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Hibernate Search, JMS and transactions

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Hibernate Search sends the indexing requests in the post transaction phase. Until now. The JMS backend can now send its indexing requests transactionally with the database changes. Why is that useful? Read on.

A bit of context

When you change indexed entities, Hibernate Search collects these changes during the database transaction. It then waits for the transaction to be successful before pushing them to the backend.

Hibernate Search has a few backends:

  • lucene: this one uses Lucene to index the entities

  • JMS: this one sends a JMS message with the list of index changes. This JMS queue is then read by a master which uses the Lucene backend.

  • and a few more that are not interesting here

Running the backend after the transaction (in the afterTransaction phase to be specific) is generally what you want. Just to name a few reasons:

  • you don’t want index changes to be executed if you end up rollbacking the database transaction

  • you don’t necessarily want your database changes to fail because the indexing fails: you can always rebuild the index from your database.

  • and most backends don’t support transactions anyways

Hibernate Search lets you enlist an error callback so that you are notified of these indexing problems when they happen and react the way you want (log, raise an exception, retry etc).

So why make the JMS backend join the transaction

If you make the JMS backend join the transaction, then either the database changes happen and the JMS messages are received by the queue, or nothing happens (no database change and no JMS message).

The non transactional approach is still our recommended approach. But there are a few reasons why you want to go transactional.

No code to handle the message failure

It eliminates the need to write an error callback and handle this problematic case.

Simpler exploitation processes

It simplifies your exploitation processes. You can focus on monitoring your JMS queue (rates of messages coming in, rates of messages coming out) which will give you an accurate status of the health of Hibernate Search’s work.

Transactional mass indexing

When doing changes to lots of indexed entities, it is common to use the following pseudo pattern to avoiod OutOfMemoryException

for (int i = 0 ; i < workLoadSize ; i++) {
    // do changes
    if ( i % 500 == 0 ) {

If you use the transactional JMS backend, then all the message will be sent or none of them.

Make sure your JMS implementation and your JTA transaction manager are smart and don’t keep the messages in memory or you might face an OutOfMemoryException.

More consistent batching frameworks flow

If you use a batching framework like Spring Batch which keeps its "done" status in a database, you have a guarantee that changes, indexing requests and batch status are all consistent.

How to use the feature

This feature is now integrated in master and will be in an Hibernate Search release any time soon.

We kept the configuration as simple as possible. Simply add the following property

If you try and use this option on a non transactional backend (i.e. not JMS), Hibernate Search will yell at you.

Make sure to use a XA JMS queue and that your database supports XA as we are talking about coordinated transactional systems.

Many thanks to Yoann, one of our customers, who helped us refine the why and how of that feature.

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