3 Reasons to Hate Hibernate
Warning: this is a rant.
This is just a collection of observations of Hibernate, from the perspective of an Oracle developer/”DBA”. I’m aware of some of the benefits of using Hibernate to shield Java developers from having to know anything about the database or the SQL language, but sometimes it seems to me that we might generally be better off if they were required to learn a little about what’s going on “underneath the hood”. (Then I remind myself that it’s my job to help them get the most out of the database the client spent so much money getting.)
So, here are my gripes about Hibernate – just getting them off my chest so I can put them to bed.
Disclaimer: I know every Hibernate aficionado will jump in with “but it’s easy to fix that, all you have to do is…” but these are generalizations only.
Exhibit A: Generic Query Generators
As soon as I’d loaded all the converted data into the dev and test instances, we started hitting silly performance issues. A simple search on a unique identifier would take 20-30 seconds to return at first, then settle down to 4-8 seconds a pop. Quite rightly, everyone expected these searches to be virtually instant.
The culprit was usually a query like this:
select count(*) as y0_ from XYZ.SOME_TABLE this_ inner join XYZ.SOME_CHILD_TABLE child1_ on this_.PARENT_ID=child1_.PARENT_ID where lower(this_.UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER) like :1 order by child1_.COLH asc, child1_.COLB asc, this_.ANOTHER_COL desc
What’s wrong with this query, you might ask?
Issue 1: Case-insensitive searches by default
Firstly, it is calling LOWER() on the unique identifier, which will never contain any alphabetic characters, so case-insensitive searches will never be required – and so it will not use the unique index on that column. Instead of forcing the developers to think about whether case-insensitive searches are required or not for each column, it allows them to simply blanket the whole system with these – and quite often no-one will notice until the system goes into UAT or even Prod and someone actually decides to test searching on that particular column, and decides that waiting for half a minute is unacceptable. It’s quite likely that for some cases even this won’t occur, and these poorly performing queries (along with their associated load on the database server) will be used all the time, and people will complain about the general poor performance of the database.
Issue 2: Count first, then re-query for the data
Secondly, it is doing a COUNT(*) on a query which will immediately after be re-issued in order to get the actual data. I’d much prefer that the developers were writing the SQL by hand. That way, it’d be a trivial matter to ask them to get rid of the needless COUNT(*) query; and if they simply must show a total record count on the page, add a COUNT(*) OVER () to the main query – thus killing two birds with one efficient stone.
Exhibit B: Magical Class Generators (tables only)
Issue 3: No views, no procedures, no functions
When someone buys Hibernate, they might very well ask: is it possible to call an Oracle procedure or function with this product? And the answer is, of course, “yes”. Sure, you can do anything you want!
The day the Java developers peel off the shrinkwrap, the first thing they try is creating a Java class based on a single table. With glee they see it automagically create all the member attributes and getter/setter methods, and with no manual intervention required they can start coding the creation, modification and deletion of records using this class, which takes care of all the dirty SQL for them.
Then, the crusty old Oracle developer/”DBA” comes along and says: “It’d be better if you could use this API I’ve lovingly crafted in a PL/SQL package – everything you need is in there, and you’ll be shielded from any complicated stuff we might need to put in the database now or later. All you have to do is call these simple procedures and functions.” And the Java developer goes “sure, no problem” – until they discover that Hibernate cannot automatically create the same kind of class they’ve already gotten accustomed to.
“What, we actually need to read the function/procedure definition and hand-code all the calls to them? No sir, not happening.” After all, they bought Hibernate to save them all that kind of work, and who’s going to blame them?
So, you say, “Ok, no problem, we’ll wrap the API calls with some simple views, backed by instead-of triggers.” But then they hit another wall – Hibernate can’t tell from a view definition how that view relates to other views or tables.
The end result is that all the Java code does is access tables directly. And you get the kind of queries (and worse) that you saw in Exhibit “A” above.
There. I feel so much better already.