EclipseLink/UserGuide/JPA/Basic JPA Development/Querying/Query Casting

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Query Casting

Use query casting to query across attributes in subclasses when using JPA or ORM. This feature is available in JPQL, EclipseLink Expressions and Criteria API.

The following examples show how to use EclipseLink to define queries on inheritance hierarchies with down casting to specific classes.

JPA 2.0 Type

Starting with JPA 2.0, it is possible to limit the results or a query to those of a specific subclass. For example, the expression framework provides Expression.type(Class).

For example, the following query retrieves all the LargeProjects (subclass of Project) from Employee:

select p from Employee e join e.projects p where type(p) = LargeProject 

Downcasting in JPQL

In JPQL, downcasting is accomplished in the FROM clause, using TREAT...AS in the JOIN clause. For example:

select e from Employee e join TREAT(e.projects AS LargeProject) lp where lp.budget = value

JPA Criteria API

Starting with JPA 2.0, the JPA Criteria API includes the casting operator Expression.as(type). This expression does a simple cast that allows matching of types within the generics.

EclipseLink extends the Criteria API to allow a cast using Expression.as(type). The as method checks the hierarchy; and if type is a subclass of the type for the expression that is being called on, a cast is implemented. The following example shows a criteria query that does a cast:

Root<Employee> empRoot = cq1.from(getEntityManagerFactory().getMetamodel().entity(Employee.class));
Join<Employee, Project> join = empRoot.join("projects");
Path exp = ((Path)join.as(LargeProject.class)).get("budget");
cq1.where(qb1.equal(exp, new Integer(1000)) );

Calling a cast on a JOIN node permanently alters that node. For example, in the example above, after calling join.as(LargeProject.class), the join refers to a LargeProject.

EclipseLink Expression Support for Downcast

The EclipseLink Expression.as(Class) can also be used for downcasting, as shown in the following example:

       ReadAllQuery raq = new ReadAllQuery(Employee.class);
       Expression criteria = raq.getExpressionBuilder().anyOf("projects").as(LargeProject.class).get("budget").greaterThan(100);
       raq.setSelectionCriteria(criteria);
       List resultList = query.getResultList();

In the above query, Employee has an xToMany mapping to Project. LargeProject is a subclass of Project, and the budget attribute is contained on LargeProject.

The behavior of using Expression.as(Class) is as follows:

  • An exception is thrown at query execution time if the class that is cast to is not a subclass of the class of the query key being cast.
  • Casts are only allowed on ObjectExpressions (QueryKeyExpression and ExpressionBuilder). The parent expression of a cast must be an ObjectExpression.
  • Casts use the same outer join settings as the ObjectExpression they modify
  • Casts modify their parent expression. As a result, when using a cast with a parallel expression, you must use a new instance of the parent expression.
  • Casting is not supported for TablePerClass inheritance
  • It is prudent to do a check for type in a query that does a cast. For example, the following:
   select f from Foo f join cast(f.bars, BarSubclass) b where b.subclassAttribute = "value"

should be written as:

   select f from Foo f join cast(f.bars, BarSubclass) b where type(b) = BarSubclass And b.subclassAttribute = "value"

if you want to enforce the type.

  • EclipseLink automatically appends type information for cases where the cast results in a single type; but for classes in the middle of a hierarchy, no type information is appended to the SQL

Example SQL

The following query (which does not use query casting):

Select e from Employee e join e.projects project

produces the following sql:

SELECT <select list>
FROM CMP3_EMPLOYEE t1 LEFT OUTER JOIN CMP3_DEPT t0 ON (t0.ID = t1.DEPT_ID), CMP3_EMP_PROJ t4, CMP3_PROJECT t3, CMP3_SALARY t2 
WHERE ((t2.EMP_ID = t1.EMP_ID) AND ((t4.EMPLOYEES_EMP_ID = t1.EMP_ID) AND (t3.PROJ_ID = t4.projects_PROJ_ID)))


The following example shows a similar query, but with expanded select criteria:

Expression criteria = project.as(LargeProject.class).get("budget").greaterThan(100);
raq.setSelectionCriteria(criteria);

The above query produces the following SQL:

SELECT <select list> 
FROM CMP3_PROJECT t3 LEFT OUTER JOIN CMP3_LPROJECT t4 ON (t4.PROJ_ID = t3.PROJ_ID),CMP3_EMPLOYEE t1 LEFT OUTER JOIN CMP3_DEPT t0 ON (t0.ID = t1.DEPT_ID), CMP3_EMP_PROJ t5, CMP3_SALARY t2 
WHERE (((t4.BUDGET > ?) AND (t2.EMP_ID = t1.EMP_ID)) AND ((t5.EMPLOYEES_EMP_ID = t1.EMP_ID) AND (t3.PROJ_ID = t5.projects_PROJ_ID)))
bind => [100.0]

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Version: 2.2.0 DRAFT
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