17. Transaction Management

17.1 Introduction to Spring Framework transaction management

Comprehensive transaction support is among the most compelling reasons to use the Spring Framework. The Spring Framework provides a consistent abstraction for transaction management that delivers the following benefits:

  • Consistent programming model across different transaction APIs such as Java Transaction API (JTA), JDBC, Hibernate, Java Persistence API (JPA), and Java Data Objects (JDO).
  • Support for declarative transaction management.
  • Simpler API for programmatic transaction management than complex transaction APIs such as JTA.
  • Excellent integration with Spring’s data access abstractions.

The following sections describe the Spring Framework’s transaction value-adds and technologies. (The chapter also includes discussions of best practices, application server integration, and solutions to common problems.)

17.2 Advantages of the Spring Framework’s transaction support model

Traditionally, Java EE developers have had two choices for transaction management: global or local transactions, both of which have profound limitations. Global and local transaction management is reviewed in the next two sections, followed by a discussion of how the Spring Framework’s transaction management support addresses the limitations of the global and local transaction models.

17.2.1 Global transactions

Global transactions enable you to work with multiple transactional resources, typically relational databases and message queues. The application server manages global transactions through the JTA, which is a cumbersome API to use (partly due to its exception model). Furthermore, a JTA UserTransaction normally needs to be sourced from JNDI, meaning that you also need to use JNDI in order to use JTA. Obviously the use of global transactions would limit any potential reuse of application code, as JTA is normally only available in an application server environment.

Previously, the preferred way to use global transactions was via EJB CMT (Container Managed Transaction): CMT is a form of declarative transaction management (as distinguished from programmatic transaction management). EJB CMT removes the need for transaction-related JNDI lookups, although of course the use of EJB itself necessitates the use of JNDI. It removes most but not all of the need to write Java code to control transactions. The significant downside is that CMT is tied to JTA and an application server environment. Also, it is only available if one chooses to implement business logic in EJBs, or at least behind a transactional EJB facade. The negatives of EJB in general are so great that this is not an attractive proposition, especially in the face of compelling alternatives for declarative transaction management.

17.2.2 Local transactions

Local transactions are resource-specific, such as a transaction associated with a JDBC connection. Local transactions may be easier to use, but have significant disadvantages: they cannot work across multiple transactional resources. For example, code that manages transactions using a JDBC connection cannot run within a global JTA transaction. Because the application server is not involved in transaction management, it cannot help ensure correctness across multiple resources. (It is worth noting that most applications use a single transaction resource.) Another downside is that local transactions are invasive to the programming model.

17.2.3 Spring Framework’s consistent programming model

Spring resolves the disadvantages of global and local transactions. It enables application developers to use a consistent programming model in any environment. You write your code once, and it can benefit from different transaction management strategies in different environments. The Spring Framework provides both declarative and programmatic transaction management. Most users prefer declarative transaction management, which is recommended in most cases.

With programmatic transaction management, developers work with the Spring Framework transaction abstraction, which can run over any underlying transaction infrastructure. With the preferred declarative model, developers typically write little or no code related to transaction management, and hence do not depend on the Spring Framework transaction API, or any other transaction API.

17.3 Understanding the Spring Framework transaction abstraction

The key to the Spring transaction abstraction is the notion of a transaction strategy. A transaction strategy is defined by the org.springframework.transaction.PlatformTransactionManager interface:

public interface PlatformTransactionManager {

    TransactionStatus getTransaction(
            TransactionDefinition definition) throws TransactionException;

    void commit(TransactionStatus status) throws TransactionException;

    void rollback(TransactionStatus status) throws TransactionException;

This is primarily a service provider interface (SPI), although it can be used programmatically from your ap