How should complex find operations be implemented?

Richard Monson-Haefel

In bean-managed persistence (BMP) complex find operations are not difficult to implement, because you have complete control over how a find operation works through the ejbFind methods in the bean class. ejbFind methods in BMP entities can span multiple tables and even different data sources to locate the right entity beans.

With container-managed persistence (CMP) its more difficult because you are dependent on the versatility of the EJB vendor. In other words, if the vendor does not support sophisticated find operations or syntax, its more difficult to declare complex find operations at deployment time. With CMP you have a couple options:

  • Convert the CMP bean to a BMP bean and hand code the ejbFind methods yourself. This is a classic scenario for using BMP over CMP; when the EJB vendor is not sophisticated enough to support a bean's data access needs.
  • Use a session bean to obtain the data you need. When a search operation becomes to complex to implement in a single bean its a good indication that the search operation is not appropriate for a find method. Search operations that span the data encapsulated by several different entity beans should be placed in a session bean with the emphasis on returning only the data needed, not necessarily bean references. Data can be returned in tabular format instead of bean references.

A common design error is to implement search operations that filter results of multi-entity find requests implemented by other entity beans. This should be avoided. If you can not find the entity beans in one find request, then you should use a search method in a session bean.