JPA / Hibernate CriteriaQuery — fetching a partial entity and child with joins using createTupleQuery

I recently worked through a N+1 queries problem with Hibernate that was a bit of a struggle, and involved a lot of trial and error, so I thought I’d share the results of my efforts. I wanted to fetch an entity, but only some of its fields. The fields I wanted included a simple field (a String), as well as a child object. And I wanted to get the whole thing in a single query.

I have a couple of Hibernate entities backed by a mysql database. Let’s call them Book , Author , and Publisher . Here’s the Book :

@Entity
public class Book {
String title;
String isbn;
Long year;
@OneToOne(fetch = FetchType.EAGER)
@JoinColumn(name = "authorId")
@Fetch(FetchMode.JOIN)
private Author author;
@OneToOne(fetch = FetchType.EAGER)
@JoinColumn(name = "publisherId")
@Fetch(FetchMode.JOIN)
private Publisher publisher;
public Book(String title, Author author) {
this.title = title;
this.author = author;
}
// other constructors
// accessors
// etc.
}

I was tasked with writing an API that returned the title and author of every book. In my case, Author and Publisher are complex entities, so I would like to not fetch the Publisher from the database if I can avoid it. Also, I don’t need the parent object’s isbn or year in this particular API response.

My initial code worked great and it looked like this:

// works, but has an N+1 problem.  probably don't do thisCriteriaBuilder cb = session.getCriteriaBuilder();
CriteriaQuery<Book> cq = cb.createQuery(Book.class);
Root<Book> entity = cq.from(Book.class);
Predicate predicate = entity.get("year").in(targetYear);
cq.where(predicate);
cq.multiselect(
entity.get("title"),
entity.get("author")
);
Stream<Book> = session.createQuery(cq).getResultStream();

Looks good and did everything I wanted it to do. I needed a Book constructor that accepted a title and an author, and it all worked. Product shipped, ticket closed.

Fast forward to a database with 10,000 books and the performance was terrible. By configuring JPA to log the queries being executed, I saw I had a classic N+1 query problem — Hibernate executed one query to get the books, and then one more query per book, to get the Authors. 10,001 queries to get 10,000 books.

I found lots of stackoverflow posts on this topic, but none of them worked for me. For one thing, they felt only partially complete — they advised creating a javax.persistence.criteria.join, but didn’t provide enough information on what to with that join. When I tried it, N+1 remained:

// also works, but also has an N+1 problem. probably don't do this
// either
CriteriaBuilder cb = session.getCriteriaBuilder();
CriteriaQuery<Book> cq = cb.createQuery(Book.class);
Root<Book> entity = cq.from(Book.class);
Join<Book, Author> bookAuthorJoin =
entity.join("author", JoinType.LEFT);
cq.multiselect(
entity.get("title"),
bookAuthorJoin
);
Stream<Book> = session.createQuery(cq).getResultStream();

Another common error I came across, as I tried different combinations of Join and Fetch and Subquery and setHint and everything else I saw mentioned on SO, was this one:

query specified join fetching, but the owner of the fetched association was not present in the select list

Most of the SO explanations indicated this is because we aren’t really fetching a Book, but instead we are fetching a String (the title), along with the Author . But I couldn’t translate that into a working method.

I finally find the right combination of things to make it work, and I hope this helps you with your project as well. createTupleQuery gave me what I needed, and I’ll include a more compete example than what I could find online:

// fetches only the fields of Book that I ask for,
// and fetches all fields of the Author, in a single
// query
CriteriaBuilder cb = session.getCriteriaBuilder();
CriteriaQuery<Tuple> cq = cb.createTupleQuery();
Root<Book> entity = cq.from(Book.class);
Join<Book, Author> bookAuthorJoin =
entity.join("author", JoinType.LEFT);
cq.multiselect(
entity.get("title"),
bookAuthorJoin
);
Stream<Book> result =
session.createQuery(cq).getResultStream().map(tuple ->
new Book(
tuple.get(entity.get("title")),
tuple.get(bookAuthorJoin)
));

There must be a lot of magic under the hood that this doesn’t generate any type-safety warnings in my idea, but it works, runs a single query, and joins together the two hibernate entities while only fetching the parts that I need to build my API response.

The savings from solving the N+1 problem are huge. (In my real life case, with more complicated objects, query time when from 21,000ms to 950ms). As a practical matter, skipping the fetch of the Book.isbn and the Book.year saves me almost nothing, but not having to join on the Publisher table is definitely a win. If you’re solving a similar problem, a CriteriaQuery<Tuple> might be the way to go.

Hope this helps!

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Mike Kowdley

Mike Kowdley

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