Hibernate – Saving a Many to Many relationship.

I am mapping my object model using Hibernate annotations.  I came across a issue when trying to save a entity bean to a table, along with a Many-to-Many relationship to a row in another table.  The exception I got was

javax.persistence.PersistenceException: org.hibernate.PersistentObjectException: detached entity passed to persist: au.com.ffff.model.Activity

The Activity table is the other table.  The one I just want to save a relationship to.  To save a new entity you need to use entityManager.persist.  To save (update) an existing entity you need to use entityManager.merge.  The entity I am saving is new, but it has a relationship with an existing entity.  The solution is to use persist to save the entity without the relationship, then add the relationship and call merge.

My tables

other fields


other fields

My entity beans

public class Event implements Serializable {

private Integer id;

@ManyToMany (cascade=CascadeType.ALL,
private Set<Activity> activities;

other fields

public class Activity implements Serializable {

private Integer id;

@ManyToMany (mappedBy=”activities”,
private Set<Event> events;

other fields

My code

Action class method

some code

// hibernate won’t just let me create an instance
// I have to get it from the DB first.
Activity activity = activityService.find(activityId);
Set<Activity> activities = new HashSet<Activity>();


more code

Service implementation

some code

Set<Activity> activities = event.getActivities();
// have to do this to keep hibernate happy.
// this inserts the row into the event table

// this inserts the row into the eventactivity table
// and would also update the activty table if it had changed

more code

This works for me.  It does mean that I have to do one more database query than I really need to.  I can’t just create a Activity instance and set the id (or hibernate will try to update all the other activity fields to null when I call merge).  I have to get the whole activity object out of the database even though the only value I need from it is the id to go into the activityId column of the EventActivity table.

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