Sunday, September 19, 2010

Database access made simple with Spring

In "The promise of spring" I talked about some of the benefits of Spring, one of which is the simplification of the usage of JDBC.

Typical JDBC programming requires the programmer to write repeatedly the same code for basic things like loading the JDBC driver, getting a connection, closing a connection. After getting a connection, one has to create a PreparedStatement to execute the SQL. The PreparedStatement may return a ResultSet, over which the programmer needs to iterate to extract the data.

Spring addresses the above the issues as follows:

1. The cornerstone of the Spring framework is dependency injection. With Spring, the connection information such as driver, connection URL can be defined as metadata and a datasource object injected into the application. This frees the programmer from the burden of writting code to manage connections.

2. Spring provides a class JdbcTemplate that abstracts away the repetetive code involving Statements and ResultSets.

3. Lastly Spring maps JDBC checked exceptions to a runtime exception hierarchy. This helps to unclutter application code because the code no longer needs to be cluttered with database specific try catch logic.

Let us see how this works with a sample. Let us write a DAO (data access object) to insert and retrieve information from a database. Before you proceed any further, you can download the complete source code from  In the blog below, for brevity, I show only code snippets. To run the sample, you will also need Spring 3.0, which you can download from Spring 3.0.x.

Step 1. For a database, I am going to use Apache Derby. We are going to store and retrieve user information as is typically required in any application. The schema is
create table puma_members ( 

  firstname  varchar(20), 
  lastname   varchar(30) not null, 
  street     varchar(40), 
  city       varchar(15), 
  zip        varchar(6), 
  email      varchar(30) not null primary key, 
  password   varchar(8) 

) ;
To download derby and for help on creating a database and table , see Derby documentation

Step 2. The DAO interface to access this table is
public interface MemberDAO {

    public int insertMember(Member m) ;
    public int deleteMember(String email) ;
    public Member getMember(String email) ;
Member is a class that has get and set methods for every column in puma_members. For brevity, the code is not shown here.

Step 3. The class MemberSpringJDBCDAO shall provide an implementation for MemberDAO using Spring JDBC.

The heavylifting in this class is done by an instance of org.springframework.jdbc.core.JdbcTemplate. However we don'nt need to instantiate it explicitly.We will let Spring create an instance and inject it into this class.

To help Spring, we however need to provide getter/setter method for JdbcTemplate.

So the class needs a private variable to hold the jdbcTemplate and setter/getter methods that Spring can call to set its value.
private JdbcTemplate jdbcTemplate ;
public JdbcTemplate getJdbcTemplate() {
    return jdbcTemplate ;
public void setJdbcTemplate(JdbcTemplate template) {
    jdbcTemplate = template ;
This is a form of dependency injection called setter injection. Spring calls the setJdbcTemplate method to provide our class with an instance of JdbcTemplate.

Step 4. How do we tell Spring we need a JdbcTemplate ? And how does Spring know what database driver to load and what database to connect to ?
All the bean definitions are in springjdbcdao.xml.The main bean memberdao has a property that references a jdbcTemplate.
<bean class="com.mj.spring.jdbc.MemberSpringJDBCDAO" id="memberdao">
    <property name="jdbcTemplate">
       <ref bean="jdbcTemplate"></ref>

<bean class="org.springframework.jdbc.core.JdbcTemplate" id="jdbcTemplate">
        <ref bean="dataSource"></ref>
The jdbcTemplate bean has as it implementation org.springframework.jdbc.core.JdbcTemplate which is the class we are interested in. It references another bean dataSource , which has all the necessary jdbc configuration.
<bean id="dataSource"
    <property name="driverClassName" value="org.apache.derby.jdbc.EmbeddedDriver"/>
    <property name="url" 
This configuration has all the information necessary for Spring to create a JdbcTemplate with a dataSource and inject it into memberDAO.

Step 5. JdbcTemplate has a number of helper methods to execute SQL commands that make implementing MemberDAO methods easy.
private static final String insert_sql = "INSERT into puma_members VALUES(?,?,?,?,?,?,?)" ;
private static final String select_sql = "Select * from puma_members where email = ?" ;
public int insertMember(Member member) {
    JdbcTemplate jt = getJdbcTemplate() ;
    Object[] params = new Object[] {member.getFirstname(),member.getLastname(),
                           member.getEmail(),member.getPassword()} ;
    int ret = jt.update(insert_sql, params) ;
    return ret ;
public Member getMember(String email) {
    JdbcTemplate jt = getJdbcTemplate() ;
    Object[] params = new Object[] {email} ;
    List result = jt.query(select_sql,params, new MemberRowMapper()) ;
    Member member = (Member)result.get(0) ;
    return member;
private class MemberRowMapper implements RowMapper {
    public Object mapRow(ResultSet rs, int arg1) throws SQLException {
        Member member = new Member(rs.getString("firstname"), rs.getString("lastname"), 
                                   rs.getString("street"), rs.getString("city"), rs.getString("zip"),
                                   rs.getString("email"), rs.getString("password"));
        return member ;
In insertMember, the update method of JdbcTemplate takes 2 parameters, the SQL insert statement and an array that contains the data to be inserted. In getMember, the query method takes an additional parameter, a class that implements the RowMapper interface, and this maps the JDBC resultSet to the object we want, which is an instance of Member. The Spring javadocs very clearly state that JdbcTemplate is star of the Spring JDBC package. It has several variations of query, update, execute methods. Too many,one might think.

Step 6. The class MemberSpringJDBCDAOTest has the junit tests that test MemberSPringJDBCDAO. A Snippet is below
public void insertMember() {
    ApplicationContext context = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext(
    BeanFactory factory = (BeanFactory) context;
    MemberSpringJDBCDAO mDAO=(MemberSpringJDBCDAO) factory.getBean("memberdao");
    Member newMember = new Member("John","Doe","2121 FirstStreet","Doecity",
                                   "42345","","jondoe") ;
    int ret = mDAO.insertMember(newMember) ;
This is typical Spring client code. First we create a BeanFactory and load the metadata in springjdbcdao.xml. Then we request the factory to create a memberDAO. Insert a record into the database by calling the insertMember method.

Clearly the code is a lot simpler than if you implemented MemberDAO in plain JDBC. If you are new to Spring and are intimated with buzz words like inversion of control (IOC), then using Spring for database access is a good way to start benefiting from Spring while learning to use it. Note the loose coupling between the interface MemberDAO and its implementation. The loose coupling is good design and a reason for the popularity of frameworks like Spring. In future blogs, I will implement MemberDAO using other persistence APIs like JPA and may be Hibernate and show how the implementation can be switched without having to change client code.