JPA in the XPages Jakarta EE Project

Mar 18, 2023, 11:55 AM

For a little while now, I'd had an issue open to implement Jakarta Persistence (JPA) in the project.

JPA is the long-standing API for working with relational-database data in JEE and is one of the bedrocks of the platform, used by presumably most normal apps. That said, it's been a pretty low priority here, since the desire to write applications based on a SQL database but running on Domino could be charitably described as "specialized". Still, the spec has been staring me in the face, maybe it'd be useful, and I could pull a neat trick with it.

The Neat Trick

When possible, I like to make the XPages JEE project act as a friendly participant in the underlying stack, building on good use of the ComponentModule system, the existing app lifecycle, and so forth. This is another one of those areas: XPages (re-)gained support for relational data over a decade ago and I could use this.

Tucked away in the slide deck that ships with the old ExtLib is this tidbit:

Screenshot of a slide, highlighting 'Available using JNDI'

JNDI is a common, albeit creaky, mechanism used by app servers to provide resources to apps running on them. If you've done LDAP from Java, you've probably run into it via InitialContext and whatnot, but it's used for all sorts of things, DB connections included. What this meant is that I could piggyback on the existing mechanism, including its connection pooling. Given its age and lack of attention, I imagine that it's not necessarily the absolute best option, but it has the advantage of being built in to the platform, limiting the work I'd need to do and the scope of bugs I'd be responsible for.


With one piece of the puzzle taken care for me, my next step was to actually get a JPA implementation working. The big, go-to name in this area is Hibernate (which, incidentally, I remember Toby Samples getting running in XPages long ago). However, it looks like Hibernate kind of skipped over the Jakarta EE 9 target with its official releases: the 5.x series uses the javax.persistence namespace, while the 6.x series uses jakarta.persistence but requires Java 11, matching Jakarta EE 10. Until Domino updates its creaky JVM, I can't use that.

Fortunately, while I might be able to transform it, Hibernate isn't the only game in town. There's also EclipseLink, another well-established implementation that has the benefits of having an official release series targeting JEE 9 and also using a preferable license.

And actually, there's not much more to add on that front. Other than writing a library to provide it to the NSF and a resolver to account for OSGi's separation, I didn't have to write a lot of code.

Most of what I did write was the necessary code and configuration for normal JPA use. There's a persistence.xml file in the normal format (referencing the source made by the XPages JDBC config file), a model class, and then access using the normal API.

In a normal full app server, the container would take care of some of the dirty work done by the REST resource there, and that's something I'm considering for the future, but this will do for now.

Writing Tests

One of the neat side effects is that, when I went to write the test case for this, I got to make better use of Testcontainers. I'm a huge fan of Testcontainers and I've used it for a good while for my IT suites, but I've always lost a bit by not getting to use the scaffolding it provides for common open-source projects. Now, though, I could add a PostgreSQL container alongside the Domino one:

postgres = new PostgreSQLContainer<>("postgres:15.2")

Here, I configure a basic Postgres container, and the wrapper class provides methods to specify the extremely-secure username and password to use, as well as the default database name. Here, I pass it a network object that lets it share the same container network space as the Domino server, which will then be able to refer to it via TCP/IP as the bare name "postgresql".

The remaining task was to write a method in the test suite to make sure the table exists. You can do this in other ways - Testcontainers lets you run init scripts via URL, for example - but for one table this suits me well. In the test class where I want to access the REST service I wrote, I made a @BeforeAll method to create the table:

public static void createTable() throws SQLException {
	PostgreSQLContainer<?> container = JakartaTestContainers.instance.postgres;
	try(Connection conn = container.createConnection(""); Statement stmt = conn.createStatement()) {
		stmt.executeUpdate("CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS public.companies (\n"
				+ "	name character varying(255) NOT NULL\n"
				+ ");");

Testcontainers takes care of some of the dirty work of figuring out and initializing the JDBC connection for me. That's not particularly-onerous work, but it's one of the small benefits you get when you're doing the same sort of thing other users of the tool are doing.

With that, everything went swimmingly. Domino saw the Postgres container (thanks to copying the JDBC driver to the classpath) and the JPA access worked just the same as it does in my real environment.

Like with the implementation, there's not much there beyond "yep, do the things the docs say and it works". Though there were the usual hurdles that I've gotten used to with adding things like this to Domino, this all went pleasantly smoothly. I may build on this in the future - such as the aforementioned server-managed JPA bits - but that will depend on whether I or others have need. Regardless, I'm glad it's in there.

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