Hibernate hard facts - Part 6

In this article, I will show you how to use the fetch profile feature introduced in Hibernate 3.5.

This is the 6th post in the Hibernate hard facts focus series.Other posts include:

  1. Hibernate hard facts part 1
  2. Hibernate hard facts part 2
  3. Hibernate hard facts part 3
  4. Hibernate hard facts - Part 4
  5. Hibernate hard facts – Part 5
  6. Hibernate hard facts - Part 6 (this post)
  7. Hibernate hard facts – Part 7

Lazy loading is a core feature in Hibernate: it saves memory space. The reasoning behind it is, if you don’t use an association, you don’t need the object and thus, Hibernate does not load it into memory. Hibernate fills the lazy loaded attribute with a proxy that makes the SQL request when the getter is called. By default, Hibernate makes all one-to-many and man-to-many associations lazy by default.

This is all well and good but  in some use-cases, the associations are needed. Two things may happen from here:

  • either the session is still open and you make one more call to the database (and if done all the time, will cause performance problems),
  • or the session is closed and you will get the infamous LazyInitializationException. This one is a favorite of many fresh Hibernate developers.

In order to mitigate these, Hibernate propose a fetch strategy that works not on the mapping level, but on the request level. Thus, you can still have lazy loading mappings but eager fetching in some cases. This strategy is available both in the Criteria API (criteria.setFetchMode()) and HQL ("FETCH JOIN").

Before Hibernate 3.5, however, you were stuck with setting the fetch mode of an association with each request. If you had a bunch of requests that needed an eager association, flagging the association as "join" each time was not only a waste of time but also a source of potential errors.

Hibernate 3.5 introduced the notion of fetch profiles: a fetch profile is a placeholder where you configure fetch mode for specific associations.

Each fetch profile has a name and an array of fetch overrrides. Fetch overrides do override the mapping association type. In the following example, all customer.getAccounts() class will be eager when activating the EAGER-ACCOUNTS profile.

  name = "EAGER-ACCOUNTS",
  fetchOverrides = @FetchOverride(entity = Customer.class, association = "accounts", mode = FetchMode.JOIN))

Then, enabling the profile for a session is a no-brainer.


Granted, it’s not much, but you can gain much time with this feature. This example is very simple but you can have many fetch overrides under one profile (this may even be a good practice).

Nicolas Fränkel

Nicolas Fränkel

Developer Advocate with 15+ years experience consulting for many different customers, in a wide range of contexts (such as telecoms, banking, insurances, large retail and public sector). Usually working on Java/Java EE and Spring technologies, but with focused interests like Rich Internet Applications, Testing, CI/CD and DevOps. Also double as a trainer and triples as a book author.

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Hibernate hard facts - Part 6
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