JPA Demo for Java SE and (embedded) Derby DB


While persistent data can be handled in any number of ways, using a relational database is common.  Java provides JDBC for low-level access to a DBMS, allowing the use of SQL.  This works (if you are good at SQL and configuring various DBMSes), but has a drawback with Java: the results of queries is a table (actually, a ResultSet of raw SQL data).  To process effectively in Java, this data must be read one field at a time, for each row, and objects constructed and added to a collection.  This is because Java works best with collections of objects.

More recent versions of Java include the Java Persistence API, or “JPA”.  This includes a much simpler (and more Java-ish) way to access databases, and includes its own query language.  Long available in Java EE, JPA is now available in Java SE.  However, while Java servers generally include an implementation of JPA, neither Java SE JRE or the Oracle JDK implement the classes required.  (The JDK does include the Apache Derby RDBMS.)

To use JPA with Java SE, you must configure an implementation of JPA.  Initially known as “TopLink”, the reference implementation is the open source “EclipseLink”.  To use JPA, download the EclipseLink zip archive from and unpack it someplace, say C:\Java\eclipselink.  Next, create an environment variable named ECLIPSELINK_HOME with the location of the eclipselink folder.  Finally, you must make sure both eclipselink.jar and javax.persistence_version.jar are found in the CLASSPATH.  (Look in ECLIPSELINK_HOME\jlib and ECLIPSELINK_HOME\jlib\jpa for these two Jars.)

Note: You don't need both javax.persistence_version.jar and javaee-api-version.jar; either one provides the javax.persistence.* classes required.

EclipseLink internally used log4j for logging (even though the documentation says it doesn't), thru version 2.6.  In the persistence.xml JPA configuration file, logging is disabled for this demo.  However, log4j still launches, finds it isn't configured correctly, and displays annoying error messages.  To prevent this, the file is used with the simple directive to disable logging.  (This does not seem to be a problem in a version 2.7, and you can safely delete the file.)

This demo uses the Apache Derby database.  For simplicity, the demo uses an embedded database so you don't have to set up any server.  The downside of using embedded databases is that it becomes difficult to bundle your application in a Jar file.  This is because any read-write database must be outside of that jar file, which requires extra careful configuration, and permission to create files and folders on the user's hard disk.

To run this demo, extract the folder JPAdemo from  (Or, save the individual files shown below, preserving the folder structure as shown.)  Then you can compile and run it, like so:

C:\Temp>cd JPAdemo
C:\Temp\JPADemo>javac com\wpollock\jpademo\

C:\Temp\JPADemo>java com.wpollock.jpademo.Main
Titles of books in our collection:
ID: 1, Title: Underwater Basket-Weaving for Dummies
ID: 2, Title: Brain Surgery: Self-Taught

Number of books: 2

(This is easier using some IDE or a build tool such as Maven.  But all the demos I can find online do that, so I wanted to show the basic way using nothing but the JDK and EclipseLink.)

The two graphics links below show the resulting database table (screen-shots from SquirrelSQL).

Database Contents

Database Schema

Top-Level Directory: JPADemo

Directory: META-INF

Directory: com