Skip to main content
Jump to: navigation, search

EclipseLink/UserGuide/JPA/Basic JPA Development/Entities/MappedSuperclass

< EclipseLink‎ | UserGuide‎ | JPA‎ | Basic JPA Development
Revision as of 13:34, 30 June 2011 by (Talk | contribs) (New page: {{EclipseLink_UserGuide |info=y |toc=n |eclipselink=y |eclipselinktype=JPA |api=y |apis= * [ @MappedSup...)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

EclipseLink JPA


You can use the @Inheritance annotation or <inheritance> XML element to configure how entities with inheritance are persisted. JPA defines three inheritance strategies SINGLE_TABLE, JOINED, and TABLE_PER_CLASS. By default the SINGLE_TABLE strategy is used and all of the subclasses are persisted in a single table that contains all of the column of all of the subclasses. In addition a discriminator column named DTYPE is required in the table to store the class type.

For other inheritance strategies see Advanced Inheritance Configuration.

The @Inheritance annotation has the following attributes:

  • strategy – By default, the EclipseLink persistence provider assumes that all the classes in a hierarchy are mapped to a single table differentiated by the discriminator value (see @DiscriminatorValue) in the table's discriminator column (see @DiscriminatorColumn): InheritanceType.SINGLE_TABLE.
    If this is not appropriate for your application or if you must match an existing data model, set strategy to the desired InheritanceType enumerated type:
    • SINGLE_TABLE – all the classes in a hierarchy are mapped to a single table. The table has a discriminator column (@DiscriminatorColumn) whose value (@DiscriminatorValue) identifies the specific subclass to which the instance that is represented by the row belongs.

      Elug note icon.png

      Note: This option provides the best support for both polymorphic relationships between entities and queries that range over the class hierarchy. The disadvantages of this option include the need to make nullable columns that should be NOT NULL.

    • TABLE_PER_CLASS – each class is mapped to a separate table. All properties of the class, including inherited properties, are mapped to columns of the table for the class.

      Elug note icon.png

      Note: This option has several limitations when querying or having relationships to the root or branch classes. Joins to root or branch classes are not supported.

    • JOINED – the root of the class hierarchy is represented by a single table and each subclass is represented by a separate table. Each subclass table contains only those fields that are specific to the subclass (not inherited from its superclass) and primary key columns that serve as foreign keys to the primary keys of the superclass table. The join from the primary table to the subclass table can be configured using the @PrimaryKeyJoinColumn, see SecondaryTable for more info. If you have multiple levels of inheritance, each subclass table should join with the root table, and the discriminator column is only defined once in the root table.
Elug javaspec icon.gif

For more information, see Section 2.1.9 "Inheritance" in the JPA Specification.

Elug javaspec icon.gif

For more information, see Section 9.1.29 "Inheritance Annotation" in the JPA Specification.


You can use the @DiscriminatorColumn annotation or <discriminator-column> XML element to configure the name or type of the inheritance discriminator column. The discriminator column is required for SINGLE_TABLE and JOINED inheritance and stores the associated entity type for the row. The default name for the discriminator column is DTYPE. JPA only allows String or Integer values for discriminators. Through the EclipseLink API, it is possible to use other discriminator types, and it is possible to not have a discriminator, or use custom discriminator, see Advanced Inheritance Configuration.

@DiscriminatorColumn Attributes
Attribute Description Default Required?
name The name of column to be used to store the class discriminator value. DTYPE No
discriminatorType The type of the discriminator value, defined in DiscriminatorType, one of STRING, INTEGER, and CHAR. STRING No
columnDefinition Optional column description for use with DDL generation. generated base on discriminatorType No
length The size of the column for DDL generation. Only relevant for STRING types. 31 No
Elug javaspec icon.gif

For more information, see Section 11.1.10 "DiscriminatorColumn Annotation" in the JPA Specification.


You can use the @DiscriminatorValue annotation or <discriminator-value> XML element to configure the value of the inheritance discriminator. The discriminator value can be specified in each non-abstract class in the inheritance hierarchy. By default the discriminator value is the entity's name, which defaults to its unprefixed class name. The discriminator value is always specified as a String, but is converted to the discriminator column type.

The following examples shows usages of the three different inheritance strategies for mapping an Account hierarchy.

Example: Using SINGLE_TABLE with @Inheritance annotation
public abstract class Account implements Serializable {
    private Long id;
    private BigDecimal balance;
public class SavingAccount extends Account {
    private BigDecimal interestRate;
public class CheckingAccount extends Account {
    private boolean returnChecks;
Example: Using SINGLE_TABLE with <inheritance> XML
<entity class="Account">
    <table name="ACCOUNT"/>
    <inheritance strategy="SINGLE_TABLE"/>
    <discriminator-column name="ACCOUNT_TYPE"/>
        <id name="id"/>
        <basic name="balance"/>
<entity class="SavingAccount">
        <basic name="interestRate"/>
<entity class="CheckingAccount">
        <basic name="returnChecks"/>

Version: 2.2.0 DRAFT
Other versions...

Back to the top