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EclipseLink/UserGuide/JPA/Basic JPA Development/Entities/Ids/GeneratedValue

EclipseLink JPA


Use the @GeneratedValue annotation or <generated-value> XML element to enable the EclipseLink persistence provider to generate unique identifiers for entity primary keys (see @Id).

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For more information, see Section 11.1.17 "GeneratedValue Annotation" in the JPA Specification.

Use the @GeneratedValue annotation to:

  • Override the type of identity value generation selected by the persistence provider for your database if you feel another generator type is more appropriate for your database or application.
  • Override the generator name to reference your own customized SequenceGenerator or TableGenerator.

The @GeneratedValue annotation has the following attributes:

@GeneratedValue Attributes
Attribute Description Default Required?
generator The name of the SequenceGenerator or TableGenerator object use for this generated value.

If no generator is defined for this name, a generator is defaulted. For a SEQUENCE generator the name becomes the name of the database sequence object.

For a TABLE generator the name becomes the value for the sequence row in the sequence table.
strategy By default, EclipseLink persistence provider uses a TABLE generator.
To use another generator type, set the value of this attribute to one of the enumerated values of the GenerationType enumerated type.


The strategy of the GeneratedValue is defined by the GenerationType enumerated type. The strategy defines how the id value should be generated on the database. By default, EclipseLink chooses the TABLE strategy using a table named SEQUENCE, with SEQ_NAME and SEQ_COUNT columns, with allocationSize of 50 and pkColumnValue of SEQ_GEN. If SEQUENCE is used the default database sequence used is named SEQ_GEN_SEQUENCE with an allocationSize of 50.

The following are the enumerated values of the GenerationType enumerated type:

  • AUTO – specify that EclipseLink persistence provider should choose a primary key generator that is most appropriate for the underlying database.
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    Note: Be careful when using the automatic ID generation: the persistence provider has to pick its own strategy to store the identifiers, but it needs to have a persistent resource, such as a table or a sequence, to do so. The persistence provider cannot always rely upon the database connection that it obtains from the server to have permissions to create a table in the database. This is usually a privileged operation that is often restricted to the DBA. There will need to be a creation phase or schema generation to cause the resource to be created before the AUTO strategy can function.

  • TABLE – specify that EclipseLink persistence provider assign primary keys for the entity using an underlying database table to ensure uniqueness (see @TableGenerator).
  • SEQUENCE – specify that EclipseLink persistence provider use a database sequence (see @SequenceGenerator).
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    Note: SEQUENCE strategy is database specific and not supported on all database. SEQUENCE is supported on Oracle, DB2, Derby, JavaDB, Informix, H2, HSQL, MaxDB, Firebird, Symfoware, and Postgres databases.

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    Note: For SEQUENCE the database sequence INCREMENT must match the allocationSize which has a default value of 50.

  • IDENTITY – specify that EclipseLink persistence provider use a database identity column. Setting this value will indicate to the persistence provider that it must select the inserted row's id from the database after an insert has occurred. This will allow it to obtain the newly generated identifier from the database and put it into the in-memory entity that was just persisted. The identity must be defined as part of the database schema for the primary key column. Identity generation may not be shared across multiple entity types.
  • Elug note icon.png

    Note: IDENTITY strategy is database specific and not supported on all database. IDENTITY is supported on Sybase, DB2, SQL Server, MySQL, Derby, JavaDB, Informix, SQL Anywhere, H2, HSQL, Access, and Postgres databases.

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    Note: There is a difference between using IDENTITY and other id generation strategies: the identifier will not be accessible until after the insert has occurred – it is the action of inserting that caused the identifier generation. Due to the fact that insertion of entities is most often deferred until the commit time, the identifier would not be available until after the transaction has been flushed or committed.

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    Note: We do not recommend using the IDENTITY strategy for it does not support preallocation. This affects performance and usability.

The following example shows how to use table id generation. This will cause EclipseLink persistence provider to create an identifier value from a sequence table and insert it into the id field of each Employee entity that gets persisted.

Example: Using @GeneratedValue
public class Employee implements Serializable {
    private long id;
Example: Using <generated-value>
<entity class="Employee">
        <id name="empID">
            <generated-value strategy="TABLE"/>

Advanced Identity Generation

EclipseLink provides extensions for other methods of id generation. Using a SessionCustomizer you can make use of the EclipseLink native API to define advanced or custom sequencing. The native API defines several Sequence objects that can be registered by name with the EclipseLink Session. Any @GeneratedValue using the same name will use this custom sequence. The native API defines QuerySequence, NativeSequence, TableSequence, and UnaryTableSequence. A QuerySequence can be used to use native SQL or a stored procedure call to allocate the id. UnaryTableSequence can be used to allocate an id from a single column sequence table.

See CustomSequencing for an example of using custom sequencing to define a UUI generated id.

It is also possible to generate the value for an Id using the prePersist event, or through triggers when using the Oracle database platform. See Returning.

Example: Using a SessionCustomizer to configure a sequence stored procedure
public class SequenceCustomizer implements SessionCustomizer {
    public void customize(Session session) {
        StoredProcedureCall call = new StoredProcedureCall();
        call.addNamedOutputArgument("ID", "ID", Long.class);
        QuerySequence sequence = new QuerySequence("employee-sequence");
        sequence.setSelectQuery(new ValueReadQuery(call));

Accessing Generated Values at Runtime

EclipseLink allows for a generated id value to be accessed at runtime through using the Session.getNextSequenceNumberValue() API. If the id value has already been assign to an object, EclipseLink will not re-assign the value, so it is possible for the application to assign an id value before calling persist.

Example: Using the Session API to access a generated id value at runtime
long id = em.unwrap(Session.class).getNextSequenceNumberValue(Employee.class).longValue();

Version: 2.2.0 DRAFT
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