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When is it necessary or convenient to use Spring or EJB3 or all of them together?- Stack Overflow

Java PingBook 2 weeks ago (10-30) 12 0


I’m a little confused by the mixed use of JSF2+Spring+EJB3 or any combination of those. I know one of the Spring principal characteristics is dependency injection, but with JSF managed beans I can use @ManagedBean and @ManagedProperty anotations and I get dependency injection functionality. With EJB3 I’m even more confused about when to use it along with JSF or if there is even a reason to use it.

So, in what kind of situation would it be a good idea to use Spring+JSF2 or EJB3+JSF2?

Until now I have created just some small web applications using only JSF2 and never needed to use Spring or EJB3. However, I’m seeing in a lot of places that people are working with all this stuff together.


First of all, Spring and EJB(+JTA) are competing technologies and usually not to be used together in the same application. Choose the one or the other. Spring or EJB(+JTA). I won’t tell you which to choose, I will only tell you a bit of history and the facts so that you can easier make the decision.

Main problem they’re trying to solve is providing a business service layer API with automatic transaction management. Imagine that you need to fire multiple SQL queries to perform a single business task (e.g. placing an order), and one of them failed, then you would of course like that everything is rolled back, so that the DB is kept in the same state as it was before, as if completely nothing happened. If you didn’t make use of transactions, then the DB would be left in an invalid state because the first bunch of the queries actually succeeded.

If you’re familiar with basic JDBC, then you should know that this can be achieved by turning off autocommit on the connection, then firing those queries in sequence, then performing commit() in the very same try in whose catch (SQLException) a rollback() is performed. This is however quite tedious to implement everytime.

With Spring and EJB(+JTA), a single (stateless) business service method call counts by default transparently as a single full transaction. This way you don’t need to worry about transaction management at all. You do not need to manually create EntityManagerFactory, nor explicitly call em.getTransaction().begin() and such as you would do when you’re tight-coupling business service logic into a JSF backing bean class and/or are using RESOURCE_LOCAL instead of JTA in JPA. You could for example have just the following EJB class utilizing JPA:

public class OrderService {

private EntityManager em;

private ProductService productService;

public void placeOrder(Order newOrder) {
for (Product orderedproduct : newOrder.getProducts()) {



If you have a @EJB private OrderService orderService; in your JSF backing bean and invoke the orderService.placeOrder(newOrder); in the action method, then a single full transaction will be performed. If for example one of the updateQuantity() calls or the persist() call failed with an exception, then it will rollback any so far executed updateQuantity() calls, and leave the DB in a clean and crisp state. Of course, you could catch that exception in your JSF backing bean and display a faces message or so.

Noted should be that “Spring” is a quite large framework which not only competes EJB, but also CDI and JPA. Previously, during the dark J2EE ages, when EJB 2.x was extremely terrible to implement (the above EJB 3.x OrderService example would in EJB 2.x require at least 5 times more code and some XML code). Spring offered a much better alternative which required less Java code (but still many XML code). J2EE/EJB2 learned the lessons from Spring and came with Java EE 5 which offers new EJB3 API which is even more slick than Spring and required no XML at all.

Spring also offers IoC/DI (inversion of control; dependency injection) out the box. This was during the J2EE era configured by XML which can go quite overboard. Nowadays Spring also uses annotations, but still some XML is required. Since Java EE 6, after having learned the lessons from Spring, CDI is offered out the box to provide the same DI functionality, but then without any need for XML. With Spring DI @Component/@Autowired and CDI @Named/@Inject you can achieve the same as JSF does with @ManagedBean/@ManagedProperty, but Spring DI and CDI offers many more advantages around it: you can for example write interceptors to pre-process or post-process managed bean creation/destroy or a managed bean method call, you can create custom scopes, producers and consumers, you can inject an instance of narrower scope in an instance of broader scope, etc.

Spring also offers MVC which essentially competes JSF. It makes no sense to mix JSF with Spring MVC. Further Spring also offers Data which is essentially an extra abstraction layer over JPA, further minimizing DAO boilerplate (but which essentially doesn’t represent the business service layer as whole).

See also:

What exactly is Java EE?
JSF Controller, Service and DAO
@Stateless beans versus @Stateful beans

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