How to map the latest child of a parent entity using Hibernate @JoinFormula


Today, I stumbled upon a StackOverflow answer that I gave some time ago and realized that it deserves a post of its own.

As previously explained, the @JoinFormula is a very awesome annotation which allows you to customize the way you join entities beyond JPA @JoinColumn capabilities.

Domain Model

For the upcoming test cases, we are going to use the following entities:


The PostComment entity is mapped as follows:

@Entity(name = "PostComment")
@Table(name = "post_comment")
public class PostComment {

    private Long id;

    @ManyToOne(fetch = FetchType.LAZY)
    private Post post;

    private String review;

    @Column(name = "created_on")
    private Date createdOn;

    //Getters and setters omitted for brevity

Not only the PostComment has a @ManyToOne association to a Post, but the Post is also associated with the latest PostComment as follows:

@Entity(name = "Post")
@Table(name = "post")
public class Post {

    private Long id;

    private String title;

    @ManyToOne(fetch = FetchType.LAZY)
    @JoinFormula("(" +
        "SELECT " +
        "FROM post_comment pc " +
        "WHERE pc.post_id = id " +
        "ORDER BY pc.created_on DESC " +
        "LIMIT 1" +
    private PostComment latestComment;

    //Getters and setters omitted for brevity

The latestComment attribute associates the parent Post entity with the latest PostComment child entity. The @JoinFormula annotation allows us to define any SQL select query to provide the relationship between two entities.

Testing time

Considering we have the following entities in our database:

Post post = new Post();
post.setTitle("High-Performance Java Persistence");

PostComment comment1 = new PostComment();
    LocalDateTime.of(2016, 11, 2, 12, 33, 14)

PostComment comment2 = new PostComment();
    LocalDateTime.of(2016, 11, 2, 15, 45, 58)

PostComment comment3 = new PostComment();
    LocalDateTime.of(2017, 2, 16, 16, 10, 21)

When we fetch the Post entity, we can see that the latestComment attribute works as expected:

Post post = entityManager.find(Post.class, 1L);
PostComment latestComment = post.getLatestComment();

assertEquals("Awesome!", latestComment.getReview());

If you enjoyed this article, I bet you are going to love my book as well.


As I explained in my book, High-Performance Java Persistence, if you don’t take advantage of the underlying JPA provider or relational database capabilities, you are going to lose lots of features.

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4 thoughts on “How to map the latest child of a parent entity using Hibernate @JoinFormula

  1. Hi Vlad, there is one thing I don’t understand. Why do we need a ManyToOne annotation in the latestComment attribute even knowing that there’s just always one “latestComment” for a post?
    Thank you.

  2. I have been looking for such code last week. Why oh why I didn’t find that page when 🙂 AFAIR it doesn’t work with @OneToOne annotation. Only @ManyToOne works for me. I explain it to me like “Many Posts to one JointFormula for PostComment” :-). Anyway it works like a charm.

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