How to implement a custom basic type using Hibernate UserType

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In this article, we are going to see how we can implement a custom type using the Hibernate UserType interface.

If you wonder why you’d ever want to do this, then check out this question.

Our Hibernate user wants a resilient CharacterType that works with NULL or empty values. To make it even more interesting, we are going to make it work even if the underlying database column contains more than one character.

Custom type flavors

There are two ways to write a custom Hibernate type:

  • Using a SqlTypeDescriptor
  • Using the legacy UserType

While the former way is usually preferred, as demonstrated by this generic JSON type that works on both MySQL and PostgreSQL, I’m going to use the latter method to demonstrate how the UserTpe abstraction works.

For the current use case, we are going to use the NullableCharacterType from the Hypersistence Utils project.

First, you need to add the following dependency to your project:


For more info about which dependency to use based on the Hibernate version you are using, check out the Hypersistence Utils GitHub repository.

Testing time

Assuming we have an Event entity, for Hibernate 6, the mapping will look as follows:

@Entity(name = "Event")
@Table(name = "event")
public class Event {

    private Long id;

    @Column(name = "event_type")
    private Character type;

And for Hibernate 5, like this:

@Entity(name = "Event")
@Table(name = "event")
public class Event {

    private Long id;

    @Type(type = "io.hypersistence.utils.hibernate.type.basic.NullableCharacterType")
    @Column(name = "event_type")
    private Character type;

And if we have the following entries in the database:

INSERT INTO event (id, event_type) VALUES (1, 'abc');    
INSERT INTO event (id, event_type) VALUES (2, '');
INSERT INTO event (id, event_type) VALUES (3, 'b');

When selecting and logging all event entries:

doInJPA(entityManager -> {
    List<Event> events = entityManager.createQuery(
        "select e from Event e", Event.class)
    for(Event event : events) {"Event type: {}", event.getType());

The following output is obtained:

Event type: a
Event type:  
Event type: b


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Writing a custom type is very easy with the Hibernate UserType.

However, in this case here, you don’t even have to create the NullableCharacterType.You can just use the Hypersistence Utils project and get this type right out of the box.

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