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While it's common to use the Java Transaction API and the XA protocol for distributed transactions in Spring, you do have other options. The optimum implementation depends on the types of resources your application uses and the trade-offs you're willing to make between performance, safety, reliability, and data integrity. In this JavaWorld feature, SpringSource's David Syer guides you through seven patterns for distributed transactions in Spring applications, three of them with XA and four without. Level: Intermediate
The Spring Framework's support for the Java Transaction API (JTA) enables applications to use distributed transactions and the XA protocol without running in a Java EE container. Even with this support, however, XA is expensive and can be unreliable or cumbersome to administrate. It may come as a welcome surprise, then, that a certain class of applications can avoid the use of XA altogether.
To help you understand the considerations involved in various approaches to distributed transactions, I'll analyze seven transaction-processing patterns, providing code samples to make them concrete. I'll present the patterns in reverse order of safety or reliability, starting with those with the highest guarantee of data integrity and atomicity under the most general circumstances. As you move down the list, more caveats and limitations will apply. The patterns are also roughly in reverse order of runtime cost (starting with the most expensive). The patterns are all architectural, or technical, as opposed to business patterns, so I don't focus on the business use case, only on the minimal amount of code to see each pattern working.
Note that only the first three patterns involve XA, and those might not be available or acceptable on performance grounds. I don't discuss the XA patterns as extensively as the others because they are covered elsewhere, though I do provide a simple demonstration of the first one. By reading this article you'll learn what you can and can't do with distributed transactions and how and when to avoid the use of XA -- and when not to.
A distributed transaction is one that involves more than one transactional resource. Examples of transactional resources are the connectors for communicating
with relational databases and messaging middleware. Often such a resource has an API that looks something like
commit(). In the Java world, a transactional resource usually shows up as the product of a factory provided by the underlying platform:
for a database, it's a
Connection (produced by
DataSource) or Java Persistence API (JPA)
EntityManager; for Java Message Service (JMS), it's a
In a typical example, a JMS message triggers a database update. Broken down into a timeline, a successful interaction goes something like this:
If a database error such as a constraint violation occurred on the update, the desirable sequence would look like this:
javax.transactionfrom the Java docs for JTA and