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Chapter 4. Persistent Classes

Persistent classes are classes in an application that implement the entities of the business problem (e.g. Customer and Order in an E-commerce application). Not all instances of a persistent class are considered to be in the persistent state - an instance may instead be transient or detached.
Hibernate works best if these classes follow some simple rules, also known as the Plain Old Java Object (POJO) programming model. However, none of these rules are hard requirements. Indeed, Hibernate3 assumes very little about the nature of your persistent objects. You may express a domain model in other ways: using trees of Map instances, for example.

4.1. A simple POJO example

Most Java applications require a persistent class representing felines.
package eg;
import java.util.Set;
import java.util.Date;

public class Cat {
    private Long id; // identifier

    private Date birthdate;
    private Color color;
    private char sex;
    private float weight;
    private int litterId;

    private Cat mother;
    private Set kittens = new HashSet();

    private void setId(Long id) {;
    public Long getId() {
        return id;

    void setBirthdate(Date date) {
        birthdate = date;
    public Date getBirthdate() {
        return birthdate;

    void setWeight(float weight) {
        this.weight = weight;
    public float getWeight() {
        return weight;

    public Color getColor() {
        return color;
    void setColor(Color color) {
        this.color = color;

    void setSex(char sex) {;
    public char getSex() {
        return sex;

    void setLitterId(int id) {
        this.litterId = id;
    public int getLitterId() {
        return litterId;

    void setMother(Cat mother) {
        this.mother = mother;
    public Cat getMother() {
        return mother;
    void setKittens(Set kittens) {
        this.kittens = kittens;
    public Set getKittens() {
        return kittens;
    // addKitten not needed by Hibernate
    public void addKitten(Cat kitten) {
kitten.setLitterId( kittens.size() ); 
There are four main rules to follow here:

4.1.1. Implement a no-argument constructor

Cat has a no-argument constructor. All persistent classes must have a default constructor (which may be non-public) so that Hibernate can instantiate them using Constructor.newInstance(). We strongly recommend having a default constructor with at least package visibility for runtime proxy generation in Hibernate.

4.1.2. Provide an identifier property (optional)

Cat has a property called id. This property maps to the primary key column of a database table. The property might have been called anything, and its type might have been any primitive type, any primitive "wrapper" type, java.lang.String or java.util.Date. (If your legacy database table has composite keys, you can even use a user-defined class with properties of these types - see the section on composite identifiers later.)
The identifier property is strictly optional. You can leave them off and let Hibernate keep track of object identifiers internally. We do not recommend this, however.
In fact, some functionality is available only to classes which declare an identifier property:
We recommend you declare consistently-named identifier properties on persistent classes. We further recommend that you use a nullable (ie. non-primitive) type.

4.1.3. Prefer non-final classes (optional)

A central feature of Hibernate, proxies, depends upon the persistent class being either non-final, or the implementation of an interface that declares all public methods.
You can persist final classes that do not implement an interface with Hibernate, but you won't be able to use proxies for lazy association fetching - which will limit your options for performance tuning.
You should also avoid declaring public final methods on the non-final classes. If you want to use a class with a public final method, you must explicitly disable proying by setting lazy="false".

4.1.4. Declare accessors and mutators for persistent fields (optional)

Cat declares accessor methods for all its persistent fields. Many other ORM tools directly persist instance variables. We believe it is better to provide an indirection between the relational schema and internal data structures of the class. By default, Hibernate persists JavaBeans style properties, and recognizes method names of the form getFoo, isFoo and setFoo. You may switch to direct field access for particular properties, if needed.
Properties need not be declared public - Hibernate can persist a property with a default, protected or private get / set pair.