the composite persistent unit.
  • The eclipselink.composite-unit.member property can only be set on composite member persitent units.

The Persistence Unit Properties table and the Entity Manager Properties tables, below, show how those and other properties are processed, depending on whether they are set on the composite or on the member persistent unit.

Configuring Composite Persistent Units in persistence.xml

A minimal configuration of a composite persistent unit in persistence.xml requires the following:

  • Use the eclipselink.composite-unit property to specify that it is a composite persistence unit. (Note: If this property is passed to the createEntityManagerFactory method or if it is set in system properties, it is ignored.)
  • Use the <jar-file> element to specify the jar files containing the composite member persistent units. The composite persistence unit will contain all the persistence units found in the jar files specified.

For example,

    <property name="eclipselink.composite-unit" value="true"/>

Configuring Composite Member Persistent Units in persistence.xml

Use the eclipselink.composite-unit.member property to specify whether or not a persistent unit should be a member of a composite persistence unit:

  • true specifies that the persistent unit must be a member of a composite persistence unit.
  • false specifies that the persistent unit cannot be a member of a composite persistence unit (if, for example, it has dependencies on other persistence unit(s)).

For example,

    <property name="eclipselink.composite-unit.member" value="true"/>

The eclipselink.composite-unit.member property is not required and defaults to false if not specified. //REVIEWERS: <-- Is that statement true?// //ANDREI: Yes. "true" required only in case the persistence unit cannot be used independently (not as a composite member)//

Note: If eclipselink.composite-unit.member is passed to the createEntityManagerFactory method or if it is set in system properties, it is ignored.

//REVIEWERS: Design doc also says "If this property is set to true, the EntityManagerFactory can still be created, but it cannot be connected." I don't understand, as true is perfectly valid, no?// //ANDREI: true is perfectly valid. That means persistence unit can only be used as a member of composite - cannot be used as an independent persistence unit. Motivation: persistence unit that has dependency on classes in other persistence unit(s) - impossible to use standalone, still possible to use as a member of composite, of course the persistence unit(s) on which it depends should also be members in the same composite. Logically I would prefer to fail when the factory is created - but that would be a problem with application servers, so the next best solution is to fail on attempt to actually use the factory - createEntityManager//

Passing EntityManagerFactory Properties to Composite Member Persistent Units

While creating a composite persistent unit, EntityManagerFactory properties can be passed to composite member persistent units, as shown in the following example. The value is a map of properties, and the key is a member persistence unit's name. The map of properties is passed to that persistence unit.

//REVIEWERS: I don't completely understand this part. I have these general questions:

  1. When (why) would one want to do this? That is, why do you want to use this instead of persistence.xml?
  2. I think this part of the design doc (search for "While creating Composite PU EntityManagerFactory") says that you define the properties on the composite and then pass them to the members. Is that correct? But why not define them on the members directly?
  3. If I got item 2, above, correct, are there times when you want to define the properties directly on the composite? directly on the members?


The design doc (quoting the Javadoc) says this:

"" -> (
   ("memberPu1" -> (   "javax.persistence.jdbc.user" -> "user1", 
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.password" -> "password1",
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.driver" -> "oracle.jdbc.OracleDriver",
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.url" -> "jdbc:oracle:thin:@oracle_db_url:1521:db",
                    ) , 
   ("memberPu2" -> (   "javax.persistence.jdbc.user" -> "user2",
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.password" -> "password2"
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.driver" -> "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver",
                          "javax.persistence.jdbc.url" -> "jdbc:mysql://my_sql_db_url:3306/user2",

I tried to convert to code, below, but I know this isn't quite right. I think it just shows how to set the properties directly on the members (does it?). I'm not sure how to use itself. Please correct, as needed. // //ANDREI:With regular persistence unit user has an option to override properties specified in persistence.xml with the new ones passed to createEntityManagerFactory method. The goal is to keep the same persistence.xml, but to alter at runtime some properties - for instance connection parameters. To do the same for composite member persistence units is used - the value is a Map that keyed on composite member pu names, value is a Map that contains all properties to be passed to this member pu//
Map props1 = new HashMap();
   props1.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_USER, "user1");
   props1.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_PASSWORD, "password1");
   props1.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_DRIVER, "oracle.jdbc.OracleDriver");
   props1.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_URL, "jdbc:oracle:thin:@oracle_db_url:1521:db");
Map props2 = new HashMap();
   props2.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_USER, "user2");
   props2.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_PASSWORD, "password2");
   props2.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_DRIVER, "oracle.mysql.OracleDriver");
   props2.put(PersistenceUnitProperties.JDBC_URL, " jdbc:mysql:@oracle_sql_url:3306/user2");
Map memberProps = new HashMap();
   memberProps.put("memberPu1", props1);
   memberProps.put("memberPu2", props2);
Map props = new HashMap();
   props.put("", memberProps);
EntityManagerFactory emf = Persistence.createEntityManagerFactory("composite", props);


In the following example, the composite persistence unit compositePU specifies the transaction type and the server platform. It will contain all persistence units defined in member1.jar and member2.jar files.

<persistence xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation=" persistence_1_0.xsd" version="1.0">
    <persistence-unit name="compositePu" transaction-type="JTA">
            <property name="eclipselink.composite-unit" value="true"/>
            <property name="" value="WebLogic_10"/>

In the following example, the composite member persistence unit memberPu1 is defined in the member1.jar file. It can be used independently as well as inside composite persistence unit.

<persistence xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation=" persistence_1_0.xsd" version="1.0">
    <persistence-unit name="memberPu1" transaction-type="JTA">
            <property name="" value="WebLogic_10"/>
            <property name="" value=""/>

In the following example, the composite member persistence unit memberPu2 is defined in the member2.jar file. It has dependency on a class defined in member1.jar and cannotbe used independently.

<persistence xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation=" persistence_1_0.xsd" version="1.0">
    <persistence-unit name="memberPu2">
            <property name="eclipselink.composite-unit.member" value="true"/>
            <property name="" value="org.eclipse.persistence.platform.database.MySQLPlatform"/>

Deploying and Accessing a Composite Persistence Unit

All three jars – the composite and the two members– should be deployed on the same class loader. If they are deployed to an application server, the jars should be packed in an ear file. If they run standalone, the jars should be added to the class path.

A composite persistence unit can be accessed as with any other persistence unit.

  • It can be accessed using injection, for example:
EntityManagerFactory entityManagerFactory;
EntityManager entityManager;
EntityManagerFactory entityManagerFactory = Persistence.createEntityManagerFactory("compositePu", properties);

Persistence Unit Properties

Persistence unit properties can be set on the EntityManagerFactory as follow:

  • Composite persistence unit properties can be specified either in the composite persistence unit's persistence.xml file or passed to the its createEntityManagerFactory() method.
  • Composite member persistence unit properties can either be specified in the composite member persistence unit's persistence.xml file or passed to the composite persistence unit's createEntityManagerFactory() method through the property.

//REVIEWERS: Can't the properties also be passed to createEntityManager()? If so, why would you do that instead of using createEntityManagerFactory()?// //ANDREI: Not all properties that could be passed to createEMF could be passed to createEM. Also properties passed to createEMF applied to all EMs created by the factory.</tt>?//

The following table shows how properties set on a composite persistence unit and its members are handled when properties are set on both. //REVIEWERS: Is that correct?// //ANDREI: "when properties are set on both" sounds a bit confusing, but correct// For complete PersistenceUnitProperties> reference documentation, see [|PersistenceUnitProperties].

PersistenceUnitProperties. property name composite pu composite member pu comment
COMPOSITE_UNIT eclipselink.composite-unit Processed Advanced If specified by member then the member is substituted for its own members. //REVIEWERS: I think this means "If specified by a composite member persistence unit ..." But what does the rest of the sentence mean?

//ANDREI: If member itself is a composite then it's substituted by its members

Also, what does "Advanced" mean?// It's an advanced feature: you would not normally do it - but it's still possible. May be to avoid confusion it would be better to remove those 2 "advanced", put "ignored" instead? The only problem is that would be not true...//

COMPOSITE_UNIT_MEMBER eclipselink.composite-unit.member Advanced Processed if specified by composite persistence unit, the composite must be member of another composite persistence unit. //REVIEWERS: This suggests that composite PUs can be composite member PUs of other composite PUs. Is that correct? Any limitations?//

//ANDREI: Yes. All pus involved should have unique names//

TRANSACTION_TYPE javax.persistence.transactionType Processed Ignored
TARGET_SERVER Processed Ignored
LOGGING_* eclipselink.logging.* Processed Ignored
PROFILER eclipselink.profiler Processed Ignored
COORDINATION_* eclipselink.cache.coordination.* Processed Ignored
SESSION_NAME eclipselink.session-name Processed Advanced The member session name is used to read the session from sessions.xml, but the deployed session always has the same name as the member persistence unit (as it is defined in memberPuInfo.getPersistenceUnitName())
DEPLOY_ON_STARTUP eclipselink.deploy-on-startup Processed Ignored
VALIDATION_ONLY_PROPERTY eclipselink.validation-only Processed processed //REVIEWERS: bug 348815: WRONG BEHAVIOUR, should be processed by composite only, ignored by member persistence unit. Workaround for now: specify the property in the composite and in all its members.//

//ANDREI: It's a known bug in 2.3. The users should know this and should have a workaround//

VALIDATION_* eclipselink.validation.* Processed Ignored
CLASSLOADER eclipselink.classloader Processed Ignored
THROW_EXCEPTIONS eclipselink.orm.throw.exceptions Processed Ignored
FLUSH_CLEAR_CACHE eclipselink.flush-clear.cache Processed Ignored
VALIDATE_EXISTENCE eclipselink.validate-existence Processed Ignored
JOIN_EXISTING_TRANSACTION eclipselink.transaction.join-existing Processed Ignored
PERSISTENCE_CONTEXT_* eclipselink.persistence-context.* Processed Ignored
ALLOW_ZERO_ID eclipselink.allow-zero-id Processed Ignored
SESSION_CUSTOMIZER eclipselink.session.customizer Processed Processed Customizers of member persistence units are processed before the composite persistence unit's customizer.
SESSIONS_XML eclipselink.sessions-xml Exception Processed Composite persitence units cannot be read from sessions.xml. Note that a non-composite persistence unit should be able to use a SessionBroker defined in sessions.xml.
JTA_DATASOURCE javax.persistence.jtaDataSource Ignored Processed
NON_JTA_DATASOURCE javax.persistence.nonJtaDataSource Ignored Processed
NATIVE_SQL eclipselink.jdbc.native-sql Ignored Processed
SQL_CAST eclipselink.jdbc.sql-cast Ignored Processed
JDBC_* javax.persistence.jdbc.* eclipselink.jdbc.* Ignored Processed
CONNECTION_POOL_* Ignored Processed
PARTITIONING.* eclipselink.partitioning.* Ignored Processed
EXCLUSIVE_CONNECTION_* eclipselink.jdbc.exclusive-connection.* Ignored Processed
CACHE.* eclipselink.cache.* Ignored Processed
TARGET_DATABASE Ignored Processed
TABLE_CREATION_SUFFIX eclipselink.ddl-generation.table-creation-suffix Ignored Processed
EXCLUDE_ECLIPSELINK_ORM_FILE eclipselink.exclude-eclipselink-orm Ignored Processed
WEAVING eclipselink.weaving Processed Ignored A composite persistent unit switches weaving on and off for all its member persistent units.
WEAVING_* eclipselink.weaving.* Ignored Processed If the weaving is on, members use their own weaving properties.
DESCRIPTOR_CUSTOMIZER_* eclipselink.descriptor.customizer.* Ignored Processed //REVIEWERS: what about this from design doc: "TODO? Should we follow the same pattern as SessionCustomizer and process composite's DescriptorCustomizers after members' ones?"//

//ANDREI: Skip it - it's has not been implemented//

NATIVE_QUERY_UPPERCASE_COLUMNS eclipselink.jdbc.uppercase-columns Ignored Processed
UPPERCASE_COLUMN_NAMES eclipselink.jpa.uppercase-column-names Ignored Processed
BATCH_WRITING.* eclipselink.jdbc.batch-writing.* Ignored Processed
SESSION_EVENT_LISTENER_CLASS eclipselink.session-event-listener Processed Processed EventListener defined by a composite member won't receive evens risen by a UnitOfWork - only events risen by it's member. Also see bug 348766. EventListener specified by composite will receive all event (risen by either unit of work or members).
Exception_HANDLER_CLASS eclipselink.exception-handler Processed Processed First ExceptionHandler specified by member handles exception. If it is not specified or fails then composite's ExceptionHandler handles the original exception.
INCLUDE_DESCRIPTOR_QUERIES eclipselink.session.include.descriptor.queries Ignored Processed
ID_VALIDATION Ignored Processed
TEMPORAL_MUTABLE eclipselink.temporal.mutable Ignored Processed
ORM_SCHEMA_VALIDATION eclipselink.orm.validate.schema Ignored Processed
DDL_* Ignored Processed
PESSIMISTIC_LOCK_TIMEOUT javax.persistence.lock.timeout Ignored Processed
QUERY_TIMEOUT javax.persistence.query.timeout Ignored Processed
ORACLE_PROXY_TYPE Ignored Processed

Entity Manager Properties

Persistence unit properties can be set on the EntityManager as follow:

  • Composite entity manager properties can be passed directly to the createEntityManager() method or to the setProperty method.
  • Composite member properties can be passed to the same methods through the property.
EntityManagerProperties. property name composite pu composite member pu comment
FLUSH_CLEAR_CACHE eclipselink.flush-clear.cache Processed Ignored
VALIDATE_EXISTENCE eclipselink.validate-existence Processed Ignored
JOIN_EXISTING_TRANSACTION eclipselink.transaction.join-existing Processed Ignored
PERSISTENCE_CONTEXT_* eclipselink.persistence-context.* Processed Ignored
ORDER_UPDATES eclipselink.order-updates Processed Ignored
EXCLUSIVE_CONNECTION_* eclipselink.jdbc.exclusive-connection.* Ignored Processed
JDBC_DRIVER javax.persistence.jdbc.driver Ignored Processed
JDBC_URL javax.persistence.jdbc.url Ignored Processed
JDBC_USER javax.persistence.jdbc.user Ignored Processed
JDBC_PASSWORD javax.persistence.jdbc.password Ignored Processed
JTA_DATASOURCE javax.persistence.jtaDataSource Ignored Processed
NON_JTA_DATASOURCE javax.persistence.nonJtaDataSource Ignored Processed
CONNECTION_POLICY eclipselink.jdbc.connection-policy Ignored Processed
ORACLE_PROXY_TYPE Ignored Processed


Joins across tables in different data sources are not supported. This limitation affects mapping, query execution, and optimizations. For example:

  • Entities mapped in different composite members cannot be joined in a query.
  • If deleting an entity causes deletion from a table that is mapped by another composite member, then a "delete all" query cannot be performed. Therefore a delete all cannot be used if an entity:
    • has ElementCollection mapped in another composite member,
    • owns bidirectional relationship with a JoinTable with the target mapped in another composite member,
    • has any reference mapping that is privately owned with the target mapped in another composite member.

The inheritance hierarchy cannot be shared between different composite members.

If the target of a reference mapping is defined in a different composite member and JoinTable is used, the join table must belong to the target composite member. Such mappings must be unidirectional: the "invert" mapping cannot use mappedBy. That is because JoinTable must be defined in the same composite member with the target entity. Master mapping requires it to be in slave's member, slave mapping - in master's.You can work around this limitation by defining independent invert mapping with its own JoinTable. If you maintain both sides of the relationship, the two join tables will be in sync.

A native query created without a result class must specify the target composite member persistence unit, for example:

em.createNativeQuery("SELECT F_NAME FROM MBR2_EMPLOYEE").setHint(QueryHints.COMPOSITE_UNIT_MEMBER, "composite-advanced-member_2").getResultList();


You can specify ElementCollection with primitive type target values with CollectionTable defined in a different composite member persistence unit, using annotations or eclipselink-orm.xml as described below:

  • Annotations
@CollectionTable(name = "MBR1_RESPONS", joinColumns=@JoinColumn(name="EMP_ID"))
@Column(name = "DESCRIPTION")
public Collection<String> getResponsibilities() {
    return responsibilities;
  • eclipselink-orm.xml
<element-collection name="responsibilities" composite-member="xml-composite-advanced-member_3">
    <column name="DESCRIPTION"/>
    <collection-table name="XML_MBR3_RESPONS">
        <join-column name="EMP_ID"/>

No @CompositeMember annotation (or composite-member attribute) is required if CollectionTable is defined in the same composite member persistence unit as the source.