jOOQ Tuesdays: Thorben Janssen Shares Hibernate Performance Secrets
An interview with Thorben Janssen that covers JPA and Hibernate performance, annotations, and training.
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Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.
I’m very excited to feature today Thorben Janssen who has spent most of his professional life with Hibernate.
Thorben, with your blog and training, you are one of the few daring “annotatioficionados” as we like to call them, who risks diving deep into JPA’s more sophisticated annotations – like @SqlResultSetMapping. What is your experience with JPA’s advanced, declarative programming style?
Thorben: From my point of view, the declarative style of JPA is great and a huge problem at the same time.
If you know what you’re doing, you just add an annotation, set a few properties and your JPA implementation takes care of the rest. That makes it very easy to use complex features and avoids a lot of boilerplate code.
But it can also become a huge issue, when someone is not that familiar with JPA and just copies a few annotations from Stack Overflow and hopes that it works.
It will work in most of the cases. JPA and Hibernate are highly optimized and handle suboptimal code and annotations quite well. At least as long as it is tested with one user on a local machine. But that changes quickly when the code gets deployed to production and several hundred or thousand users use it in parallel. These issues get then often posted on stack overflow or other forums together with a complaint about the bad performance of Hibernate…
Your training goes far beyond these rather esoteric use cases and focuses on JPA / Hibernate performance. What are three things every ORM user should know about JPA / SQL performance?
Thorben: Only three things? I could talk about a lot more things related to JPA and Hibernate performance.
The by far most important one is to remember that your ORM framework is using SQL to store your data in a relational database. That seems to be pretty obvious, but you can avoid the most common performance issues by analyzing and optimizing the executed SQL statements. One example for that is the popular n+1 select issue which you can easily find and fix as I show in my free, 3-part video course.
Another important thing is that no framework or specification provides a good solution for every problem. JPA and Hibernate make it very easy to insert and update data into a relational database. And they provide a set of advanced features for performance optimizations, like caching or the ordering of statements to improve the efficiency of JDBC batches.
But Hibernate and JPA are not a good fit for applications that have to perform a lot of very complex queries for reporting or data mining use cases. The feature set of JPQL is too limited for these use cases. You can, of course, use native queries to execute plain SQL, but you should have a look at other frameworks if you need a lot of these queries.
So, always make sure that your preferred framework is a good fit for your project.
The third thing you should keep in mind is that you should prefer lazy fetching for the relationships between your entities. This prevents Hibernate from executing additional SQL queries to initialize the relationships to other entities when it gets an entity from the database. Most use cases don’t need the related entities, and the additional queries slow down the application. And if one of your use cases uses the relationships, you can use FETCH JOIN statements or entity graphs to initialize them with the initial query.
This approach avoids the overhead of unnecessary SQL queries for most of your use cases and allows you to initialize the relationships if you need them.
These are the three most important things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid performance problems with Hibernate. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, have a look at my Hibernate Performance Tuning Online Training. The next one starts on July 23rd.
What made you focus your training mostly on Hibernate, rather than also on EclipseLink / OpenJPA, or just plain SQL /jOOQ? Do you have plans to extend to those topics?
Thorben: To be honest, that decision was quite easy for me. I’m working with Hibernate for about 15 years now and used it in a lot of different projects with very different requirements. That gives me the experience and knowledge about the framework, which you need if you want to optimize its performance. I also tried EclipseLink but not to the same extent as Hibernate.
And I also asked my readers which JPA implementation they use, and most of them told me that they either use plain JPA or Hibernate. That made it pretty easy to focus on Hibernate.
I might integrate jOOQ into one of my future trainings. Because as I said before, Hibernate and JPA are a good solution if you want to create or update data or if your queries are not too complex. As soon as your queries get complex, you have to use native queries with plain SQL. In these cases, jOOQ can provide some nice benefits.
What’s the advantage of your online training over a more classic training format, where people meet physically – both for you and for your participants?
Thorben: The good thing about a classroom training is that you can discuss your questions with other students and the instructor. But it also requires you to be in a certain place at a certain time which creates additional costs, requires you to get out of your current projects and keeps you away from home.
With the Hibernate Performance Tuning Online Training, I want to provide a similar experience to a classroom training in which you study with other students and ask your questions but without having to travel somewhere. You can watch my training videos and do the exercises from your office or home and meet with me, and other students in the forum or group coaching calls to discuss your questions.
So you get the best of both worlds without declaring any travel expenses.
Your blog also includes a weekly digest of all things happening in the Java ecosystem called Java Weekly. What are the biggest insights into our ecosystem that you’ve gotten out of this work, yourself?
Thorben: The Java ecosystem is always changing and improving, and you need to learn constantly if you want to stay up to date. One way to do that is to read good blog posts. And there are A LOT of great, small blogs out there written by very experienced Java developers who like to share their knowledge. You just have to find them. That’s probably the biggest insight I got.
I read a lot about Java and Java EE each week (that’s probably the only advantage of a 1.5-hour commute with public transportation) and present the most interesting ones every Monday in a new issue of Java Weekly.
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