Spring Transaction Management

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A database transaction is a sequence of actions that are treated as a single unit of work. These actions should either complete entirely or take no effect at all. Transaction management is an important part of and RDBMS oriented enterprise applications to ensure data integrity and consistency. The concept of transactions can be described with following four key properties described as ACID:

  1. Atomicity: A transaction should be treated as a single unit of operation which means either the entire sequence of operations is successful or unsuccessful.

  2. Consistency: This represents the consistency of the referential integrity of the database, unique primary keys in tables etc.

  3. Isolation: There may be many transactions processing with the same data set at the same time, each transaction should be isolated from others to prevent data corruption.

  4. Durability: Once a transaction has completed, the results of this transaction have to be made permanent and cannot be erased from the database due to system failure.

A real RDBMS database system will guarantee all the four properties for each transaction. The simplistic view of a transaction issued to the database using SQL is as follows:

  • Begin the transaction using begin transaction command.

  • Perform various deleted, update or insert operations using SQL queries.

  • If all the operation are successful then perform commit otherwise rollback all the operations.

Spring framework provides an abstract layer on top of different underlying transaction management APIs. The Spring's transaction support aims to provide an alternative to EJB transactions by adding transaction capabilities to POJOs. Spring supports both programmatic and declarative transaction management. EJBs requires an application server, but Spring transaction management can be implemented without a need of application server.

Local vs. Global Transactions

Local transactions are specific to a single transactional resource like a JDBC connection, whereas global transactions can span multiple transactional resources like transaction in a distributed system.

Local transaction management can be useful in a centralized computing environment where application components and resources are located at a single site, and transaction management only involves a local data manager running on a single machine. Local transactions are easier to be implemented.

Global transaction management is required in a distributed computing environment where all the resources are distributed across multiple systems. In such a case transaction management needs to be done both at local and global levels. A distributed or a global transaction is executed across multiple systems, and its execution requires coordination between the global transaction management system and all the local data managers of all the involved systems.

Programmatic vs. Declarative

Spring supports two types of transaction management:

  1. Programmatic transaction management: This means that you have manage the transaction with the help of programming. That gives you extreme flexibility, but it is difficult to maintain.

  2. Declarative transaction management: This means you separate transaction management from the business code. You only use annotations or XML based configuration to manage the transactions.

Declarative transaction management is preferable over programmatic transaction management though it is less flexible than programmatic transaction management, which allows you to control transactions through your code. But as a kind of crosscutting concern, declarative transaction management can be modularized with the AOP approach. Spring supports declarative transaction management through the Spring AOP framework.

Spring Transaction Abstractions

The key to the Spring transaction abstraction is defined by the org.springframework.transaction.PlatformTransactionManager interface, which is as follows:

public interface PlatformTransactionManager {
   TransactionStatus getTransaction(TransactionDefinition definition);
   throws TransactionException;
   void commit(TransactionStatus status) throws TransactionException;
   void rollback(TransactionStatus status) throws TransactionException;
}
S.N.Method & Description
1TransactionStatus getTransaction(TransactionDefinition definition)
This method returns a currently active transaction or create a new one, according to the specified propagation behavior.
2void commit(TransactionStatus status)
This method commits the given transaction, with regard to its status.
3void rollback(TransactionStatus status)
This method performs a rollback of the given transaction.

The TransactionDefinition is the core interface of the transaction support in Spring and it is defined as below:

public interface TransactionDefinition {
   int getPropagationBehavior();
   int getIsolationLevel();
   String getName();
   int getTimeout();
   boolean isReadOnly();
}
S.N.Method & Description
1int getPropagationBehavior()
This method returns the propagation behavior. Spring offers all of the transaction propagation options familiar from EJB CMT.
2int getIsolationLevel()
This method returns the degree to which this transaction is isolated from the work of other transactions.
3String getName()
This method returns the name of this transaction.
4int getTimeout()
This method returns the time in seconds in which the transaction must complete.
5boolean isReadOnly()
This method returns whether the transaction is read-only.

Following are the possible values for isolation level:

S.N.Isolation & Description
1TransactionDefinition.ISOLATION_DEFAULT
This is the default isolation level.
2TransactionDefinition.ISOLATION_READ_COMMITTED
Indicates that dirty reads are prevented; non-repeatable reads and phantom reads can occur.
3TransactionDefinition.ISOLATION_READ_UNCOMMITTED
Indicates that dirty reads, non-repeatable reads and phantom reads can occur.
4TransactionDefinition.ISOLATION_REPEATABLE_READ
Indicates that dirty reads and non-repeatable reads are prevented; phantom reads can occur.
5TransactionDefinition.ISOLATION_SERIALIZABLE
Indicates that dirty reads, non-repeatable reads and phantom reads are prevented.

Following are the possible values for propagation types:

S.N.Propagation & Description
1TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_MANDATORY
Support a current transaction; throw an exception if no current transaction exists.
2TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_NESTED
Execute within a nested transaction if a current transaction exists.
3TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_NEVER
Do not support a current transaction; throw an exception if a current transaction exists.
4TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_NOT_SUPPORTED
Do not support a current transaction; rather always execute non-transactionally.
5TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_REQUIRED
Support a current transaction; create a new one if none exists.
6TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_REQUIRES_NEW
Create a new transaction, suspending the current transaction if one exists.
7TransactionDefinition.PROPAGATION_SUPPORTS
Support a current transaction; execute non-transactionally if none exists.
8TransactionDefinition.TIMEOUT_DEFAULT
Use the default timeout of the underlying transaction system, or none if timeouts are not supported.

The TransactionStatus interface provides a simple way for transactional code to control transaction execution and query transaction status.

public interface TransactionStatus extends SavepointManager {
   boolean isNewTransaction();
   boolean hasSavepoint();
   void setRollbackOnly();
   boolean isRollbackOnly();
   boolean isCompleted();
}
S.N.Method & Description
1boolean hasSavepoint()
This method returns whether this transaction internally carries a savepoint, that is, has been created as nested transaction based on a savepoint.
2boolean isCompleted()
This method returns whether this transaction is completed, that is, whether it has already been committed or rolled back.
3boolean isNewTransaction()
This method returns true in case the present transaction is new.
4boolean isRollbackOnly()
This method returns whether the transaction has been marked as rollback-only.
5void setRollbackOnly()
This method sets the transaction rollback-only.


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