3.  Persistence Context

3.1. Transaction Persistence Context
3.2. Extended Persistence Context

A persistence context is a set of entities such that for any persistent identity there is a unique entity instance. Within a persistence context, entities are managed. The EntityManager controls their lifecycle, and they can access datastore resources.

When a persistence context ends, previously-managed entities become detached. A detached entity is no longer under the control of the EntityManager, and no longer has access to datastore resources. We discuss detachment in detail in Section 2, “ Entity Lifecycle Management ”. For now, it is sufficient to know that detachment has two obvious consequences:

  1. The detached entity cannot load any additional persistent state.

  2. The EntityManager will not return the detached entity from find, nor will queries include the detached entity in their results. Instead, find method invocations and query executions that would normally incorporate the detached entity will create a new managed entity with the same identity.


OpenJPA offers several features related to detaching entities. See Section 1, “ Detach and Attach ” in the Reference Guide. Section 1.3, “ Defining the Detached Object Graph ” in particular describes how to use the DetachState setting to boost the performance of merging detached entities.

Injected EntityManagers have a transaction persistence context, while EntityManagers obtained through the EntityManagerFactory have an extended persistence context. We describe these persistence context types below.

3.1.  Transaction Persistence Context

Under the transaction persistence context model, an EntityManager begins a new persistence context with each transaction, and ends the context when the transaction commits or rolls back. Within the transaction, entities you retrieve through the EntityManager or via Queries are managed entities. They can access datastore resources to lazy-load additional persistent state as needed, and only one entity may exist for any persistent identity.

When the transaction completes, all entities lose their association with the EntityManager and become detached. Traversing a persistent field that wasn't already loaded now has undefined results. And using the EntityManager or a Query to retrieve additional objects may now create new instances with the same persistent identities as detached instances.

If you use an EntityManager with a transaction persistence context model outside of an active transaction, each method invocation creates a new persistence context, performs the method action, and ends the persistence context. For example, consider using the EntityManager.find method outside of a transaction. The EntityManager will create a temporary persistence context, perform the find operation, end the persistence context, and return the detached result object to you. A second call with the same id will return a second detached object.

When the next transaction begins, the EntityManager will begin a new persistence context, and will again start returning managed entities. As you'll see in Chapter 8, EntityManager , you can also merge the previously-detached entites back into the new persistence context.

Example 7.1.  Behavior of Transaction Persistence Context

The following code illustrates the behavior of entites under an EntityManager using a transaction persistence context.

EntityManager em; // injected

// outside a transaction:

// each operation occurs in a separate persistence context, and returns 
// a new detached instance
Magazine mag1 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
Magazine mag2 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag2 != mag1);

// transaction begins:

// within a transaction, a subsequent lookup doesn't return any of the
// detached objects.  however, two lookups within the same transaction
// return the same instance, because the persistence context spans the
// transaction
Magazine mag3 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag3 != mag1 && mag3 != mag2);
Magazine mag4 = em.find(Magazine.class (magId);
assertTrue(mag4 == mag3);

// transaction commits:

// once again, each operation returns a new instance
Magazine mag5 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag5 != mag3);

3.2.  Extended Persistence Context

An EntityManager using an extended persistence context maintains the same persistence context for its entire lifecycle. Whether inside a transaction or not, all entities returned from the EntityManager are managed, and the EntityManager never creates two entity instances to represent the same persistent identity. Entities only become detached when you finally close the EntityManager (or when they are serialized).

Example 7.2.  Behavior of Extended Persistence Context

The following code illustrates the behavior of entites under an EntityManager using an extended persistence context.

EntityManagerFactory emf = ...
EntityManager em = emf.createEntityManager();

// persistence context active for entire life of EM, so only one entity
// for a given persistent identity
Magazine mag1 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
Magazine mag2 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag2 == mag1);


// same persistence context active within the transaction
Magazine mag3 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag3 == mag1);
Magazine mag4 = em.find(Magazine.class (magId);
assertTrue(mag4 == mag1);

em.getTransaction.commit ();

// when the transaction commits, instance still managed
Magazine mag5 = em.find(Magazine.class, magId);
assertTrue(mag5 == mag1);

// instance finally becomes detached when EM closes