Damian Hagge

Helping companies with Software and Technical Strategy

Spring Boot + JDBI

by Damian Hagge on September 29, 2016
Spring Boot + JDBI

Note: this is an article I originally published on sitepoint.com.

I recently found myself architecting yet another microservices REST backend. Within the past few years I’ve written from-scratch backends in Spring, Dropwizard and even in Python using web.py but each has left me wanting more.


The grandaddy of modern microservices backends spring has great dynamic injection (DI) and a large extensive library of addons, but it tends to have long startup time and feels quite heavy and enterprisey when compared to some of the newer microservices frameworks.

It also features out of the box support for Hibernate as an ORM layer which (feel free to flame me in the comments) in my experience gets in the way as often as it doesn’t. It’s great for simple relational structures and is quick to bootstrap solutions but as soon as you’re dealing with complex data structures or want specific types of queries (say for efficiency) it becomes quite cumbersome.


A light-weight Jersey container which provides great support for JDBI as an ORM-light solution. I’ve found JDBI to be a simple way to interact with a DB, yes you have to bind your ResultSets to your model objects manually but I’ve found it a small price to pay for the great flexibility it provides. In my opinion it’s a really nice solution that sits somewhere between JDBC and a full-blown ORM.

What dropwizard doesn’t do well is DI. There is support for Guice via extensions like dropwizard-guice but I have found these to be clunky at best. My biggest issue with all of these solutions is that you end up with separate DI graphs for each module. This isn’t a problem for simple applications but I’ve experienced in complex applications that dropwizard-guice becomes quite unweildy and the seperate DI graphs end up having the same class being injected with a different instance/state which can start producing unintended results.

I really just want out of the box DI that is easy to use and gets out of the way. This should be plumbing, not an application feature.


Well, clearly one of these things is not like the other. I included web.py because I have written a fully-featured rest tier in it and if your religion is python then it’s a good choice. If you’re actually contemplating a Java-based framework then this obviously isn’t your cup of tea.

Spring Boot

Spring Boot is a lightweight version of Spring that is focussed on creating Spring-like applications that “just run”. If you’re new to Spring Boot there are some excellent getting started guides in the Spring Boot reference guide.

Whereas Spring can feel quite enterprisey, Spring Boot both feels and performs like a true first-class microservices framework. It has the same great support for DI as Spring and also features an extensive library of spring-boot-starter-* maven dependencies that you can use to add support for a great many things.

It still, however, uses hibernate as it’s “native” ORM tier. Now if that’s fine for you then go for it, Spring Boot out of the box is a great solution but for me I just find Hibernate too cumbersome.

Hibernate vs JDBI

I’ve stated that Hibernate “gets in the way” and that JDBI is “a really nice solution” which bears further discussion to draw out a few points. Firstly, there are many Hibernate applications which operate well at scale (and I have developed many), however, there is very much a trend to move away from heavy ORM solutions for some of the following reasons:

  • Hibernate can generate large numbers of unecesary queries, even due to minor misconfigurations. When properly configured it still often performs worse than simple SQL queries.
  • ORMs are “leaky abstractions” which purport to shield us from lower-level DB details, but inevitably to use the abstraction effectively we have to know the internals.
  • Hibernate is opinionated about your data strucure. When you have a data structure that doesn’t folow it’s notion of keys and relationships you immediately run up against the Object-relational Impedance Mismatch.
  • You don’t see the performance problems until you scale! When your application is small and simple everything seems to go along smoothly, then you scale and all of a sudden hibernate queries are the root of your performance problems. I’ve myself hit this situation many times and it’s always taken significant rework to fix the issues.

This quora post is an excellent discussion that reinforces some of the points I make above and also touches on others. This certainly isn’t a right or wrong discussion and I do not want to suggest that JBDI is the cure to all evils, but it is an alternative to a “heavy” ORM like Hibernate. I have personally encountered many tech companies which are happly using JDBI inside Dropwizard and would not move back to using Hibernate.

So what’s a savvy software engineer to do?

Spring Boot + JDBI

I wanted the best of both Spring Boot DI as well as a nice simple and consice ORM layer using JDBI so I created spring-boot-jdbi-seed. This project on github features a full rest tier (note: no security, that’s for another blog post) as well as integration tests, checkstyle, findbugs, etc. But I want to focus on specifically what I had to do to get Spring Boot and JDBI integrated.


Firstly I had to get rid of those hibernate libs

configurations {
    all*.exclude group: "org.hibernate", module: "hibernate-entitymanager"
    all*.exclude group: "org.apache.tomcat", module: "tomcat-jdbc"

And then let’s add the dependencies we need ```gradle dependencies { compile ( … “org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-jdbc”, “joda-time:joda-time:2.8.1”, “org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-data-jpa”, “org.jdbi:jdbi:2.71”, … )

) } ```

I’m adding joda-time to allow for DateTime objects to be serialized to/from the DB. I include joda-time since I personally still use it over Java 8 Date and Time since Joda-Interval, PeriodFormatter or PeriodType are not available in Java-8.


Next I added the data access properties configuration to application.properties. Spring Boot nicely allows us to use the generic spring.datasource.* properties rather than any jdbi-specific properties.


Note that I used MySQL as the DB but that can be swapped out with whichever driver you want to use of course.


Next, set the jvm timezone default to UTC so that all DateTime objects will be set to UTC. This helps greatly serializing to/from the DB and not accidentally getting timezone conversions being applied when they shouldn’t be. Secondly, we’re registering JodaModule so that we can actually serialize the instances.

public void postConstruct() {
    // set the JVM timezone to UTC

public Module jodaModule() {
    return new JodaModule();


Now we have to create the Spring Boot configuration that will actually expose JDBI as well as map date/time objects. The full code can be found in PersistenceConfiguration.java but I’ll draw out the key code here:

public class PersistenceConfiguration {

    DataSource dataSource;

    public DBI dbiBean() {
        DBI dbi = new DBI(dataSource);
        dbi.registerArgumentFactory(new DateTimeArgumentFactory());
        dbi.registerArgumentFactory(new LocalDateArgumentFactory());
        dbi.registerColumnMapper(new JodaDateTimeMapper());
        return dbi;


     * DBI argument factory for converting joda DateTime to sql timestamp
    public static class DateTimeArgumentFactory implements ArgumentFactory<DateTime> {

        public boolean accepts(Class<?> expectedType, Object value, StatementContext ctx) {
            return value != null && DateTime.class.isAssignableFrom(value.getClass());

        public Argument build(Class<?> expectedType, final DateTime value, StatementContext ctx) {
            return new Argument() {
                public void apply(int position, PreparedStatement statement, StatementContext ctx) throws SQLException {
                    long millis = value.withZone(DateTimeZone.UTC).getMillis();
                    statement.setTimestamp(position, new Timestamp(millis), getUtcCalendar());

     * A {@link ResultColumnMapper} to map Joda {@link DateTime} objects.
    public static class JodaDateTimeMapper implements ResultColumnMapper<DateTime> {

        public DateTime mapColumn(ResultSet rs, int columnNumber, StatementContext ctx) throws SQLException {
            final Timestamp timestamp = rs.getTimestamp(columnNumber, getUtcCalendar());
            if (timestamp == null) {
                return null;
            return new DateTime(timestamp.getTime());

        public DateTime mapColumn(ResultSet rs, String columnLabel, StatementContext ctx) throws SQLException {
            final Timestamp timestamp = rs.getTimestamp(columnLabel, getUtcCalendar());
            if (timestamp == null) {
                return null;
            return new DateTime(timestamp.getTime());

Autowire and use JDBI

That’s it, now you can autowire and use a DBI object to do everything that JDBI allows you to do.

public class TestResource {

    DBI dbi;

    @RequestMapping(method = RequestMethod.GET)
    public String get() {
        String name;
        Handle handle = dbi.open();
        try {
            name = handle.createQuery("select description from my_test")
        } finally {
        return name;

I personally tend to use the JDBI SQL Object API which I find a simple and convinient way to query data but you can read the docs and use what’s right for you.

Running the code

Make sure you have Java 8, git and MySQL installed on your machine.

First, from the command line, pull the code from git: git clone https://github.com/dhagge/spring-boot-jdbi-seed.git

Then to build it just do the following: ./gradlew build

Seed the database with some test schema and data: ./gradlew dbUpdate ./gradlew dbSeed

Run the Spring Boot service: ./gradlew bootRun

Now call the test REST service from a new command prompt: curl localhost:9090/test

You’ll see the response Hello there, this is a test! which is actually data obtained from the my_test table in the database via the TestResource class.

Full source code can be found at spring-boot-jdbi-seed, please fork and use at your leisure!

Tags: spring-boot jdbi micro services