5.4. Dynamic models

Note

The following features are currently considered experimental and may change in the near future.
Persistent entities do not necessarily have to be represented as POJO classes or as JavaBean objects at runtime. Hibernate also supports dynamic models (using Maps of Maps at runtime) and the representation of entities as DOM4J trees. With this approach, you do not write persistent classes, only mapping files.
By default, Hibernate works in normal POJO mode. You can set a default entity representation mode for a particular SessionFactory using the default_entity_mode configuration option (see Table 4.3, “Hibernate Configuration Properties”).
The following examples demonstrate the representation using Maps. First, in the mapping file an entity-name has to be declared instead of, or in addition to, a class name:
<hibernate-mapping>

    <class entity-name="Customer">

        <id name="id"
            type="long"
            column="ID">
            <generator class="sequence"/>
        </id>

        <property name="name"
            column="NAME"
            type="string"/>

        <property name="address"
            column="ADDRESS"
            type="string"/>

        <many-to-one name="organization"
            column="ORGANIZATION_ID"
            class="Organization"/>

        <bag name="orders"
            inverse="true"
            lazy="false"
            cascade="all">
            <key column="CUSTOMER_ID"/>
            <one-to-many class="Order"/>
        </bag>

    </class>
    
</hibernate-mapping>
Even though associations are declared using target class names, the target type of associations can also be a dynamic entity instead of a POJO.
After setting the default entity mode to dynamic-map for the SessionFactory, you can, at runtime, work with Maps of Maps:
Session s = openSession();
Transaction tx = s.beginTransaction();

// Create a customer
Map david = new HashMap();
david.put("name", "David");

// Create an organization
Map foobar = new HashMap();
foobar.put("name", "Foobar Inc.");

// Link both
david.put("organization", foobar);

// Save both
s.save("Customer", david);
s.save("Organization", foobar);

tx.commit();
s.close();
One of the main advantages of dynamic mapping is quick turnaround time for prototyping, without the need for entity class implementation. However, you lose compile-time type checking and will likely deal with many exceptions at runtime. As a result of the Hibernate mapping, the database schema can easily be normalized and sound, allowing to add a proper domain model implementation on top later on.
Entity representation modes can also be set on a per Session basis:
Session dynamicSession = pojoSession.getSession(EntityMode.MAP);

// Create a customer
Map david = new HashMap();
david.put("name", "David");
dynamicSession.save("Customer", david);
...
dynamicSession.flush();
dynamicSession.close();
...
// Continue on pojoSession
Please note that the call to getSession() using an EntityMode is on the Session API, not the SessionFactory. That way, the new Session shares the underlying JDBC connection, transaction, and other context information. This means you do not have to call flush() and close() on the secondary Session, and also leave the transaction and connection handling to the primary unit of work.
More information about the XML representation capabilities can be found in Chapter 19, XML Mapping.