I just read this article about the Google Web Toolkit and hibernate, and I’m thrilled that someone wrote this. A few years ago, when I was just starting to use GWT and hibernate, the ORM tool, I thought about writing something similar myself. I could never get over the hump of writing about setting up all the infrastructure necessary, something which the author does quite nicely.
I especially enjoyed the explanations of how to use some of the tools, to make mapping between GWT capable objects and hibernate objects easier. I’d heard of hibernate4gwt, now Gilead, but never used it. For most of my RPC calls, I end up using the first approach the author explores, custom DTO creation. Often times, I won’t create a special DTO object, but rather reuse the POJO that represents the domain object. This way, you can scrub subsidiary objects (though you lose lazy loading when you do this) and send those down as well. As long as the POJO doesn’t have too many extraneous members, this seems to work fine, and removes the need for an extra class.
I was a bit frustrated, however, that the author ignored the delete case. This seems like a situation where tools like Gilead might really shine. I have often run into issues where I have to add a ‘deleted’ boolean flag to the hibernate object. I do this because when an object gets deleted from a collection on the GWT side, my server-side code has no way of knowing this, without some additional complexity (rerunning the query and doing a comparison of results). Adding such a ‘deleted’ boolean flag, solves one set of problems, but raises additional complexity, because you end up having to check to see whether or not an object exists before you try to insert it in the database.
For example, imagine you have a user with set of CDs, which you display in a grid. If you want to allow a user to correct the name of one of the CDs, and send it back, the server side has the modified record, hopefully with and ID, and can simply save it. But if you delete one of the CDs from the collection, the server side does not have the modified object, and so has to figure out which one to delete. Gilead, with its knowledge of the object graph, seems at first glance like it could solve this problem elegantly (a quick search on the Gilead site shows nothing that I could see).
All that said, if you’re thinking about using hibernate and GWT in the same project, reading this paper and running through the examples will be a worthwhile use of your time.
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