Hibernate save, saveOrUpdate, persist, merge, update explanation with examples

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Hibernate Session is the interface between java application and hibernate framework. Today we will look into Session important methods for saving and updating data in tables – save, saveOrUpdate, persist, update and merge.

Hibernate Save

As the method name suggests, hibernate save() can be used to save entity to database. We can invoke this method outside a transaction, that’s why I don’t like this method to save data. If we use this without transaction and we have cascading between entities, then only the primary entity gets saved unless we flush the session.

For our testing purposes we have two entity beans – Employee and Address.

Employee.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.model;
import javax.persistence.Access;
import javax.persistence.AccessType;
import javax.persistence.Column;
import javax.persistence.Entity;
import javax.persistence.GeneratedValue;
import javax.persistence.GenerationType;
import javax.persistence.Id;
import javax.persistence.OneToOne;
import javax.persistence.Table;
import org.hibernate.annotations.Cascade;
@Entity
@Table(name = "EMPLOYEE")
@Access(value=AccessType.FIELD)
public class Employee {
    @Id
    @GeneratedValue(strategy = GenerationType.IDENTITY)
    @Column(name = "emp_id")
    private long id;
    @Column(name = "emp_name")
    private String name;
    @Column(name = "emp_salary")
    private double salary;
    @OneToOne(mappedBy = "employee")
    @Cascade(value = org.hibernate.annotations.CascadeType.ALL)
    private Address address;
        //Getter setter methods
    @Override
    public String toString() {
        return "Id= " + id + ", Name= " + name + ", Salary= " + salary
                + ", {Address= " + address + "}";
    }
}
Address.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.model;
import javax.persistence.Access;
import javax.persistence.AccessType;
import javax.persistence.Column;
import javax.persistence.Entity;
import javax.persistence.GeneratedValue;
import javax.persistence.Id;
import javax.persistence.OneToOne;
import javax.persistence.PrimaryKeyJoinColumn;
import javax.persistence.Table;
import org.hibernate.annotations.GenericGenerator;
import org.hibernate.annotations.Parameter;
@Entity
@Table(name = "ADDRESS")
@Access(value=AccessType.FIELD)
public class Address {
    @Id
    @Column(name = "emp_id", unique = true, nullable = false)
    @GeneratedValue(generator = "gen")
    @GenericGenerator(name = "gen", strategy = "foreign", parameters = { @Parameter(name = "property", value = "employee") })
    private long id;
    @Column(name = "address_line1")
    private String addressLine1;
    @Column(name = "zipcode")
    private String zipcode;
    @Column(name = "city")
    private String city;
    @OneToOne
    @PrimaryKeyJoinColumn
    private Employee employee;
        //Getter setter methods
    @Override
    public String toString() {
        return "AddressLine1= " + addressLine1 + ", City=" + city
                + ", Zipcode=" + zipcode;
    }
}

Here is a simple hibernate program where we are invoking save() method in different cases.

HibernateSaveExample.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.main;
import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Address;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Employee;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;
public class HibernateSaveExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        
        // Prep Work
        SessionFactory sessionFactory = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory();
        
        //save example - without transaction
        Session session = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Employee emp = getTestEmployee();
        long id = (Long) session.save(emp);
        System.out.println("1. Employee save called without transaction, id="+id);
        session.flush(); //address will not get saved without this
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        //save example - with transaction
        Transaction tx1 = session.beginTransaction();
        Session session1 = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Employee emp1 = getTestEmployee();
        long id1 = (Long) session1.save(emp1);
        System.out.println("2. Employee save called with transaction, id="+id1);
        System.out.println("3. Before committing save transaction");
        tx1.commit();
        System.out.println("4. After committing save transaction");
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        //save example - existing row in table
        Session session6 = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Transaction tx6 = session6.beginTransaction();
        Employee emp6 =  (Employee) session6.load(Employee.class, new Long(20));
        
        //update some data
        System.out.println("Employee Details="+emp6);
        emp6.setName("New Name");
        emp6.getAddress().setCity("New City");
        
        long id6 = (Long) session6.save(emp6);
        emp6.setName("New Name1"); // will get updated in database
        System.out.println("5. Employee save called with transaction, id="+id6);
        System.out.println("6. Before committing save transaction");
        tx6.commit();
        System.out.println("7. After committing save transaction");
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        // Close resources
        sessionFactory.close();
    }
    public static Employee getTestEmployee() {
        Employee emp = new Employee();
        Address add = new Address();
        emp.setName("Test Emp");
        emp.setSalary(1000);
        add.setAddressLine1("Test address1");
        add.setCity("Test City");
        add.setZipcode("12121");
        emp.setAddress(add);
        add.setEmployee(emp);
        return emp;
    }
}

When we execute above program, it produces following output.

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Hibernate: insert into EMPLOYEE (emp_name, emp_salary) values (?, ?)
1. Employee save called without transaction, id=149
Hibernate: insert into ADDRESS (address_line1, city, zipcode, emp_id) values (?, ?, ?, ?)
*****
Hibernate: insert into EMPLOYEE (emp_name, emp_salary) values (?, ?)
2. Employee save called with transaction, id=150
3. Before committing save transaction
Hibernate: insert into ADDRESS (address_line1, city, zipcode, emp_id) values (?, ?, ?, ?)
4. After committing save transaction
*****
Hibernate: select employee0_.emp_id as emp_id1_1_0_, employee0_.emp_name as emp_name2_1_0_, employee0_.emp_salary as emp_sala3_1_0_, address1_.emp_id as emp_id1_0_1_, address1_.address_line1 as address_2_0_1_, address1_.city as city3_0_1_, address1_.zipcode as zipcode4_0_1_ from EMPLOYEE employee0_ left outer join ADDRESS address1_ on employee0_.emp_id=address1_.emp_id where employee0_.emp_id=?
Employee Details=Id= 20, Name= Kumar1, Salary= 1000.0, {Address= AddressLine1= Test address1, City=Blr, Zipcode=12121}
5. Employee save called with transaction, id=20
6. Before committing save transaction
Hibernate: update EMPLOYEE set emp_name=?, emp_salary=? where emp_id=?
Hibernate: update ADDRESS set address_line1=?, city=?, zipcode=? where emp_id=?
7. After committing save transaction
*****

Few important points that we can confirm from above output are:

  • We should avoid save outside transaction boundary, otherwise mapped entities will not be saved causing data inconsistency. It’s very normal to forget flushing the session because it doesn’t throw any exception or warnings.
  • Hibernate save method returns the generated id immediately, this is possible because primary object is saved as soon as save method is invoked.
  • If there are other objects mapped from the primary object, they gets saved at the time of committing transaction or when we flush the session.
  • For objects that are in persistent state, save updates the data through update query. Notice that it happens when transaction is committed. If there are no changes in the object, there wont be any query fired. If you will run above program multiple times, you will notice that update queries are not fired next time because there is no change in the column values.
  • Hibernate save load entity object to persistent context, if you will update the object properties after the save call but before the transaction is committed, it will be saved into database.

Hibernate Persist

Hibernate persist is similar to save (with transaction) and it adds the entity object to the persistent context, so any further changes are tracked. If the object properties are changed before the transaction is committed or session is flushed, it will also be saved into database.

Second difference is that we can use persist() method only within the boundary of a transaction, so it’s safe and takes care of any cascaded objects.

Finally, persist doesn’t return anything so we need to use the persisted object to get the generated identifier value. Let’s look at hibernate persist with a simple program.

HibernatePersistExample.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.main;
import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Employee;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;
public class HibernatePersistExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        
        // Prep Work
        SessionFactory sessionFactory = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory(); 
        
        //persist example - with transaction
        Session session2 = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Transaction tx2 = session2.beginTransaction();
        Employee emp2 = HibernateSaveExample.getTestEmployee();
        session2.persist(emp2);
        System.out.println("Persist called");
        emp2.setName("Kumar"); // will be updated in database too
        System.out.println("Employee Name updated");
        System.out.println("8. Employee persist called with transaction, id="+emp2.getId()+", address id="+emp2.getAddress().getId());
        tx2.commit();
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        // Close resources
        sessionFactory.close();
    }
}

Output produced by above code is:

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Hibernate: insert into EMPLOYEE (emp_name, emp_salary) values (?, ?)
8. Employee persist called with transaction, id=158, address id=158
Hibernate: insert into ADDRESS (address_line1, city, zipcode, emp_id) values (?, ?, ?, ?)
Hibernate: update EMPLOYEE set emp_name=?, emp_salary=? where emp_id=?
*****

Notice that first employee object is inserted, then at the time of transaction commit, update query is executed to update the name value. Also mapped object address is saved into database.

Hibernate saveOrUpdate

Hibernate saveOrUpdate results into insert or update queries based on the provided data. If the data is present in the database, update query is executed.

We can use saveOrUpdate() without transaction also, but again you will face the issues with mapped objects not getting saved if session is not flushed.

One important difference between save and saveOrUpdate is that it adds the entity object to persistent context and track any further changes. Any further changes are saved at the time of committing transaction, like persist.

HibernateSaveOrUpdateExample.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.main;
import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Employee;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;
public class HibernateSaveOrUpdateExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        
        // Prep Work
        SessionFactory sessionFactory = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory();
        
        //saveOrUpdate example - without transaction
        Session session5 = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Employee emp5 = HibernateSaveExample.getTestEmployee();
        session5.saveOrUpdate(emp5);
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        //saveOrUpdate example - with transaction
        Session session3 = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Transaction tx3 = session3.beginTransaction();
        Employee emp3 = HibernateSaveExample.getTestEmployee();
        session3.saveOrUpdate(emp3);
        emp3.setName("Kumar"); //will be saved into DB
        System.out.println("9. Before committing saveOrUpdate transaction. Id="+emp3.getId());
        tx3.commit();
        System.out.println("10. After committing saveOrUpdate transaction");
        System.out.println("*****");
        
        
        Transaction tx4 = session3.beginTransaction();
        emp3.setName("Updated Test Name"); //Name changed
        emp3.getAddress().setCity("Updated City");
        session3.saveOrUpdate(emp3);
        emp3.setName("Kumar"); //again changed to previous value, so no Employee update
        System.out.println("11. Before committing saveOrUpdate transaction. Id="+emp3.getId());
        tx4.commit();
        System.out.println("12. After committing saveOrUpdate transaction");
        System.out.println("*****");
        // Close resources
        sessionFactory.close();
    }
}

Above program produces following output.

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Hibernate: insert into EMPLOYEE (emp_name, emp_salary) values (?, ?)
*****
Hibernate: insert into EMPLOYEE (emp_name, emp_salary) values (?, ?)
9. Before committing saveOrUpdate transaction. Id=166
Hibernate: insert into ADDRESS (address_line1, city, zipcode, emp_id) values (?, ?, ?, ?)
Hibernate: update EMPLOYEE set emp_name=?, emp_salary=? where emp_id=?
10. After committing saveOrUpdate transaction
*****
11. Before committing saveOrUpdate transaction. Id=166
Hibernate: update ADDRESS set address_line1=?, city=?, zipcode=? where emp_id=?
12. After committing saveOrUpdate transaction
*****

Notice that without transaction, only Employee gets saved and address information is lost.

With transaction employee object is tracked for any changes, thats why in last call there is no update in Employee table even though the value was changed in between, final value remains same.

Hibernate update

Hibernate update should be used where we know that we are only updating the entity information. This operation adds the entity object to persistent context and further changes are tracked and saved when transaction is committed. Let’s check this behavior with a simple program.

HibernateUpdateExample.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.main;
import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Employee;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;
public class HibernateUpdateExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Prep Work
        SessionFactory sessionFactory = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory();
        Session session = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Transaction tx = session.beginTransaction();
        Employee emp = (Employee) session.load(Employee.class, new Long(101));
        System.out.println("Employee object loaded. " + emp);
        tx.commit();
        // update example
        emp.setName("Updated name");
        emp.getAddress().setCity("Bangalore");
        Transaction tx7 = session.beginTransaction();
        session.update(emp);
        emp.setName("Final updated name");
        System.out.println("13. Before committing update transaction");
        tx7.commit();
        System.out.println("14. After committing update transaction");
        // Close resources
        sessionFactory.close();
    }
}

When we execute above program for the first time, we get following output.

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Hibernate: select employee0_.emp_id as emp_id1_1_0_, employee0_.emp_name as emp_name2_1_0_, employee0_.emp_salary as emp_sala3_1_0_, address1_.emp_id as emp_id1_0_1_, address1_.address_line1 as address_2_0_1_, address1_.city as city3_0_1_, address1_.zipcode as zipcode4_0_1_ from EMPLOYEE employee0_ left outer join ADDRESS address1_ on employee0_.emp_id=address1_.emp_id where employee0_.emp_id=?
Employee object loaded. Id= 101, Name= Test Emp, Salary= 1000.0, {Address= AddressLine1= Test address1, City=Test City, Zipcode=12121}
13. Before committing update transaction
Hibernate: update EMPLOYEE set emp_name=?, emp_salary=? where emp_id=?
Hibernate: update ADDRESS set address_line1=?, city=?, zipcode=? where emp_id=?
14. After committing update transaction

On further execution, we get following output.

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Hibernate: select employee0_.emp_id as emp_id1_1_0_, employee0_.emp_name as emp_name2_1_0_, employee0_.emp_salary as emp_sala3_1_0_, address1_.emp_id as emp_id1_0_1_, address1_.address_line1 as address_2_0_1_, address1_.city as city3_0_1_, address1_.zipcode as zipcode4_0_1_ from EMPLOYEE employee0_ left outer join ADDRESS address1_ on employee0_.emp_id=address1_.emp_id where employee0_.emp_id=?
Employee object loaded. Id= 101, Name= Final updated name, Salary= 1000.0, {Address= AddressLine1= Test address1, City=Bangalore, Zipcode=12121}
13. Before committing update transaction
14. After committing update transaction

Notice that there are no updates fired after first execution because there are no update in values. Also notice the employee name is “Final updated name” that we set after invoking update() method. This confirms that hibernate was tracking the object for any changes and at the time of committing transaction, this value got saved.

Hibernate Merge

Hibernate merge can be used to update existing values, however this method create a copy from the passed entity object and return it. The returned object is part of persistent context and tracked for any changes, passed object is not tracked. This is the major difference with merge() from all other methods. Let’s look at this with a simple program.

HibernateMergeExample.java
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package com.journaldev.hibernate.main;
import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.model.Employee;
import com.journaldev.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;
public class HibernateMergeExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Prep Work
        SessionFactory sessionFactory = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory();
        Session session = sessionFactory.openSession();
        Transaction tx = session.beginTransaction();
        Employee emp = (Employee) session.load(Employee.class, new Long(101));
        System.out.println("Employee object loaded. " + emp);
        tx.commit();
         //merge example - data already present in tables
         emp.setSalary(25000);
         Transaction tx8 = session.beginTransaction();
         Employee emp4 = (Employee) session.merge(emp);
         System.out.println(emp4 == emp); // returns false
         emp.setName("Test");
         emp4.setName("Kumar");
         System.out.println("15. Before committing merge transaction");
         tx8.commit();
         System.out.println("16. After committing merge transaction");
        // Close resources
        sessionFactory.close();
    }
}

Output in first execution is:

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Hibernate: select employee0_.emp_id as emp_id1_1_0_, employee0_.emp_name as emp_name2_1_0_, employee0_.emp_salary as emp_sala3_1_0_, address1_.emp_id as emp_id1_0_1_, address1_.address_line1 as address_2_0_1_, address1_.city as city3_0_1_, address1_.zipcode as zipcode4_0_1_ from EMPLOYEE employee0_ left outer join ADDRESS address1_ on employee0_.emp_id=address1_.emp_id where employee0_.emp_id=?
Employee object loaded. Id= 101, Name= Final updated name, Salary= 1000.0, {Address= AddressLine1= Test address1, City=Bangalore, Zipcode=12121}
false
15. Before committing merge transaction
Hibernate: update EMPLOYEE set emp_name=?, emp_salary=? where emp_id=?
16. After committing merge transaction

In further execution, output produced is:

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Hibernate: select employee0_.emp_id as emp_id1_1_0_, employee0_.emp_name as emp_name2_1_0_, employee0_.emp_salary as emp_sala3_1_0_, address1_.emp_id as emp_id1_0_1_, address1_.address_line1 as address_2_0_1_, address1_.city as city3_0_1_, address1_.zipcode as zipcode4_0_1_ from EMPLOYEE employee0_ left outer join ADDRESS address1_ on employee0_.emp_id=address1_.emp_id where employee0_.emp_id=?
Employee object loaded. Id= 101, Name= Kumar, Salary= 25000.0, {Address= AddressLine1= Test address1, City=Bangalore, Zipcode=12121}
false
15. Before committing merge transaction
16. After committing merge transaction

Notice that the entity object returned by merge() is different from the passed entity. Also notice that in further execution, name is “Kumar”, this is because the returned object is tracked for any changes.

That’s all for hibernate save and update methods, I hope that examples above will help you in clarifying any doubts you have.

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