JSF and Transactioncontext

Today I want to talk about a detail in the JSF Framework, which is on the first view not obviously. In different to Spring, business logic placed in a JSF front-end controller (JSF Backing Beans) did not initializes a separate transaction context. Normally business logic which need to be transaction save should be spread out into EJBs. EJBs are the recommended place for business logic. So in JSF/EJB business logic should be put into stateless session EJBs and controlled the page flow of a web application through the so called front end controllers  – JSF Backing beans. As I mentioned before spring starts a transaction context also in front-end controllers, but jsf does not.

So what is the problem here? When you look at the following JSF example, you maybe will not recognize the problem at first:

//jsf bean...
@EJB ejb1;
public String process(businessobject) {

The JSF front-end controller method ‘process(businessobject)’ injects an EJB and calls two ejb methods. This will propaply work without any side effects. But it can produce errors in some cases. The problem in this pattern is that the front-end controller performed two apparently dependent business actions completely separately. If these two methods need to be transaction save but are operating on the same database entities this can result in serious problems. In a high concurrent system indeed this pattern can cause a corrupted DB state even if you thought JPA will solve all the transaction stuff for you.

The reason for the unexpected behavior is the missing wrapping transaction. Each ejb method starts it own transaction with all the transaction control provided by the ejb container. But the hole business method is not transaction save.

To solve this you have two possible solutions:

1) add a UserTranaction context to the front-end controller:

//jsf bean...
@Resource UserTransaction tx;
@EJB ejb1;
public String process(businessobject) {
 try {
 finaly {

In this example now the jsf controller starts itself the UserTransaction. As a result both EJB methods (with default transaction mode ‘mandatory’) run in the same transaction context. Even operations on the database in a high concurrent system will be transaction save.

2) Merge the EJB Methods into one transaction save business method

The second solution merges both ejb methods into a single EJB method call:

// JSF bean calls new ejb method...
public String process(Entity entity) {
 // ...

with the following ejb implementation:

// EJB
public void op1op2(Entity entity) {

Now the new ejb method is transaction save an there is no need to fiddle with UserTransaction in the jsf fornt-end controller.

The second solution is recommended because there is no more risk that the transaction context is split by the front-end. And you can reuse the new ejb method easily with now need to think about the transaction context scenarios.

Maybe this will help you solving some problems with jsf transaction context in the future.

JPA – EclipseLink – MySQL – @OneToMany

Today I was faced with a really strange problem concerning JPA, EclipseLink an MySQL. I have Service EJB (3.1) with some JPA Entity Beans. They are joined with @OneToMany constraints. I am deploying my application typically under GlassFish 3.1 with MySQL Database. Everything works fine so far. But in some really strange cases – long complex transactions with a lot of updates and inserts I got a JPA Exception like this:

[#|2014-09-25T17:21:01.989+0200|WARNING|glassfish3.1.2|org.eclipse.persistence.session.file:/opt/glassfish-3.1.2/glassfish/domains/domain2/applications/office/office-ejb-1.0.0_jar/_org.imixs.workflow.jee.jpa|_ThreadID=160;_ThreadName=Thread-2;|Local Exception Stack: 
Exception [EclipseLink-4002] (Eclipse Persistence Services - 2.3.2.v20111125-r10461): org.eclipse.persistence.exceptions.DatabaseException
Internal Exception: com.mysql.jdbc.exceptions.jdbc4.MySQLIntegrityConstraintViolationException: Cannot delete or update a parent row: a foreign key constraint fails (`mydatabase`.`ENTITY_WRITEACCESS`, CONSTRAINT `FK_ENTITY_WRITEACCESS_writeAccessList_ID` FOREIGN KEY (`writeAccessList_ID`) REFERENCES `WRITEACCESS` (`ID`))
Error Code: 1451
    bind => [1 parameter bound]
Query: DeleteObjectQuery(org.imixs.workflow.jee.jpa.WriteAccess@5aa4670a)

I was confronted with such error messages in the past and solved them by changing the transaction boundaries in my code by encapsulating some of the jpa stuff in separate methods with new transaction context.

But The real reason for this kind of error is an inaccurate mapping of the database schema in MySQL made by EclipseLink. My table ‘ENTITY_WRITEACCESS’ is a crosstable needed for a @OneToMany relationship of my JPA entity beans.  I never looked at the schema in detail, because in my opinion that is stuff of the OR-Mapper.
The problem was that per default no CascadeType is defined for a @OneToMany relationship. But even when you define a CascadeType like CascadeType.DELETE – which is also implied by CascadeType.ALL – to your entity beans this will not necessarily be reflected to the database schema generated from the OR-Mapper. When you look at the generated schema you’ll notice that ON DELETE CASCADE is not added to the constraint. When you alter your schema and Add ON DELETE CASCADE to actual tables this will fix the problem above.

Note that this all depends on the JPA implementors how the constrains are created. So take a look at your generated table schemas.

GlassFish – EJB timer service not available

Today I had a situation where after a hardware crash my GlassFish Server did not work correctly. Specially the timer service did no longer work. The server log shows a lot of errors about

...EJB Timer Service not available

In the easiest case the reason why the timer service did not start are old db.lck files.

You can check this by stopping the server and then look for any lock files in the domain folder


After removing the files


you can restart the server and every thing should work again.

See also the following thread if this did not work for you: