Chapter 8. Component Mapping

The notion of a component is re-used in several different contexts, for different purposes, throughout Hibernate.

8.1. Dependent objects

A component is a contained object that is persisted as a value type, not an entity reference. The term "component" refers to the object-oriented notion of composition (not to architecture-level components). For example, you might model a person like this:
public class Person {
    private java.util.Date birthday;
    private Name name;
    private String key;
    public String getKey() {
        return key;
    }
    private void setKey(String key) {
        this.key=key;
    }
    public java.util.Date getBirthday() {
        return birthday;
    }
    public void setBirthday(java.util.Date birthday) {
        this.birthday = birthday;
    }
    public Name getName() {
        return name;
    }
    public void setName(Name name) {
        this.name = name;
    }
    ......
    ......
}
public class Name {
    char initial;
    String first;
    String last;
    public String getFirst() {
        return first;
    }
    void setFirst(String first) {
        this.first = first;
    }
    public String getLast() {
        return last;
    }
    void setLast(String last) {
        this.last = last;
    }
    public char getInitial() {
        return initial;
    }
    void setInitial(char initial) {
        this.initial = initial;
    }
}
Now Name may be persisted as a component of Person. Notice that Name defines getter and setter methods for its persistent properties, but doesn't need to declare any interfaces or identifier properties.
Our Hibernate mapping would look like:
<class name="eg.Person" table="person">
    <id name="Key" column="pid" type="string">
        <generator class="uuid"/>
    </id>
    <property name="birthday" type="date"/>
    <component name="Name" class="eg.Name"> <!-- class attribute optional -->
        <property name="initial"/>
        <property name="first"/>
        <property name="last"/>
    </component>
</class>
The person table would have the columns pid, birthday, initial, first and last.
Like all value types, components do not support shared references. In other words, two persons could have the same name, but the two person objects would contain two independent name ojects, only "the same" by value. The null value semantics of a component are ad hoc. When reloading the containing object, Hibernate will assume that if all component columns are null, then the entire component is null. This should be okay for most purposes.
The properties of a component may be of any Hibernate type (collections, many-to-one associations, other components, etc). Nested components should not be considered an exotic usage. Hibernate is intended to support a very fine-grained object model.
The <component> element allows a <parent> subelement that maps a property of the component class as a reference back to the containing entity.
<class name="eg.Person" table="person">
    <id name="Key" column="pid" type="string">
        <generator class="uuid"/>
    </id>
    <property name="birthday" type="date"/>
    <component name="Name" class="eg.Name" unique="true">
        <parent name="namedPerson"/> <!-- reference back to the Person -->
        <property name="initial"/>
        <property name="first"/>
        <property name="last"/>
    </component>
</class>