How to increment the parent entity version whenever a child entity gets modified with JPA and Hibernate

(Last Updated On: December 5, 2018)


StackOverflow and the Hibernate forum are gold mines. Yesterday, I bumped on the following question on our forum:

Usually, the rationale behind clustering objects together is to form a transactional boundary inside which business invariants are protected. I’ve noticed that with the OPTIMISTIC locking mode changes to a child entity will not cause a version increment on the root. This behavior makes it quite useless to cluster objects together in the first place.

Is there a way to configure Hibernate so that any changes to an object cluster will cause the root object’s version to increment? I’ve read about OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT but I think this does increment the version regardless of if entities were changed or not. Since reads shouldn’t be conflicting with other reads in most scenarios, this doesn’t seem so useful either.

I could always increment the version inside every mutating behavior of the root, but that is quite error-prone. I’ve also thought of perhaps using AOP to do this, but before looking into it, I wanted to know if there were any easy way to do that. If there were a way to check if an object graph is dirty, then it would make it quite easy to implement as well.

What a brilliant question! This post is going to demonstrate how easy you can implement such a requirement when using Hibernate.

Domain Model

First, let’s assume we have the following entities in our system:


The Post is the root entity, and it might have several PostComment entities. Every PostComment can have at most one PostCommentDetails. These entities are mapped as follows:

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

    private Long id;

    private String title;

    private int version;

    //Getters and setters omitted for brevity

@Entity(name = "PostComment")
@Table(name = "post_comment")
public class PostComment 
    implements RootAware<Post> {

    private Long id;

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

    private String review;

    //Getters and setters omitted for brevity

    public Post root() {
        return post;

@Entity(name = "PostCommentDetails")
@Table(name = "post_comment_details")
public class PostCommentDetails 
    implements RootAware<Post> {

    private Long id;

    @OneToOne(fetch = FetchType.LAZY)
    private PostComment comment;

    private int votes;

    //Getters and setters omitted for brevity

    public Post root() {
        return comment.root();

As you probably noticed, the @OneToOne association uses the awesome @MapsId mapping which I already explained in this post.

The PostComment and PostCommentDetails entities are implementing the RootAware interface which is very straightforward:

public interface RootAware<T> {
    T root();

By implementing the RootAware interface, we can resolve the root entity for any PostComment and PostCommentDetails entity.

Event Listeners

Contrary to popular belief, Hibernate is not just an ORM framework but a very customizable data access platform. For our example, we need to intercept any child entity modification and acquire an OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT event on the associated root entity.

To intercept the UPDATE and the DELETE SQL events, the following custom entity event listener is needed:

public class RootAwareUpdateAndDeleteEventListener 
    implements FlushEntityEventListener {

    private static final Logger LOGGER = 

    public static final RootAwareUpdateAndDeleteEventListener INSTANCE = 
        new RootAwareUpdateAndDeleteEventListener();

    public void onFlushEntity(FlushEntityEvent event) throws HibernateException {
        final EntityEntry entry = event.getEntityEntry();
        final Object entity = event.getEntity();
        final boolean mightBeDirty = entry.requiresDirtyCheck( entity );

        if(mightBeDirty && entity instanceof RootAware) {
            RootAware rootAware = (RootAware) entity;
            if(updated(event)) {
                Object root = rootAware.root();
      "Incrementing {} entity version because a {} child entity has been updated", 
                    root, entity);
                incrementRootVersion(event, root);
            else if (deleted(event)) {
                Object root = rootAware.root();
      "Incrementing {} entity version because a {} child entity has been deleted", 
                    root, entity);
                incrementRootVersion(event, root);

    private void incrementRootVersion(FlushEntityEvent event, Object root) {
        event.getSession().lock(root, LockMode.OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT);

    private boolean deleted(FlushEntityEvent event) {
        return event.getEntityEntry().getStatus() == Status.DELETED;

    private boolean updated(FlushEntityEvent event) {
        final EntityEntry entry = event.getEntityEntry();
        final Object entity = event.getEntity();

        int[] dirtyProperties;
        EntityPersister persister = entry.getPersister();
        final Object[] values = event.getPropertyValues();
        SessionImplementor session = event.getSession();

        if ( event.hasDatabaseSnapshot() ) {
            dirtyProperties = persister.findModified( 
                event.getDatabaseSnapshot(), values, entity, session 
        else {
            dirtyProperties = persister.findDirty( 
                values, entry.getLoadedState(), entity, session 

        return dirtyProperties != null;

This event listener is going to be executed whenever an entity is flushed by the currently running Persistence Context. Every entity modification is automatically detected by the dirty checking mechanism and marked as dirty.

If the entity is dirty and implements the RootAware interface, then we can just lock the parent entity with an OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT lock type. This lock type is going to increment the root entity version during the flush operation.

To intercept when new child entities are being persisted, the following event listener is needed:

public class RootAwareInsertEventListener 
    implements PersistEventListener {

    private static final Logger LOGGER = 

    public static final RootAwareInsertEventListener INSTANCE = 
        new RootAwareInsertEventListener();

    public void onPersist(PersistEvent event) throws HibernateException {
        final Object entity = event.getObject();

        if(entity instanceof RootAware) {
            RootAware rootAware = (RootAware) entity;
            Object root = rootAware.root();
            event.getSession().lock(root, LockMode.OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT);

  "Incrementing {} entity version because a {} child entity has been inserted", 
                root, entity);

    public void onPersist(PersistEvent event, Map createdAlready) 
        throws HibernateException {

To register these two event listeners, we need to provide a org.hibernate.integrator.spi.Integrator implementation:

public class RootAwareEventListenerIntegrator
    implements org.hibernate.integrator.spi.Integrator {

    public static final RootAwareEventListenerIntegrator INSTANCE = 
        new RootAwareEventListenerIntegrator();

    public void integrate(
            Metadata metadata,
            SessionFactoryImplementor sessionFactory,
            SessionFactoryServiceRegistry serviceRegistry) {

        final EventListenerRegistry eventListenerRegistry =


    public void disintegrate(
            SessionFactoryImplementor sessionFactory,
            SessionFactoryServiceRegistry serviceRegistry) {
        //Do nothing

When bootstrapping the JPA EntityManagerFactory, we can provide the RootAwareEventListenerIntegrator via the hibernate.integrator_provider configuration property:

    (IntegratorProvider) () -> Collections.singletonList(

Testing time

Assuming we have the following entities within our system:

doInJPA(entityManager -> {
    Post post = new Post();
    post.setTitle("High-Performance Java Persistence");

    PostComment comment1 = new PostComment();

    PostCommentDetails details1 = new PostCommentDetails();

    PostComment comment2 = new PostComment();

    PostCommentDetails details2 = new PostCommentDetails();


Updating child entities

When updating a PostCommentDetails entity:

PostCommentDetails postCommentDetails = entityManager.createQuery(
    "select pcd " +
    "from PostCommentDetails pcd " +
    "join fetch pcd.comment pc " +
    "join fetch p " +
    "where = :id", PostCommentDetails.class)
.setParameter("id", 2L)


Hibernate generates the following SQL statements:

SELECT  pcd.comment_id AS comment_2_2_0_ , AS id1_1_1_ , AS id1_0_2_ ,
        pcd.votes AS votes1_2_0_ ,
        pc.post_id AS post_id3_1_1_ , AS review2_1_1_ ,
        p.title AS title2_0_2_ ,
        p.version AS version3_0_2_
FROM    post_comment_details pcd
INNER JOIN post_comment pc ON pcd.comment_id =
INNER JOIN post p ON pc.post_id =
WHERE   pcd.comment_id = 2

UPDATE post_comment_details 
SET votes = 15 
WHERE comment_id = 2

UPDATE post 
SET version = 1 
where id = 1 AND version = 0

As you can see, not only the post_comment_details row gets updated but the post version is also incremented.

The same goes for the PostComment entity modifications:

PostComment postComment = entityManager.createQuery(
    "select pc " +
    "from PostComment pc " +
    "join fetch p " +
    "where = :id", PostComment.class)
.setParameter("id", 2L)


Hibernate generating the following SQL statements:

SELECT AS id1_1_0_ , AS id1_0_1_ ,
        pc.post_id AS post_id3_1_0_ , AS review2_1_0_ ,
        p.title AS title2_0_1_ ,
        p.version AS version3_0_1_
FROM    post_comment pc
INNER JOIN post p ON pc.post_id =

UPDATE post_comment 
SET post_id = 1, review = 'Brilliant!' 
WHERE id = 2

UPDATE post 
SET version = 2 
WHERE id = 1 AND version = 1

Adding new child entities

The parent Post entity version is incremented even when a new child entity is being persisted:

Post post = entityManager.getReference(Post.class, 1L);

PostComment postComment = new PostComment();
postComment.setReview("Worth it!");

Hibernate generating the following SQL statements:

SELECT AS id1_0_0_ ,
       p.title AS title2_0_0_ ,
       p.version AS version3_0_0_
FROM   post p

INSERT INTO post_comment (post_id, review, id) 
VALUES (1, 'Worth it!', 3)

UPDATE post 
SET version = 3 
WHERE id = 1 AND version = 2

Removing child entities

This solution works even when removing existing child entities:

PostComment postComment = entityManager.getReference(PostComment.class, 3l);

Hibernate being able to increment the parent entity version accordingly:

SELECT AS id1_1_0_ ,
       pc.post_id AS post_id3_1_0_ , AS review2_1_0_
FROM   post_comment pc

SELECT AS id1_0_0_ ,
       p.title AS title2_0_0_ ,
       p.version AS version3_0_0_
FROM   post p

DELETE FROM post_comment 
WHERE id = 3

UPDATE post 
SET version = 4 
WHERE id = 1 and version = 3

Cool, right?

If you enjoyed this article, I bet you are going to love my Book and Video Courses as well.


Synchronizing a root entity version for every child entity modification is fairly easy with Hibernate. Hibernate supports many concurrency control mechanisms, as illustrated in this comprehensive tutorial.

Code available on GitHub.

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14 thoughts on “How to increment the parent entity version whenever a child entity gets modified with JPA and Hibernate

  1. Thanks this works nice! However, when I insert/update/delete RootAware entity it increments Root version correctly. But as soon as I try to update the Root entity as well I get following exception: org.hibernate.StaleStateException: Batch update returned unexpected row count from update [0]; actual row count: 0;

    That’s because hibernate tries to execute: update root set … where id=? and version=?. That’s because version has been incremented in the mean time.

    Do you have any idea how to solve this? I wasn’t able to refresh the Root entity in any way 😦

  2. Hi, first of all, thanks for the article.

    In my usecase I use spring @Transactional annotation on a method that should save the entity. The entity is given as dto object, mapped to an entity, saved with saveAndFlush, the result is remapped to a dto object and returned. Because the annotation defines the scope of the transaction, it is commited only after all that. My problem is now, that I can increase the version the way you described it, but the increment takes place only before the transaction is commited. So the version is not increased in the dto object the method returns. Do you have any idea how I can force the increment to happen before the result of saveAndFlush is remapped to the dto?

      1. Before I found this article we marked a parent entity as dirty by changing a modified field (filled by a JPA-Listener), and after a flush the parent entity has its new version (unless the JPA-Listener inserts the same value back).

        Using this post’s method I run into the same issue as Kristina, but flushing the EntityManager doesn’t update the parent’s version field until the tx is committed.

        I much prefer this posts method, especially since changing a modified field can result in a missing version bump if the JPA-Listener inserts the same value again, but I need the new parent version after a flush.

        Is there any other way to achieve this?

      2. Try to replicate it with a test case. You can use the test on GitHub as a template to emulate your use case which you say is not working.

  3. That is one great article! It simply works and is immediately transferable to my own projects. Thank you.

    How would you combine this approach with auditing (envers)?
    When I’m trying to do that, I can update the child element (PostComment) which increments the version on the parent (Post), but only the child is audited (an insert to post_comment_aud). Hibernate does not generate an insert to the parent audit table (post_aud), only the update (to update the version column).

    The two don’t mix together very well.

    1. Optimistic locking and auditing have nothing in common. One is to ensure data consistency while the other is for tracking modifications after they got validated by the transaction engine. More, they are not exclusive, so you can have both of them. In your case, it’s most likely a problem with how you configured the entities for Envers.

  4. Hi, thanks for the great article, it has helped me a lot.

    I have a requirement wherein I need to update the timestamp on the parent entity along with incrementing the version number when a child entity is updated. I have tried to put in this code in RootAwareUpdateAndDeleteEventListener but it does not update the parent timestamp although it correctly increments the version of parent entity. Could you please explain how to achieve this?

    1. You can use a database trigger for that to update the timestamp when the parent version is changed.

      1. Very nice solution.

        The use of
        event.getSession().lock(root, LockMode.OPTIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT);
        will result in an additional update statement even for a dirty entity. In my application, I have a need to update an entity’s version regardless of whether or not its dirty. With this in mind, if I use LockMode.OPTIMISTIC two update statements will be issued (one for the actual change and one for the lock mode). Alternatively I could just increment the version programmatically (entity.setVersion(entity.getVersion()++)). Is there anything wrong with that approach?

        Assuming that a version update is needed on an entity and its unknown if the entity has changed

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