Dec 242016

I have been scouring the internet for opinions and alternatives to what Java has to offer in terms of both ORM and non-ORM for database access. Unlike Python, I do not clearly know what is out there for Java. Rails is easy, if you use Rails you use ActiveRecord and forget about anything else. Hibernate seems to be much-used historically for Java and Spring framework as ORM layer. In any case, for building small apps and micro-services which are data centric it would be overkill to use ORM. Unlike Rails/Ruby, Java projects are much more active and well maintained.

Found an interesting thread on Reddit discussing alternatives to ORM even though the ask was about ORM. I found the following possible non-ORM alternatives that could come in handy.

JDBC : Pure database and SQL query part of Java API. Verbose (which Java tends to be anyway) but no frills. This is the direct interface to Database using the API standard. I think it’s important to learn this way first anyway plus it’s always going to work if you get it right. Where complex POJO are not required , JDBC is the best option.

JDBI: An interesting wrapper to JDBC that makes it easier to use JDBC and less verbose. Surely worth a look and the DAO layer is all we need mostly to not have to write the same queries over and over again.

JOOQ: Java 8 lambda supporting interface to JDBC much like JDBI but with lot more features including code generation from database. A lot of focus on functional programming and lambdas. Good reason for it as the author also created lambdaj for Java 5. It has neat data binding practices which I would certainly consider for SparkJava. It is commercial though OSS. it is still free for non-commercial databases. So if you use MariaDB or PostgresSQL you’re fine. Overkill for small apps as some suggest but it’s worth mentioning.

SQL2o – I only discovered it when I was evaluating SparkJava and it is amazing. It is as low footprint as JDBC but adds Java class mapping, extremely terse. This could be a go to instead of JDBC. Try-with-resources for added ease of use.  Definitely looking like my go-to after JDBC

ORMLite – It’s a lightweight ORM. Commonly used for Android apps but can be used as server side just the same. Weird licensing so I am unlikely to use it.

Once I run out of JDBC which is likely as I write more POJO to save objects, I might consider SQL2O

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