5.5 Reflexive Associations


It's also possible for objects and tables to have associations back to themselves . This supports persistent recursive data structures like trees, in which nodes link to other nodes. Tracing through a database table storing such relationships using a SQL query interface is a major chore. Luckily, once it's mapped to Java objects, the process is much more readable and natural.

One way we might use a reflexive link in our music database is to allow alternate names for artists . This is useful more often than you might expect, because it makes it very easy to let the user find either 'The Smiths' or 'Smiths, The' depending on how they're thinking of the group , with little code, and in a language-independent way.


I mean human language here, English versus Spanish or something else. Put the links in the data rather than trying to write tricky code to guess when an artist name should be permuted.

5.5.1 How do I do that?

All that's needed is to add another field to the Artist mapping in Artist.hbm.xml , establishing a link back to Artist . Example 5-13 shows one option.

Example 5-13. Supporting a reflexive association in the Artist class
 <many-to-one name="actualArtist" class="com.oreilly.hh.Artist">   <meta attribute="use-in-tostring">true</meta> </many-to-one> 

This gives us an actualArtist property that we can set to the id of the 'definitive' Artist record when we're setting up an alternate name. For example, our 'The Smiths' record might have id 5 , and its actualArtist field would be null since it is definitive. Then we can create an 'alias' Artist record with the name 'Smiths, The' at any time, and set the actualArtist field in that record to point to record 5 .

This kind of reflexive link is one instance where a column containing a foreign key can't be named the same as the key column to which it is a link. We are associating a row in ARTIST with another row in ARTIST , and of course the table already has a column named ARTIST_ID .

Why is this association set up as many-to-one? There might be many alias records that point to one particular definitive Artist . So each nickname needs to store the id of the actual artist record for which it is an alternative name. This is, in the language of data modeling, a many-to-one relationship.

Code that looks up artists just needs to check the actualArtist property before returning. If it's null , all is well. Otherwise it should return the record indicated by actualArtist . Example 5-14 shows how we could extend the getArtist() method in CreateTest to support this new feature (additions are in bold). Notice that the Artist constructor gets a new argument for setting actualArtist .

Example 5-14. Artist lookup method supporting resolution of alternate names
 public static Artist getArtist(String name, boolean create,                                Session session)     throws HibernateException {     Query query = session.getNamedQuery(                       "com.oreilly.hh.artistByName");     query.setString("name", name);     Artist found = (Artist)query.uniqueResult();     if (found == null && create) {         found = new Artist(name,  null  , new HashSet());         session.save(found);     }  if (found != null && found.getActualArtist() != null) {         return found.getActualArtist();     }  return found; } 

Hopefully this chapter has given you a feel for the rich and powerful ways you can use associations and collections in Hibernate. As should be obvious from the way you can nest and combine these capabilities, there are far more variations than we can hope to cover in a book like this.

The good news is that Hibernate seems well equipped to handle almost any kind of relationship your application might need, and it can even do the drudge work of building the data classes and database schema for you. This works much more effectively and deeply than I ever expected it would when I started creating these examples.

Hibernate. A Developer's Notebook
Hibernate: A Developers Notebook
ISBN: 0596006969
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 65
Authors: James Elliott

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