Friday, June 17, 2011

Chapter 8: The Volatile Keyword

There is yet another useful keyword available in Java that is used frequently while using Threads. It is the Volatile Keyword.

Think of the first scenario in our chapter on “Stopping Threads”. Our thread expects a value to be updated by some method and this value is checked everytime our thread is going to run inside a loop. Lets say we have implemented synchronization for our run method, we will end up with another new problem.

How can some other thread update a value that our run method is accessing? Since the method is synchronized, all the objects it is going to access are exclusively locked by our thread and so, the other thread would have to wait to update this variable. Unfortunately our thread has locked this variable so the other thread can never update this variable and hence our thread will never terminate.

Before we get into the solution part of the problem, first we must understand what the scope of a lock is.

Scope of a Lock
The scope of a lock is defined as the period of time between when the lock is grabbed and released. In our examples so far, we have used only synchronized methods; this means that the scope of these locks is the period of time it takes to execute the methods. This is referred to as method scope.

The problem at this point relates to the scope of the lock: the scope of the run() method is too large. By synchronizing the run() method, the lock is grabbed and never released.
The setDone() method performs only one operation with the done flag: it stores a value into the flag. The run() method also performs one operation with the done flag: it reads the value during each iteration of the loop. Furthermore, it does not matter if the value changes during the iteration of these methods, as each loop must complete anyway.

The issue here is that we potentially have a race condition because one piece of data is being shared between two different threads. In our first example, the race condition came about because the threads were accessing multiple pieces of data and there was no way to update all of them atomically without using the synchronized keyword. When only a single piece of data is involved, there is a different solution.

Java specifies that basic loading and storing of variables (except for long and double variables) is atomic. That means the value of the variable can't be found in an interim state during the store, nor can it be changed in the middle of loading the variable to a register. The setDone() method has only one store operation; therefore, it is atomic. The run( ) method has only one read operation. Since the rest of the run() method does not depend on the value of the variable remaining constant, the race condition should not exist in this case.

Unfortunately, Java's memory model is a bit more complex. Threads are allowed to hold the values of variables in local memory (e.g., in a machine register). In that case, when one thread changes the value of the variable, another thread may not see the changed variable. This is particularly true in loops that are controlled by a variable (like the done flag that we are using to terminate the thread): the looping thread may have already loaded the value of the variable into a register and does not necessarily notice when another thread changes the variable.

One way to solve this problem is to provide setter and getter methods for the variable. We can then simply synchronize access by using the synchronized keyword on these methods. This works because acquiring a synchronization lock means that all temporary values stored in registers are flushed to main memory. However, Java provides a more elegant solution: the volatile keyword. If a variable is marked as volatile, every time the variable is used it must be read from main memory. Similarly, every time the variable is written, the value must be stored in main memory. Since these operations are atomic, we can avoid the race condition in our example by marking our done flag as volatile.

So why is volatile necessary? Volatile variables solve only the problem introduced by Java's memory model. They can be used only when the operations that use the variable are atomic; meaning the methods that access the variable must use only a single load or store. If the method has other code, that code may not depend on the variable changing its value during its operation.

As we mentioned, we could have solved this problem by using synchronized setter and getter methods to access the variable. However, that would be fairly complex. We must invoke another method, including setting up parameters and the return variable. We must grab and release the lock necessary to invoke the method. And all for a single line of code, with one atomic operation, that is called many times within a loop. The concept of using a done flag is common enough that we can make a very strong case for the volatile keyword.

Previous: The Synchronized Keyword

Chapter 7: The Synchronized Keyword

The synchronized keyword is one of the most important keywords that you may use while using Threads. At the end of the previous chapter, we had used the term race-condition. In crude terms it refers to a scenario wherein one thread is attempting to read a value that is being changed by another thread. The purpose of the synchronized keyword is to help prevent such a situation.

Before we try to understand what the Synchronized Keyword does, lets try to understand what a Race Condition is:

Lets say you have a class that has a variable “var1”. You have two threads – Thread 1 and Thread 2. Thread 1 is going to wake up every 5 seconds and display the value in this variable on screen. Whereas, Thread 2 is going to wake up every 15 seconds and ask the user for inputs on the value he wishes to see on screen. Both Thread 1 and Thread 2 are working on the same data “var1” here.

Did you guess the problem here?

Lets say you are the user and the system has beeped you asking for the text. If you take more than 5 seconds to enter the value, thread 1 is going to pick up the old value in “var1” and try to display it on screen while you are trying to update this “var1” with your input.

This is a race condition – a situation wherein one thread tries to read a data that is being concurrently modified by another thread.

A race condition exists because these two methods are not atomic.

What is Atomic?
The term atomic is related to the atom, once considered the smallest possible unit of matter, unable to be broken into separate parts. When computer code is considered atomic, it cannot be interrupted during its execution. This can either be accomplished in hardware or simulated in software. Generally, atomic instructions are provided in hardware and are used to implement atomic methods in software.
In our case, we define atomic code as code that can't be found in an intermediate state. In our example, it means that when one thread is trying to read the data for display on screen, the other thread wouldn't be allowed to update or edit it. At no point of time would either threads be working on data that is not consistent.

The Java specification provides certain mechanisms that deal specifically with this problem. The Java language provides the synchronized keyword especially and exclusively for this purpose only. This keyword allows the programmer access to a resource that is very similar to a mutex lock. For our purposes, it simply prevents two or more threads from calling the methods of the same object at the same time.

What is a Mutex Lock?
A mutex lock is also known as a mutually exclusive lock. This type of lock is provided by many threading systems as a means of synchronization. Only one thread can grab a mutex at a time: if two threads try to grab a mutex, only one succeeds. The other thread has to wait until the first thread releases the lock before it can grab the lock and continue operation.
In Java, every object has an associated lock. When a method is declared synchronized, the executing thread must grab the lock associated with the object before it can continue. Upon completion of the method, the lock is automatically released.

By declaring our two methods that display data on screen and the one that reads user input synchronized, we eliminate the race condition. If one thread wants to call one of these methods while another thread is already executing one of them, the second thread must wait: the first thread gets to complete execution of its method before the second thread can execute its method. Since only one thread gets to call either method at a time, only one thread at a time accesses the data.

Under the covers, the concept of synchronization is simple: when a method is declared synchronized, the thread that wants to execute the method must acquire a token, which we call a lock. Once the method has acquired (or checked out or grabbed) this lock, it executes the method and releases (or returns) the lock. No matter how the method returns; including via an exception, the lock is released. There is only one lock per object, so if two separate threads try to call synchronized methods of the same object, only one can execute the method immediately; the other has to wait until the first thread releases the lock before it can execute the method.

Previous: Determining the Current Thread

Next: The Volatile Keyword

Chapter 6: Determining the Current Thread

Sometimes, you need to find out what the current thread is. In the most common case, code that belongs to an arbitrary object may need to invoke a method of the thread class. In other circumstances, code within a thread object may want to see if the code is being executed by the thread represented by the object or by a completely different thread.

You can retrieve a reference to the current thread by calling the currentThread() method (a static method of the Thread class). Therefore, to see if code is being executed by an arbitrary thread (as opposed to the thread represented by the object), you can use this pattern:

public class MyThread extends Thread {
public void run( ) {
if (Thread.currentThread( ) != this)
throw new IllegalStateException(
"Run method called by incorrect thread");
//... more code logic ...

Similarly, within an arbitrary object, you can use the currentThread() method to obtain a reference to a current thread. This technique can be used by a Runnable object to see whether it has been interrupted:

public class MyRunnable implements Runnable {
public void run( ) {
while (!Thread.currentThread( ).isInterrupted( )) {
//... more code logic ...

In fact, the Thread class includes a static method interrupted() that returns the value of Thread.currentThread().isInterrupted(); it also clears the interrupted flag. You'll often see both uses within threaded programs.

Previous: Stopping a Thread

Next: The Synchronized Keyword

Chapter 5: Stopping a Thread

When you want a thread to terminate or stop based on some condition, you have several approaches available. For ex, you may want to terminate a thread because it has completed the intended operation or because the user clicked the exit button. Though there are many approaches to do it, we are going to take a look at the two most common ways of doing it.

1. Setting a Flag

The most common way of stopping a thread is to set some internal flag to signal that the thread should stop. The thread can then periodically query that flag to determine if it should exit.
Lets look at a sample code that follows this approach

public class Test extends Thread {
private volatile boolean done = false;
public void run( ) {
while (!done) {
public void setDone( ) {
done = true;

Here we've created the boolean flag done to signal the thread that it should quit. Now instead of looping forever, the run() method examines the state of that variable on every loop and returns when the done flag has been set. That terminates the thread.
The important point to note here is that, this boolean variable must be set appropriately by some part of your code otherwise you will be stuck with a thread that doesn't know when to stop.

For example, we can add this logic of modifying this boolean variable when the user clicks on the “Exit” button.

This raises an interesting question: is it better to create a new thread like this, or would it be better somehow to suspend the existing thread and resume it when we're ready? Of course, we don't yet have the tools necessary to program the suspension and resumption of the thread, so that's the reason we've done it this way. It would be more natural simply to suspend and resume the thread. Don't worry just yet. We will cover that very soon.

2. Interrupting a Thread

The previous method of setting a flag has a simple drawback. Lets say you have a method that updates this boolean flag. But, if you thread started the loop iteration before the flag was updated, it will have to finish the iteration and then it will check the boolean flag during the next iteration.

This may sound to be not too dangerous but imagine this:

Lets say, inside your loop, you are going to wait for user input through the command prompt. Since the user clicked Exit, he thinks the program is over whereas the program is waiting for him to type something. The user isn’t going to input anything and your thread isn’t going to die because they are both stuck.

Now do you understand why the previous method wasn't the best possible way to stop a thread?
When you arrange for a thread to terminate, you often want it to complete its blocking method immediately: you don't want to wait for the data (or whatever be the case) anymore because the thread is going to exit anyway. You can use the interrupt() method of the Thread class to interrupt any blocking method.

The interrupt() method has two effects. First, it causes any blocked method to throw an InterruptedException.

The second effect is to set a flag inside the thread object that indicates the thread has been interrupted. To query this flag, use the isInterrupted() method. That method returns true if the thread has been interrupted.

Here's how a thread uses this information to determine whether or not it should terminate:

public class TestAgain extends Thread {

public void run( ) {
while (!isInterrupted( )) {

This example is almost exactly the same as the one in which we use a done flag to signal that the thread should return. In this case, we use the interrupted flag instead. That means we no longer need the setDone() method. Instead of calling the setDone() method, the actionPerformed( ) method associated with the Exit button in our application now does this:

producer.interrupt( );

So, when the main thread executes this statement while our thread is sleeping, it gets the interrupted exception and immediately returns from the run() method.
Otherwise, when our thread goes for the next iteration of the loop, it sees that the interrupted flag has been set and returns from its run() method. Either ways, our thread completes its task and terminates.

Note that this technique does not completely eliminate the possibility of indefinite wait that we saw with the set flag technique but is better that technique. Such a situation is called a race condition and we shall be covering it in depth in future and learn how to program in such a way that our threads perform optimally.

Previous: Thread Lifecycle

Next: Determining the Current Thread

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chapter 4: The Lifecycle of a Thread

Now that we know how to create a thread, the next step in the learning process it to understand the lifecycle of a thread.

Before we get started:

The class Thread contains many methods that might affect the life of a thread. They are:
public void start( );
public void run( );
public void stop( ); // Deprecated, do not use
public void resume( ); // Deprecated, do not use
public void suspend( ); // Deprecated, do not use
public static void sleep(long millis);
public static void sleep(long millis, int nanos);
public boolean isAlive( );
public void interrupt( );
public boolean isInterrupted( );
public static boolean interrupted( );
public void join( ) throws InterruptedException;

Each of these methods has a purpose and an effect on the thread when used.

Creating a Thread

The first phase in this lifecycle is thread creation. Threads are represented by instances of the Thread class, so creating a thread is done by calling a constructor of that class. In our example, we use the simplest constructor available to us. Additional constructors of the Thread class allow you to specify the thread's name or a Runnable object to serve as the thread's target.

All threads have names that serve to identify them in the virtual machine. By default, that name consists of information about the thread: its priority, its thread group, and other thread information. If you like, you can give a thread a different name, perhaps one that will have meaning to you if you print it out.

Starting a Thread

A thread exists once it has been constructed, but at that point it is not executing any code. The thread is in a waiting state.

In this waiting state, other threads can interact with the existing thread object. Various attributes of the waiting thread can be set: its priority, its name, its daemon status, and so on. Therefore, even though the thread is waiting, its state may be changed by other threads.
When you're ready for the thread to begin executing code, you call its start() method. This method performs some internal housekeeping and calls the thread's run() method. When the start() method returns, two threads are now executing in parallel: the original thread (which has returned from calling the start() method) and the newly started thread (which is now executing its run() method).

After its start() method has been called, the new thread is said to be alive. In fact, the Thread class has an isAlive() method that tells you the state of the thread: if the isAlive() method returns true, the thread has been started and is executing its run() method. If the isAlive( ) method returns false, however, the thread may not be started yet or may be terminated.

Terminating a Thread

Once started, a thread executes only one method: the run() method. The run() method may be very complicated, it may execute forever, and it may call millions of other methods. Regardless of all this, once the run() method finishes executing, the thread has completed its execution. Like all Java methods, the run() method finishes when it executes a return statement, when it executes the last statement in its method body, or when it throws an exception or fails to catch an exception thrown to it.

As a result, the only way to terminate a thread is to arrange for its run() method to complete. If you look at the documentation of the Thread class, you notice that the class contains a stop() method which seems like it might be used to terminate a thread. It turns out that the stop() method has an inherent problem (an internal race condition, we will see what a race condition is very soon). As a result, the stop() method is deprecated and should not be used. Some Java implementations prohibit its use directly, and the security manager can also be used to prohibit programs from calling it.

There are many threads that you don't need to stop. Often, threads are performing a fixed task, and you always want the task to run to completion. In other cases, the thread can run until the application exits (e.g., when we call the System.exit() method in response to the user pressing the Quit button).

Often, however, you want a thread to continue to execute until some other condition is met.
The run() method cannot throw a checked exception, but like all Java methods, it can throw an unchecked exception. Throwing an unchecked exception (an exception that extends the RuntimeException class)—or failing to catch a runtime exception thrown by something the run( ) method has called—also causes a thread to stop.

Pausing, Suspending, and Resuming Threads

Once a thread begins executing its run() method, it continues execution until the run() method completes. If you're familiar with other thread models, you may know of a concept called thread suspension, where a thread is told to pause its execution. Later, the thread is resumed, which is to say that it is told to continue its execution. The Thread class contains suspend() and resume() methods, but they suffer from the same race condition problem as the stop() method, and they, too, are deprecated.

It is possible for a thread to suspend its own execution for a specific period of time by calling the sleep() method. When a thread executes the sleep() method, it pauses for a given number of milliseconds, during which it is said to be asleep. When the pause time has elapsed, the thread wakes up and continues execution with the statements immediately following the sleep() method.

The Thread class provides a version of the sleep() method that allows the developer to specify the time in nanoseconds. Most Java virtual machines do not support this sort of precise timing. When the sleep() method executes, it rounds the nanosecond argument to the nearest millisecond. In fact, most operating systems then further adjust the millisecond argument so that it is a multiple of some number: e.g., 20 or 50 milliseconds. Consequently, the least amount of time that you can sleep on most Java implementations is 20 or 50 milliseconds.
Note that this is true even in J2SE 5.0, which introduces other nanosecond time functionality (e.g., the System.nanoTime() method). The resolution of the sleep( ) method is still only good to a few milliseconds.

Strictly speaking, sleeping is not the same thing as thread suspension. One important difference is that with true thread suspension, one thread would suspend (and later resume) another thread. Conversely, the sleep() method affects only the thread that executes it; it's not possible to tell another thread to go to sleep.

Threads can use the wait and notify mechanism to achieve the functionality of thread suspension and resumption. The difference is that the threads must be coded to use that technique (rather than a generic suspend/resume mechanism that could be imposed from other threads). Don't worry much about the wait and notify just yet. We will cover it in detail very soon.

Thread Cleanup

A thread that has completed its run() method has terminated. It is no longer active (the isAlive() method returns false). However, the thread object itself may be holding interesting information. As long as some other active object holds a reference to the terminated thread object, other threads can execute methods on the terminated thread and retrieve that information. If the thread object representing the terminated thread goes out of scope, the thread object is garbage collected. On some platforms, this also has the effect of cleaning up system resources associated with the thread.

In general, then, you should not hold onto thread references so that they may be collected when the thread terminates.

One reason to hold onto a thread reference is to determine when it has completed its work. That can be accomplished with the join() method. The join() method is often used when you have started threads to perform discrete tasks and want to know when the tasks have completed.
The join() method blocks until the thread has completed its run() method. If the thread has already completed its run() method, the join() method returns immediately. This means that you may call the join() method any number of times to see whether a thread has terminated. Be aware, though, that the first time you call the join() method, it blocks until the thread has actually completed. You cannot use the join() method to poll a thread to see if it's running (instead, use the isAlive() method just discussed).

Previous: Creating a Thread

Next: Stopping a Thread

Chapter 3: Creating a Thread

Creating a Thread is fairly simple. The complexities get introduced once you have your threads running and then you see that the output isn’t what you exactly expected. Well, I don’t want to jump ahead too much. We will learn all those complexities one by one. For now lets keep our focus on how to create threads.

You can create threads in two ways:

1. By Extending the Thread Class
2. By Implementing the Runnable Interface

Common sense related to Java Programming tells us that using the interface may be a better option because, your class may need to inherit features from its parent class or such a feature may be required in future. Either ways, it would be a better idea to implement the Runnable Interface so that our classes can do, what they were designed/created to do.

Am gonna keep this chapter short and sweet because, I have already explained about how to Create a Thread extensively during the chapters on the SCJP Certification series.

You can view that by clicking here - Creating Java Threads

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Next: Lifecycle of a Thread

Chapter 2: What Is a Thread?

A thread is an application task that is executed by a host computer. The notion of a task should be familiar to you even if the terminology is not.

Suppose you have a Java program to do some task:

public class DoSomething{
public static void main(String[] args) {
Task 1;
Task 2;
Task 3;

Task N;

When your computer runs this application, it executes a sequence of commands. At an abstract level, that list of commands looks like this:

• Do Task 1
• Do Task 2
• Continue on until you reach Task N
• Exit the Program

Behind the scenes, what happens is somewhat more complicated since the instructions that are executed are actually machine-level assembly instructions; each of our logical steps requires many machine instructions to execute. But the principle is the same: an application is executed as a series of instructions. The execution path of these instructions is a thread.

Consequently, every computer program has at least one thread: the thread that executes the body of the application. In a Java application, that thread is called the main thread, and it begins executing statements with the first statement of the main() method of your class. In other programming languages, the starting point may be different, and the terminology may be different, but the basic idea is the same.

For Java applications, execution begins with the main() method of the class being run. What about other Java programs?
In applets, servlets, and other J2EE programs, execution still begins with the main() method of the program, but in this case, the main() method belongs to the Java plug-in or J2EE container. Those containers then call your code through predetermined, well-known locations. An applet is called via its init() and start() methods; a servlet is called through its doGet() and doPost() methods, and so on.
In any case, the procedure is the same: execution of your code begins with the first statements and proceeds by a single thread sequentially.

In a Java program, it so happens that every program has more than one thread. Many of these are threads that developers are unaware of, such as threads that perform garbage collection and compile Java bytecodes into machine-level instructions. In a graphical application, other threads handle input from the mouse and keyboard and play audio. Your Java application is highly threaded, whether you program & code additional threads into it or not.

Returning to our example, let's suppose that we wrote a program that performed two tasks: one calculated the factorial of a number and one calculated the square root of that number. These are two separate tasks, and so you could choose to write them as two separate threads. Now how would your application run?

The answer to that depends on the conditions under which the application is run. The Java virtual machine now has two distinct lists of instructions to execute. One list calculates the factorial of a number, and the other list calculates the square root of the number. The Java virtual machine executes both of these lists almost simultaneously.

Although you may not have thought about it in these terms, this situation should also be familiar to you from the computer on which you normally do your work. The program you use to read your email is a list of instructions that the computer executes. So too is the program that you use to listen to music. You're able to read email and listen to music at the same time because the computer executes both lists of instructions at about the same time.

In fact, what happens is that the computer executes a handful of instructions from the email application and then executes a handful of instructions from the music program. It continues this procedure, switching back and forth between lists of instructions, and it does that quickly enough so that both programs appear to be executing at the same time. Quickly enough, in fact, that there are no gaps in the music.

If you happen to have more than one CPU on your computer, the lists of instructions can execute at exactly the same time: one list can execute on each CPU. But multiple CPUs aren't necessary to give the appearance of simultaneous execution or to exploit the power of threading. A single CPU can appear to execute both lists of instructions in parallel, letting you read your email and listen to music simultaneously.

Threads behave exactly the same way. In our case, the Java virtual machine executes a handful of the instructions to calculate the factorial and then executes a handful of instructions to calculate the square root, and so on.

So threads are simply tasks that you want to execute at roughly the same time. Why, then, write an application with multiple threads? Why not just write multiple applications? The answer lies in the fact that because threads are running in the same application, they share the same memory space in the computer. This allows them to share information seamlessly. Your email program and your music application don't communicate very well. At best, you can copy and paste some data (like the name of a file) between the two. That allows you to double-click on an MP3 attachment in your email and play it in your music application, but the only information that is shared between the two is the name of the MP3 file.

In a multitasking environment, data in the programs is separated by default: each has its own stack for local variables, and each has its own area for objects and other data. All the programs can access various types of shared memory (including the name of the MP3 file that you clicked on in your email program). The shared memory is restricted to information put there by other programs, and the APIs to access it are usually quite different than the APIs used to access other data in the program.

This type of data sharing is fine for dissimilar programs, but it is inadequate for other programs that need to communicate with one another. Consider a network server that sends stock quotes to multiple clients. Sending a quote to a client is a discrete task and may be done in a separate thread. In fact, if the client must acknowledge the quote, then sending the data in separate threads is highly recommended: you don't want all clients to wait for a particularly slow client to respond. Here the data to be sent to the clients is the same; you don't want each client to require a separate server process which must then replicate all the data held by every other server process. Instead, you want multiple threads in one program so that they may share data and each perform discrete tasks on that data.

Conceptually, the threads seem to be the same as programs. The key difference here is that the global memory is the entire Java heap: threads can transparently share access between any object in the heap. Each thread still has its own space for local variables (variables specific to the method the thread is executing). But objects are shared automatically and transparently.

A thread, then, is a discrete task that operates on data shared with other threads.

Previous: Introduction to Threads

Next: Creating a Thread

Chapter 1: Introduction to Threads

Threads are an important and interesting aspect of the Java Programming Language. If you are an experienced Java Programmer, you are invariably expected to know the intricacies of multi-threading. Well, this series of chapters is aimed at helping you understand this interesting and complicated concept.

So, lets get started!!!

Why Use Threads?

The notion of threading is so ingrained in Java that it's almost impossible to write even the simplest programs in Java without creating and using threads. And many of the classes in the Java API are already threaded, so often you are using multiple threads without realizing it.

The biggest question you might have is “Why use Threads?”

Well, my friend, it is not so simple to explain the reason in a couple of lines. Maybe a 100 page thesis would sound more appropriate. But still, am gonna try explaining in a short and concise manner.

First and foremost – threads increase performance. Given the processing power of the modern day processors, irrespective of how much code you write, the processor is going to finish running them in a jiffy and will remain underutilized almost 99% or more times. By creating multiple threads in your program, you are trying to utilize the processor effectively trying to keep it as little time as possible “idle”

Some of the significant reasons for using Threads are explained in the subsequent sections of this article.

Nonblocking I/O

In Java, as in most programming languages, when you try to get input from the user, you execute a read() method specifying the user's terminal ( in Java). When the program executes the read() method, the program typically waits until the user types at least one character before it continues and executes the next statement. This type of I/O is called blocking I/O : the program blocks until some data is available to satisfy the read() method.

This type of behavior is often undesirable. If you're reading data from a network socket, that data is often not available when you want to read it: the data may have been delayed in transit over the network, or you may be reading from a network server that sends data only periodically. If the program blocks when it tries to read from the socket, it's unable to do anything else until the data is actually available. If the program has a user interface that contains a button and the user presses the button while the program is executing the read() method, nothing happens: the program is unable to handle the mouse events and execute the event processing method associated with the button. This can be very frustrating for the user, who thinks the program has hung.

This kind of situation is where Threads in Java look the most promising solution.

Independent Tasks

A Java program is often called on to perform independent tasks. In the simplest case, a single applet may perform two independent animations for a web page. A more complex program would be a calculation server that performs calculations on behalf of several clients simultaneously. In either case, while it is possible to write a single-threaded program to perform multiple tasks, it's easier and more elegant to place each task in its own thread.

Parallelizable Algorithms

With the advent of virtual machines that can use multiple CPUs simultaneously, Java has become a useful platform for developing programs that use algorithms that can be parallelized; that is, running one iteration of the loop on one CPU while another iteration of the loop is simultaneously running on another CPU. Dependencies between the data that each iteration of the loop needs may prohibit a particular loop from being parallelized, and there may be other reasons why a loop should not be parallelized. But for many programs with CPU-intensive loops, parallelizing the loop greatly speeds up the execution of the program when it is run on a machine with multiple processors.

Now that we know why and how threads are useful for us as programmers, lets dig deep into the magical world of Threads!!!

Next: What is a Thread

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hibernate Interview Questions

1. Does Hibernate implement its functionality using a minimal number of database queries to ensure optimal output?

Hibernate can make certain optimizations all the time:
Caching objects - The session is a transaction-level cache of persistent objects. You may also enable a JVM-level/cluster cache to memory and/or local disk.
Executing SQL statements later, when needed - The session never issues an INSERT or UPDATE until it is actually needed. So if an exception occurs and you need to abort the transaction, some statements will never actually be issued. Furthermore, this keeps lock times in the database as short as possible (from the late UPDATE to the transaction end).
Never updating unmodified objects - It is very common in hand-coded JDBC to see the persistent state of an object updated, just in case it changed.....for example, the user pressed the save button but may not have edited any fields. Hibernate always knows if an object's state actually changed, as long as you are inside the same (possibly very long) unit of work.
Efficient Collection Handling - Likewise, Hibernate only ever inserts/updates/deletes collection rows that actually changed.
Rolling two updates into one - As a corollary to (1) and (3), Hibernate can roll two seemingly unrelated updates of the same object into one UPDATE statement.
Updating only the modified columns - Hibernate knows exactly which columns need updating and, if you choose, will update only those columns.
Outer join fetching - Hibernate implements a very efficient outer-join fetching algorithm! In addition, you can use subselect and batch pre-fetch optimizations.
Lazy collection initialization
Lazy object initialization - Hibernate can use runtime-generated proxies (CGLIB) or interception injected through byte code instrumentation at build-time.

2. Why not implement instance-pooling in Hibernate?

Firstly, it would be pointless. There is a lower bound to the amount of garbage Hibernate creates every time it loads or updates and object - the garbage created by getting or setting the object's properties using reflection.
More importantly, the disadvantage of instance-pooling is developers who forget to reinitialize fields each time an instance is reused. We have seen very subtle bugs in EJBs that don't reinitialize all fields in ejbCreate.
On the other hand, if there is a particular application object that is extremely expensive to create, you can easily implement your own instance pool for that class and use the version of Session.load() that takes a class instance. Just remember to return the objects to the pool every time you close the session.

3. Does Hibernate use runtime reflection?

Many former C or C++ programmers prefer generated-code solutions to runtime reflection. This is usually justified by reference to the performance red-herring. However, modern JVMs implement reflection extremely efficiently and the overhead is minimal compared to the cost of disk access or IPC. Developers from other traditions (e.g. Smalltalk) have always relied upon reflection to do things that C/C++ needs code-generation for.
In the very latest versions of Hibernate, "reflection" is optimised via the CGLIB runtime byte code generation library. This means that "reflected" property get / set calls no longer carry the overhead of the Java reflection API and are actually just normal method calls. This results in a (very) small performance gain.

4. How do I use Hibernate in an EJB 2.1 session bean?

1. Look up the SessionFactory in JNDI.
2. Call getCurrentSession() to get a Session for the current transaction.
3. Do your work.
4. Don't commit or close anything, let the container manage the transaction.

5. What’s the easiest way to configure Hibernate in a plain Java application (without using JNDI)?

Build a SessionFactory from a Configuration object.

6. What is Middlegen?

Middlegen is an open source code generation framework that provides a general-purpose database-driven engine using various tools such as JDBC, Velocity, Ant and XDoclet.

7. How can I count the number of query results without actually returning them?

Integer count = (Integer) session.createQuery("select count(*) from ....").uniqueResult();
8. How can I find the size of a collection without initializing it?

Integer size = (Integer) s.createFilter( collection, "select count(*)" ).uniqueResult();

9. How can I order by the size of a collection?

Use a left join, together with group by
select user
from User user
left join user.messages msg
group by user
order by count(msg)

10. How can I place a condition upon a collection size?

If your database supports subselects:
from User user where size(user.messages) >= 1
from User user where exists elements(user.messages)
If not, and in the case of a one-to-many or many-to-many association:
select user
from User user
join user.messages msg
group by user
having count(msg) >= 1
Because of the inner join, this form can't be used to return a User with zero messages, so the following form is also useful
select user
from User as user
left join user.messages as msg
group by user
having count(msg) = 0

11. How can I query for entities with empty collections?

from Box box
where box.balls is empty
Or, try this:
select box
from Box box
left join box.balls ball
where ball is null

12. How can I sort / order collection elements?

There are three different approaches:
1. Use a SortedSet or SortedMap, specifying a comparator class in the sort attribute or < set > or < map >. This solution does a sort in memory.
2. Specify an order-by attribute of < set >, < map > or < bag >, naming a list of table columns to sort by. This solution works only in JDK 1.4+.
3. Use a filter session.createFilter( collection, "order by ...." ).list()

13. Are collections pageable?

Query q = s.createFilter( collection, "" );
q.setFirstResult(PAGE_SIZE * pageNumber);
List page = q.list();
I have a one-to-one association between two classes. Ensuring that associated objects have matching identifiers is bug-prone. Is there a better way?
< generator class="foreign" >
< param name="property" > parent < / param >
< / generator >
I have a many-to-many association between two tables, but the association table has some extra columns (apart from the foreign keys). What kind of mapping should I use?
Use a composite-element to model the association table. For example, given the following association table:
create table relationship (
fk_of_foo bigint not null,
fk_of_bar bigint not null,
multiplicity smallint,
created date )
you could use this collection mapping (inside the mapping for class Foo):
< set name="relationship" >
< key column="fk_of_foo" / >
< composite-element class="Relationship" >
< property name="multiplicity" type="short" not-null="true" / >
< property name="created" type="date" not-null="true" / >
< many-to-one name="bar" class="Bar" not-null="true" / >
< / composite-element >
< / set >
You may also use an with a surrogate key column for the collection table. This would allow you to have nullable columns.
An alternative approach is to simply map the association table as a normal entity class with two bidirectional one-to-many associations.
In an MVC application, how can we ensure that all proxies and lazy collections will be initialized when the view tries to access them?
One possible approach is to leave the session open (and transaction uncommitted) when forwarding to the view. The session/transaction would be closed/committed after the view is rendered in, for example, a Servlet filter (another example would by to use the ModelLifetime.discard() callback in Maverick). One difficulty with this approach is making sure the session/transaction is closed/rolled back if an exception occurs rendering the view.
Another approach is to simply force initialization of all needed objects using Hibernate.initialize(). This is often more straightforward than it sounds.

14. How can I bind a dynamic list of values into an in query expression?

Query q = s.createQuery("from foo in class Foo where in (:id_list)");
q.setParameterList("id_list", fooIdList);
List foos = q.list();

15. How can I bind properties of a JavaBean to named query parameters?

Query q = s.createQuery("from foo in class Foo where and foo.size=:size");
q.setProperties(fooBean); // fooBean has getName() and getSize()
List foos = q.list();

16. Can I map an inner class?

You may persist any static inner class. You should specify the class name using the standard form i.e. eg.Foo$Bar

17. How can I assign a default value to a property when the database column is null?

Use a UserType.

18. How can I truncate String data?

Use a UserType.

19. How can I trim spaces from String data persisted to a CHAR column?

Use a UserType.

20. How can I convert the type of a property to/from the database column type?

Use a UserType.

21. How can I get access to O/R mapping information such as table and column names at runtime?

This information is available via the Configuration object. For example, entity mappings may be obtained using Configuration.getClassMapping(). It is even possible to manipulate this metamodel at runtime and then build a new SessionFactory.

22. How can I create an association to an entity without fetching that entity from the database (if I know the identifier)?

If the entity is proxyable (lazy="true"), simply use load(). The following code does not result in any SELECT statement:
Item itemProxy = (Item) session.load(Item.class, itemId);
Bid bid = new Bid(user, amount, itemProxy);;

23. How can I retrieve the identifier of an associated object, without fetching the association?

Just do it. The following code does not result in any SELECT statement, even if the item association is lazy.
Long itemId = bid.getItem().getId();
This works if getItem() returns a proxy and if you mapped the identifier property with regular accessor methods. If you enabled direct field access for the id of an Item, the Item proxy will be initialized if you call getId(). This method is then treated like any other business method of the proxy, initialization is required if it is called.

24. How can I manipulate mappings at runtime?

You can access (and modify) the Hibernate metamodel via the Configuration object, using getClassMapping(), getCollectionMapping(), etc.
Note that the SessionFactory is immutable and does not retain any reference to the Configuration instance, so you must re-build it if you wish to activate the modified mappings.

25. How can I avoid n+1 SQL SELECT queries when running a Hibernate query?

Follow the best practices guide! Ensure that all and mappings specify lazy="true" in Hibernate2 (this is the new default in Hibernate3). Use HQL LEFT JOIN FETCH to specify which associations you need to be retrieved in the initial SQL SELECT.
A second way to avoid the n+1 selects problem is to use fetch="subselect" in Hibernate3.
If you are still unsure, refer to the Hibernate documentation and Hibernate in Action.
I have a collection with second-level cache enabled, and Hibernate retrieves the collection elements one at a time with a SQL query per element!
Enable second-level cache for the associated entity class. Don't cache collections of uncached entity types.

26. How can I insert XML data into Oracle using the xmltype() function?

Specify custom SQL INSERT (and UPDATE) statements using and in Hibernate3, or using a custom persister in Hibernate 2.1.
You will also need to write a UserType to perform binding to/from the PreparedStatement.

27. How can I execute arbitrary SQL using Hibernate?

PreparedStatement ps = session.connection().prepareStatement(sqlString);
Or, if you wish to retrieve managed entity objects, use session.createSQLQuery().
Or, in Hibernate3, override generated SQL using , , and in the mapping document.
I want to call an SQL function from HQL, but the HQL parser does not recognize it!
Subclass your Dialect, and call registerFunction() from the constructor.

28. Why to use HQL?
• Full support for relational operations: HQL allows representing SQL queries in the form of objects. Hibernate Query Language uses Classes and properties instead of tables and columns.
• Return result as Object: The HQL queries return the query result(s) in the form of object(s), which is easy to use. This eliminates the need of creating the object and populate the data from result set.
• Polymorphic Queries: HQL fully supports polymorphic queries. Polymorphic queries results the query results along with all the child objects if any.
• Easy to Learn: Hibernate Queries are easy to learn and it can be easily implemented in the applications.
• Support for Advance features: HQL contains many advance features such as pagination, fetch join with dynamic profiling, Inner/outer/full joins, Cartesian products. It also supports Projection, Aggregation (max, avg) and grouping, Ordering, Sub queries and SQL function calls.
• Database independent: Queries written in HQL are database independent (If database supports the underlying feature).

Java Spring and Hibernate Interview Questions

1. Explain DI or IOC pattern.

Dependency injection (DI) is a programming design pattern and architectural model, sometimes also referred to as inversion of control or IOC, although technically speaking, dependency injection specifically refers to an implementation of a particular form of IOC. Dependency Injection describes the situation where one object uses a second object to provide a particular capacity. For example, being passed a database connection as an argument to the constructor method instead of creating one inside the constructor. The term "Dependency injection" is a misnomer, since it is not a dependency that is injected; rather it is a provider of some capability or resource that is injected. There are three common forms of dependency injection: setter, constructor and interface-based injection.
Dependency injection is a way to achieve loose coupling. Inversion of control (IOC) relates to the way in which an object obtains references to its dependencies. This is often done by a lookup method. The advantage of inversion of control is that it decouples objects from specific lookup mechanisms and implementations of the objects it depends on. As a result, more flexibility is obtained for production applications as well as for testing.

2. What are the different IOC containers available?

Spring is an IOC container. Other IOC containers are HiveMind, Avalon, PicoContainer.

3. What are the different types of dependency injection? Explain with examples.

There are two types of dependency injection: setter injection and constructor injection.
Setter Injection: Normally in all the java beans, we will use setter and getter method to set and get the value of property as follows:

public class namebean {
String name;
public void setName(String a) {
name = a; }
public String getName() {
return name; }

We will create an instance of the bean 'namebean' (say bean1) and set property as bean1.setName("tom"); Here in setter injection, we will set the property 'name' in spring configuration file as shown below:

< bean id="bean1" class="namebean" >
< property name="name" >
< value > tom < / value >
< / property >
< / bean >

The subelement < value > sets the 'name' property by calling the set method as setName("tom"); This process is called setter injection.

To set properties that reference other beans , subelement of is used as shown below,
< bean id="bean1" class="bean1impl" >
< property name="game" >
< ref bean="bean2" / >
< / property >
< / bean >
< bean id="bean2" class="bean2impl" / >

Constructor injection: For constructor injection, we use constructor with parameters as shown below,

public class namebean {
String name;
public namebean(String a) {
name = a;

We will set the property 'name' while creating an instance of the bean 'namebean' as namebean bean1 = new namebean("tom");

Here we use the < constructor-arg > element to set the property by constructor injection as
< bean id="bean1" class="namebean" >
< constructor-arg >
< value > My Bean Value < / value >
< / constructor-arg >
< / bean >

4. What is spring? What are the various parts of spring framework? What are the different persistence frameworks which could be used with spring?

Spring is an open source framework created to address the complexity of enterprise application development. One of the chief advantages of the Spring framework is its layered architecture, which allows you to be selective about which of its components you use while also providing a cohesive framework for J2EE application development. The Spring modules are built on top of the core container, which defines how beans are created, configured, and managed. Each of the modules (or components) that comprise the Spring framework can stand on its own or be implemented jointly with one or more of the others. The functionality of each component is as follows:

The core container: The core container provides the essential functionality of the Spring framework. A primary component of the core container is the BeanFactory, an implementation of the Factory pattern. The BeanFactory applies the Inversion of Control (IOC) pattern to separate an application’s configuration and dependency specification from the actual application code.

Spring context: The Spring context is a configuration file that provides context information to the Spring framework. The Spring context includes enterprise services such as JNDI, EJB, e-mail, internalization, validation, and scheduling functionality.

Spring AOP: The Spring AOP module integrates aspect-oriented programming functionality directly into the Spring framework, through its configuration management feature. As a result you can easily AOP-enable any object managed by the Spring framework. The Spring AOP module provides transaction management services for objects in any Spring-based application. With Spring AOP you can incorporate declarative transaction management into your applications without relying on EJB components.

Spring DAO: The Spring JDBC DAO abstraction layer offers a meaningful exception hierarchy for managing the exception handling and error messages thrown by different database vendors. The exception hierarchy simplifies error handling and greatly reduces the amount of exception code you need to write, such as opening and closing connections. Spring DAO’s JDBC-oriented exceptions comply to its generic DAO exception hierarchy.

Spring ORM: The Spring framework plugs into several ORM frameworks to provide its Object Relational tool, including JDO, Hibernate, and iBatis SQL Maps. All of these comply to Spring’s generic transaction and DAO exception hierarchies.

Spring Web module: The Web context module builds on top of the application context module, providing contexts for Web-based applications. As a result, the Spring framework supports integration with Jakarta Struts. The Web module also eases the tasks of handling multi-part requests and binding request parameters to domain objects.

Spring MVC framework: The Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework is a full-featured MVC implementation for building Web applications. The MVC framework is highly configurable via strategy interfaces and accommodates numerous view technologies including JSP, Velocity, Tiles, iText, and POI.

5. What is AOP? How does it relate with IOC? What are different tools to utilize AOP?

Aspect-oriented programming, or AOP, is a programming technique that allows programmers to modularize crosscutting concerns, or behaviour that cuts across the typical divisions of responsibility, such as logging and transaction management. The core construct of AOP is the aspect, which encapsulates behaviours affecting multiple classes into reusable modules. AOP and IOC are complementary technologies in that both apply a modular approach to complex problems in enterprise application development. In a typical object-oriented development approach you might implement logging functionality by putting logger statements in all your methods and Java classes. In an AOP approach you would instead modularize the logging services and apply them declaratively to the components that required logging. The advantage, of course, is that the Java class doesn't need to know about the existence of the logging service or concern itself with any related code. As a result, application code written using Spring AOP is loosely coupled. The best tool to utilize AOP to its capability is AspectJ. However AspectJ works at the byte code level and you need to use AspectJ compiler to get the aop features built into your compiled code. Nevertheless AOP functionality is fully integrated into the Spring context for transaction management, logging, and various other features. In general any AOP framework control aspects in three possible ways:

Joinpoints: Points in a program's execution. For example, joinpoints could define calls to specific methods in a class
Pointcuts: Program constructs to designate joinpoints and collect specific context at those points
Advices: Code that runs upon meeting certain conditions. For example, an advice could log a message before executing a joinpoint

6. What are the advantages of spring framework?

Spring has layered architecture. Use what you need and leave you don't need.
Spring Enables POJO Programming. There is no behind the scene magic here. POJO programming enables continuous integration and testability.
Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control Simplifies JDBC
Open source and no vendor lock-in.
7. Can you name a tool which could provide the initial ant files and directory structure for a new spring project?

Appfuse or equinox.

8. Explain BeanFactory in spring.

Bean factory is an implementation of the factory design pattern and its function is to create and dispense beans. As the bean factory knows about many objects within an application, it is able to create association between collaborating objects as they are instantiated. This removes the burden of configuration from the bean and the client. There are several implementation of BeanFactory. The most useful one is "org.springframework.beans.factory.xml.XmlBeanFactory" It loads its beans based on the definition contained in an XML file. To create an XmlBeanFactory, pass a InputStream to the constructor. The resource will provide the XML to the factory.
BeanFactory factory = new XmlBeanFactory(new FileInputStream("myBean.xml"));

This line tells the bean factory to read the bean definition from the XML file. The bean definition includes the description of beans and their properties. But the bean factory doesn't instantiate the bean yet. To retrieve a bean from a 'BeanFactory', the getBean() method is called. When getBean() method is called, factory will instantiate the bean and begin setting the bean's properties using dependency injection.

myBean bean1 = (myBean)factory.getBean("myBean");

9. Explain the role of ApplicationContext in spring.

While Bean Factory is used for simple applications; the Application Context is spring's more advanced container. Like 'BeanFactory' it can be used to load bean definitions, wire beans together and dispense beans upon request. It also provide

1) A means for resolving text messages, including support for internationalization.
2) A generic way to load file resources.
3) Events to beans that are registered as listeners.

Because of additional functionality, 'Application Context' is preferred over a BeanFactory. Only when the resource is scarce like mobile devices, 'BeanFactory' is used. The three commonly used implementation of 'Application Context' are

1. ClassPathXmlApplicationContext : It Loads context definition from an XML file located in the classpath, treating context definitions as classpath resources. The application context is loaded from the application's classpath by using the code

ApplicationContext context = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("bean.xml");

2. FileSystemXmlApplicationContext : It loads context definition from an XML file in the filesystem. The application context is loaded from the file system by using the code

ApplicationContext context = new FileSystemXmlApplicationContext("bean.xml");

3. XmlWebApplicationContext : It loads context definition from an XML file contained within a web application.

10. How does Spring supports DAO in hibernate?

Spring’s HibernateDaoSupport class is a convenient super class for Hibernate DAOs. It has handy methods you can call to get a Hibernate Session, or a SessionFactory. The most convenient method is getHibernateTemplate(), which returns a HibernateTemplate. This template wraps Hibernate checked exceptions with runtime exceptions, allowing your DAO interfaces to be Hibernate exception-free.

public class UserDAOHibernate extends HibernateDaoSupport {

public User getUser(Long id) {
return (User) getHibernateTemplate().get(User.class, id);
public void saveUser(User user) {
if (log.isDebugEnabled()) {
log.debug(“userId set to: “ + user.getID());
public void removeUser(Long id) {
Object user = getHibernateTemplate().load(User.class, id);


11. What are the id generator classes in hibernate?

increment: It generates identifiers of type long, short or int that are unique only when no other process is inserting data into the same table. It should not the used in the clustered environment.
identity: It supports identity columns in DB2, MySQL, MS SQL Server, Sybase and HypersonicSQL. The returned identifier is of type long, short or int.
sequence: The sequence generator uses a sequence in DB2, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SAP DB, McKoi or a generator in Interbase. The returned identifier is of type long, short or int
hilo: The hilo generator uses a hi/lo algorithm to efficiently generate identifiers of type long, short or int, given a table and column (by default hibernate_unique_key and next_hi respectively) as a source of hi values. The hi/lo algorithm generates identifiers that are unique only for a particular database. Do not use this generator with connections enlisted with JTA or with a user-supplied connection.
seqhilo: The seqhilo generator uses a hi/lo algorithm to efficiently generate identifiers of type long, short or int, given a named database sequence.
uuid: The uuid generator uses a 128-bit UUID algorithm to generate identifiers of type string, unique within a network (the IP address is used). The UUID is encoded as a string of hexadecimal digits of length 32.
guid: It uses a database-generated GUID string on MS SQL Server and MySQL.
native: It picks identity, sequence or hilo depending upon the capabilities of the underlying database.
assigned: lets the application to assign an identifier to the object before save() is called. This is the default strategy if no element is specified.
select: retrieves a primary key assigned by a database trigger by selecting the row by some unique key and retrieving the primary key value.
foreign: uses the identifier of another associated object. Usually used in conjunction with a primary key association.

12. How is a typical spring implementation look like?

For a typical Spring Application we need the following files

1. An interface that defines the functions.
2. An Implementation that contains properties, its setter and getter methods, functions etc.,
3. A XML file called Spring configuration file.
4. Client program that uses the function.

13. How do you define hibernate mapping file in spring?

Add the hibernate mapping file entry in mapping resource inside Spring’s applicationContext.xml file in the web/WEB-INF directory.

< property name="mappingResources" >
< list >
< value > org/appfuse/model/User.hbm.xml < / value >
< / list >
< / property >

14. How do you configure spring in a web application?

It is very easy to configure any J2EE-based web application to use Spring. At the very least, you can simply add Spring’s ContextLoaderListener to your web.xml file:

< listener >
< listener-class > org.springframework.web.context.ContextLoaderListener < / listener-class >
< / listener >

15. Can you have xyz.xml file instead of applicationcontext.xml?

ContextLoaderListener is a ServletContextListener that initializes when your webapp starts up. By default, it looks for Spring’s configuration file at WEB-INF/applicationContext.xml. You can change this default value by specifying a element named “contextConfigLocation.” Example:

< listener >
< listener-class > org.springframework.web.context.ContextLoaderListener

< context-param >
< param-name > contextConfigLocation < / param-name >
< param-value > /WEB-INF/xyz.xml< / param-value >
< / context-param >

< / listener-class >
< / listener >

16. How do you configure your database driver in spring?

Using datasource "org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DriverManagerDataSource". Example:

< bean id="dataSource" class="org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DriverManagerDataSource" >
< property name="driverClassName" >
< value > org.hsqldb.jdbcDriver < / value >
< / property >
< property name="url" >
< value > jdbc:hsqldb:db/appfuse < / value >
< / property >
< property name="username" > < value > sa < / value > < / property >
< property name="password" > < value > < / value > < / property >
< / bean >

17. How can you configure JNDI instead of datasource in spring applicationcontext.xml?

Using "org.springframework.jndi.JndiObjectFactoryBean". Example:

< bean id="dataSource" class="org.springframework.jndi.JndiObjectFactoryBean" >
< property name="jndiName" >
< value > java:comp/env/jdbc/appfuse < / value >
< / property >
< / bean >

18. What are the key benefits of Hibernate?

These are the key benifits of Hibernate:
Transparent persistence based on POJOs without byte code processing
Powerful object-oriented hibernate query language
Descriptive O/R Mapping through mapping file.
Automatic primary key generation
Hibernate cache: Session Level, Query and Second level cache.
Performance: Lazy initialization, Outer join fetching, Batch fetching

19. What is hibernate session and session factory? How do you configure sessionfactory in spring configuration file?

Hibernate Session is the main runtime interface between a Java application and Hibernate. SessionFactory allows applications to create hibernate session by reading hibernate configurations file hibernate.cfg.xml.

// Initialize the Hibernate environment
Configuration cfg = new Configuration().configure();
// Create the session factory
SessionFactory factory = cfg.buildSessionFactory();
// Obtain the new session object
Session session = factory.openSession();

The call to Configuration().configure() loads the hibernate.cfg.xml configuration file and initializes the Hibernate environment. Once the configuration is initialized, you can make any additional modifications you desire programmatically. However, you must make these modifications prior to creating the SessionFactory instance. An instance of SessionFactory is typically created once and used to create all sessions related to a given context.
The main function of the Session is to offer create, read and delete operations for instances of mapped entity classes. Instances may exist in one of three states:

transient: never persistent, not associated with any Session
persistent: associated with a unique Session
detached: previously persistent, not associated with any Session

A Hibernate Session object represents a single unit-of-work for a given data store and is opened by a SessionFactory instance. You must close Sessions when all work for a transaction is completed. The following illustrates a typical Hibernate session:
Session session = null;
UserInfo user = null;
Transaction tx = null;
try {
session = factory.openSession();
tx = session.beginTransaction();
user = (UserInfo)session.load(UserInfo.class, id);
} catch(Exception e) {
if (tx != null) {
try {
} catch (HibernateException e1) {
throw new DAOException(e1.toString()); }
} throw new DAOException(e.toString());
} finally {
if (session != null) {
try {
} catch (HibernateException e) { }

20. What is the difference between hibernate get and load methods?

The load() method is older; get() was added to Hibernate’s API due to user request. The difference is trivial:
The following Hibernate code snippet retrieves a User object from the database:
User user = (User) session.get(User.class, userID);

The get() method is special because the identifier uniquely identifies a single instance of a class. Hence it’s common for applications to use the identifier as a convenient handle to a persistent object. Retrieval by identifier can use the cache when retrieving an object, avoiding a database hit if the object is already cached.
Hibernate also provides a load() method:
User user = (User) session.load(User.class, userID);

If load() can’t find the object in the cache or database, an exception is thrown. The load() method never returns null. The get() method returns
null if the object can’t be found. The load() method may return a proxy instead of a real persistent instance. A proxy is a placeholder instance of a runtime-generated subclass (through cglib or Javassist) of a mapped persistent class, it can initialize itself if any method is called that is not the mapped database identifier getter-method. On the other hand, get() never returns a proxy. Choosing between get() and load() is easy: If you’re certain the persistent object exists, and nonexistence would be considered exceptional, load() is a good option. If you aren’t certain there is a persistent instance with the given identifier, use get() and test the return value to see if it’s null. Using load() has a further implication: The application may retrieve a valid reference (a proxy) to a persistent instance without hitting the database to retrieve its persistent state. So load() might not throw an exception when it doesn’t find the persistent object in the cache or database; the exception would be thrown later, when the proxy is accessed.

21. What type of transaction management is supported in hibernate?

Hibernate communicates with the database via a JDBC Connection; hence it must support both managed and non-managed transactions.

Non-managed in web containers:

< bean id="transactionManager" class="org.springframework.orm.hibernate.HibernateTransactionManager" >
< property name="sessionFactory" >
< ref local="sessionFactory" / >
< / property >
< / bean >

Managed in application server using JTA:

< bean id="transactionManager" class="org.springframework.transaction.jta.JtaTransactionManager." >
< property name="sessionFactory" >
< ref local="sessionFactory" / >
< / property >
< / bean >

22. What is lazy loading and how do you achieve that in hibernate?

Lazy setting decides whether to load child objects while loading the Parent Object. You need to specify parent class.Lazy = true in hibernate mapping file. By default the lazy loading of the child objects is true. This make sure that the child objects are not loaded unless they are explicitly invoked in the application by calling getChild() method on parent. In this case hibernate issues a fresh database call to load the child when getChild() is actually called on the Parent object. But in some cases you do need to load the child objects when parent is loaded. Just make the lazy=false and hibernate will load the child when parent is loaded from the database. Examples: Address child of User class can be made lazy if it is not required frequently. But you may need to load the Author object for Book parent whenever you deal with the book for online bookshop.

Hibernate does not support lazy initialization for detached objects. Access to a lazy association outside of the context of an open Hibernate session will result in an exception.

23. What are the different fetching strategies in Hibernate?

Hibernate3 defines the following fetching strategies:

Join fetching - Hibernate retrieves the associated instance or collection in the same SELECT, using an OUTER JOIN.

Select fetching - a second SELECT is used to retrieve the associated entity or collection. Unless you explicitly disable lazy fetching by specifying lazy="false", this second select will only be executed when you actually access the association.

Subselect fetching - a second SELECT is used to retrieve the associated collections for all entities retrieved in a previous query or fetch. Unless you explicitly disable lazy fetching by specifying lazy="false", this second select will only be executed when you actually access the association.

Batch fetching - an optimization strategy for select fetching - Hibernate retrieves a batch of entity instances or collections in a single SELECT, by specifying a list of primary keys or foreign keys.

24. What are different types of cache hibernate supports?

Caching is widely used for optimizing database applications. Hibernate uses two different caches for objects: first-level cache and second-level cache. First-level cache is associated with the Session object, while second-level cache is associated with the Session Factory object. By default, Hibernate uses first-level cache on a per-transaction basis. Hibernate uses this cache mainly to reduce the number of SQL queries it needs to generate within a given transaction. For example, if an object is modified several times within the same transaction, Hibernate will generate only one SQL UPDATE statement at the end of the transaction, containing all the modifications. To reduce database traffic, second-level cache keeps loaded objects at the Session Factory level between transactions. These objects are available to the whole application, not just to the user running the query. This way, each time a query returns an object that is already loaded in the cache, one or more database transactions potentially are avoided. In addition, you can use a query-level cache if you need to cache actual query results, rather than just persistent objects. The query cache should always be used in conjunction with the second-level cache. Hibernate supports the following open-source cache implementations out-of-the-box:

EHCache is a fast, lightweight, and easy-to-use in-process cache. It supports read-only and read/write caching, and memory and disk-based caching. However, it does not support clustering.
OSCache is another open-source caching solution. It is part of a larger package, which also provides caching functionalities for JSP pages or arbitrary objects. It is a powerful and flexible package, which, like EHCache, supports read-only and read/write caching, and memory- and disk-based caching. It also provides basic support for clustering via either JavaGroups or JMS.
SwarmCache is a simple cluster-based caching solution based on JavaGroups. It supports read-only or nonstrict read/write caching (the next section explains this term). This type of cache is appropriate for applications that typically have many more read operations than write operations.
JBoss TreeCache is a powerful replicated (synchronous or asynchronous) and transactional cache. Use this solution if you really need a true transaction-capable caching architecture.
Commercial Tangosol Coherence cache.
25. What are the different caching strategies?

The following four caching strategies are available:
Read-only: This strategy is useful for data that is read frequently but never updated. This is by far the simplest and best-performing cache strategy.
Read/write: Read/write caches may be appropriate if your data needs to be updated. They carry more overhead than read-only caches. In non-JTA environments, each transaction should be completed when Session.close() or Session.disconnect() is called.
Nonstrict read/write: This strategy does not guarantee that two transactions won't simultaneously modify the same data. Therefore, it may be most appropriate for data that is read often but only occasionally modified.
Transactional: This is a fully transactional cache that may be used only in a JTA environment.
26. How do you configure 2nd level cache in hibernate?

To activate second-level caching, you need to define the hibernate.cache.provider_class property in the hibernate.cfg.xml file as follows:
< hibernate-configuration >
< session-factory >
< property name="hibernate.cache.provider_class" >org.hibernate.cache.EHCacheProvider< / property >
< / session-factory >
< / hibernate-configuration >

By default, the second-level cache is activated and uses the EHCache provider.
To use the query cache you must first enable it by setting the property hibernate.cache.use_query_cache to true in

27. What is the difference between sorted and ordered collection in hibernate?

A sorted collection is sorted in-memory using java comparator, while order collection is ordered at the database level using order by clause.

28. What are the types of inheritance models and describe how they work like vertical inheritance and horizontal?

There are three types of inheritance mapping in hibernate:

Example: Let us take the simple example of 3 java classes. Class Manager and Worker are inherited from Employee Abstract class.
1. Table per concrete class with unions: In this case there will be 2 tables. Tables: Manager, Worker [all common attributes will be duplicated]
2. Table per class hierarchy: Single Table can be mapped to a class hierarchy. There will be only one table in database called 'Employee' that will represent all the attributes required for all 3 classes. But it needs some discriminating column to differentiate between Manager and worker;
3. Table per subclass: In this case there will be 3 tables represent Employee, Manager and Worker

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Basics of Event Handling

In the previous chapters, we had seen how to create various Swing UI components. What good is a UI component that cannot handle user actions? Lets say you want to open a pop up when the user clicks a button or you want to save some data user entered in the screen when he clicks save, how would you do it?

Event Handling is your answer. Each of the two examples mentioned above are user stimulated events and using event handling, we can handle the events and take appropriate action.

The next thing your mind says is, what is event handling? Right??

Well, that is exactly what we are going to learn in this and the next few chapters.

So, lets get started!!!

What is Event Handling?

Any operating environment that supports GUIs constantly monitors events such as keystrokes or mouse clicks. The operating environment reports these events to the programs that are running. Each program then decides what, if anything, to do in response to these events. For example, if you use the start menu and then click on My Computer, the OS identifies the fact that you want to view the details of your computer and opens up the Explorer window. The click on the icon is an event and the opening of the explorer window is how the OS handles the event.

As one would expect in an object-oriented language like Java, the information about the event is encapsulated in an event object. In Java, all event objects ultimately derive from the class java.util.EventObject. Of course, there are subclasses for each event type, such as ActionEvent and WindowEvent.
Different event sources can produce different kinds of events. For example, a button can send ActionEvent objects, whereas a window can send WindowEvent objects.

Below is how Events are handled in AWT:
• A listener object is an instance of a class that implements a special interface called a listener interface.
• An event source is an object that can register listener objects and send them event objects.
• The event source sends out event objects to all registered listeners when that event occurs.
• The listener objects will then use the information in the event object to determine their reaction to the event.

Look at the image below to understand the relationship between event sources and listeners.

Below is how you will specify a listener to a component, say a Button.

ActionListener listener = . . .;
JButton button = new JButton("Ok");

Now the listener object is notified whenever an “action event” occurs in the button. For buttons, as you rightly guessed, an action event is a button click.

To implement the ActionListener interface, the listener class must have a method called actionPerformed that receives an ActionEvent object as a parameter.

class MyListener implements ActionListener
. . .
public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent event)
// code to handle button click goes here
. . .

Whenever the user clicks the button, the JButton object creates an ActionEvent object and calls listener.actionPerformed(event), passing that event object. An event source such as a button can have multiple listeners. In that case, the button calls the actionPerformed methods of all listeners whenever the user clicks the button.

You can understand the event notification system by looking at the image below:

A Working Example:

Let us wrap up this chapter by looking at a full fledged example.

Let us say we want to have 3 buttons in our screen and 3 different actions must happen when the user clicks on them. For simplicity lets have the screen filled with 3 different colors when the user clicks on each of them.

import java.awt.*;
import java.awt.event.*;
import javax.swing.*;

* @version 1.1 31-May-2011
* @author Anand Vijayakumar
public class TestButtonActions
public static void main(String[] args)
EventQueue.invokeLater(new Runnable()
public void run()
MyTestFrame frame = new MyTestFrame();

* A frame with a button panel
class MyTestFrame extends JFrame
public MyTestFrame()
setTitle("Button Action Test");

// create buttons
JButton redButton = new JButton("Red");
JButton blueButton = new JButton("Blue");
JButton greenButton = new JButton("Green");

buttonPanel = new JPanel();

// add buttons to panel

// add panel to frame

// create button actions
HandleActions greenAction = new HandleActions(Color.GREEN);
HandleActions blueAction = new HandleActions(Color.BLUE);
HandleActions redAction = new HandleActions(Color.RED);

// associate actions with buttons

* An action listener that sets the panel's background color.
private class HandleActions implements ActionListener
public HandleActions(Color c)
backgroundColor = c;

public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent event)

private Color backgroundColor;

private JPanel buttonPanel;

public static final int DEFAULT_WIDTH = 300;
public static final int DEFAULT_HEIGHT = 200;

If you compile and run this class your output will be like below:

On click of Red:

On click of Blue:

On click of Green:

Prev: Displaying Images

Next: Creating Listeners Containing a Single Method Call

Friday, May 27, 2011

Displaying Images

By now, you know how to create a frame, how to draw shapes, how to write out text and alter the fonts of the text. The last thing needed for us to start creating nice UI components, is our ability to display images. This is exactly what we are going to learn in this chapter.

So, lets get started!!!

Displaying Photos & Images:

Java Swings has a lot of nice features and one of them is the ability to display images on its components. You can select any image that is available in the local system or somewhere on the internet and display it on Graphics objects. As of Java SE 1.4, reading an image is very simple.

If the image is stored in a local file:

String filename = "...";
Image image = File(filename));

Otherwise, you can supply a URL:

String urlname = "...";
Image image = URL(urlname));

The read method throws an IOException if the image is not available.

Now the variable image contains a reference to an object that encapsulates the image data. You can display the image with the drawImage method of the Graphics class.

public void paintComponent(Graphics g)
. . .
g.drawImage(image, x, y, null);

Sometimes, you may want to tile an image across a components canvas if it is much smaller than the component size. We can do the tiling in the paintComponent method. We first draw one copy of the image in the top-left corner and then use the copyArea call to copy it into the entire window using the code below:

for (int i = 0; i * imageWidth <= getWidth(); i++) for (int j = 0; j * imageHeight <= getHeight(); j++) if (i + j > 0)
g.copyArea(0, 0, imageWidth, imageHeight, i * imageWidth, j * imageHeight);

Code Example:

Let us now take a look at a fully functional code example that displays as well as tiles an image.

Note: The image I am displaying is available in the My Pictures directory in my computer and you have to provide the correct path to any image that you wish to display. Otherwise only a blank frame will come up.

import java.awt.*;
import javax.imageio.*;
import javax.swing.*;

* @version 1.1 25-May-2011
* @author Anand Vijayakumar
public class DisplayImages
public static void main(String[] args)
EventQueue.invokeLater(new Runnable()
public void run()
MyImageFrame frame = new MyImageFrame();

* A frame with an image component
class MyImageFrame extends JFrame
public MyImageFrame()

// add component to frame

MyImageComponent component = new MyImageComponent();

public static final int DEFAULT_WIDTH = 500;
public static final int DEFAULT_HEIGHT = 500;

* A component that displays a tiled image
class MyImageComponent extends JComponent
public MyImageComponent()
// get the image
image = File("H:\\Personal\\My Pictures\\lillies.JPG"));
catch (IOException e)

public void paintComponent(Graphics g)
if (image == null) return;

int imageWidth = image.getWidth(this);
int imageHeight = image.getHeight(this);

// draw the image in the top-left corner
g.drawImage(image, 0, 0, null);

// tile the image across the component
for (int i = 0; i * imageWidth <= getWidth(); i++) for (int j = 0; j * imageHeight <= getHeight(); j++) if (i + j > 0) g.copyArea(0, 0, imageWidth, imageHeight, i * imageWidth, j
* imageHeight);

private Image image;

If you place the image in the right path and then execute this class you will get a screen like below:

Prev: Using Special Fonts

Next: Basics of Event Handling
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