12.3 Controlling database connections

12.3.1 DataSource

Spring obtains a connection to the database through a DataSource. A DataSource is part of the JDBC specification and is a generalized connection factory. It allows a container or a framework to hide connection pooling and transaction management issues from the application code. As a developer, you need not know details about how to connect to the database; that is the responsibility of the administrator that sets up the datasource. You most likely fill both roles as you develop and test code, but you do not necessarily have to know how the production data source is configured.

When using Spring's JDBC layer, you obtain a data source from JNDI or you configure your own with a connection pool implementation provided by a third party. Popular implementations are Apache Jakarta Commons DBCP and C3P0. Implementations in the Spring distribution are meant only for testing purposes and do not provide pooling.

This section uses Spring's DriverManagerDataSource implementation, and several additional implementations are covered later.


Only use the DriverManagerDataSource class should only be used for testing purposes since it does not provide pooling and will perform poorly when multiple requests for a connection are made.

You obtain a connection with DriverManagerDataSource as you typically obtain a JDBC connection. Specify the fully qualified classname of the JDBC driver so that the DriverManager can load the driver class. Next, provide a URL that varies between JDBC drivers. (Consult the documentation for your driver for the correct value.) Then provide a username and a password to connect to the database. Here is an example of how to configure a DriverManagerDataSource in Java code:

DriverManagerDataSource dataSource = new DriverManagerDataSource();

Here is the corresponding XML configuration:

<bean id="dataSource" class="org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DriverManagerDataSource">
    <property name="driverClassName" value="${jdbc.driverClassName}"/>
    <property name="url" value="${jdbc.url}"/>
    <property name="username" value="${jdbc.username}"/>
    <property name="password" value="${jdbc.password}"/>

<context:property-placeholder location="jdbc.properties"/>

The following examples show the basic connectivity and configuration for DBCP and C3P0. To learn about more options that help control the pooling features, see the product documentation for the respective connection pooling implementations.

DBCP configuration:

<bean id="dataSource" 
        class="org.apache.commons.dbcp.BasicDataSource" destroy-method="close">
    <property name="driverClassName" value="${jdbc.driverClassName}"/>
    <property name="url" value="${jdbc.url}"/>
    <property name="username" value="${jdbc.username}"/>
    <property name="password" value="${jdbc.password}"/>

<context:property-placeholder location="jdbc.properties"/>

C3P0 configuration:

<bean id="dataSource"
        class="com.mchange.v2.c3p0.ComboPooledDataSource" destroy-method="close">
    <property name="driverClass" value="${jdbc.driverClassName}"/>
    <property name="jdbcUrl" value="${jdbc.url}"/>
    <property name="user" value="${jdbc.username}"/>
    <property name="password" value="${jdbc.password}"/>

<context:property-placeholder location="jdbc.properties"/>

12.3.2 DataSourceUtils

The DataSourceUtils class is a convenient and powerful helper class that provides static methods to obtain connections from JNDI and close connections if necessary. It supports thread-bound connections with, for example, DataSourceTransactionManager.

12.3.3 SmartDataSource

The SmartDataSource interface should be implemented by classes that can provide a connection to a relational database. It extends the DataSource interface to allow classes using it to query whether the connection should be closed after a given operation. This usage is efficient when you know that you will reuse a connection.

12.3.4 AbstractDataSource

AbstractDataSource is an abstract base class for Spring's DataSource implementations that implements code that is common to all DataSource implementations. You extend the AbstractDataSource class if you are writing your own DataSource implementation.

12.3.5 SingleConnectionDataSource

The SingleConnectionDataSource class is an implementation of the SmartDataSource interface that wraps a single Connection that is not closed after each use. Obviously, this is not multi-threading capable.

If any client code calls close in the assumption of a pooled connection, as when using persistence tools, set the suppressClose property to true. This setting returns a close-suppressing proxy wrapping the physical connection. Be aware that you will not be able to cast this to a native Oracle Connection or the like anymore.

This is primarily a test class. For example, it enables easy testing of code outside an application server, in conjunction with a simple JNDI environment. In contrast to DriverManagerDataSource, it reuses the same connection all the time, avoiding excessive creation of physical connections.

12.3.6 DriverManagerDataSource

The DriverManagerDataSource class is an implementation of the standard DataSource interface that configures a plain JDBC driver through bean properties, and returns a new Connection every time.

This implementation is useful for test and stand-alone environments outside of a Java EE container, either as a DataSource bean in a Spring IoC container, or in conjunction with a simple JNDI environment. Pool-assuming Connection.close() calls will simply close the connection, so any DataSource-aware persistence code should work. However, using JavaBean-style connection pools such as commons-dbcp is so easy, even in a test environment, that it is almost always preferable to use such a connection pool over DriverManagerDataSource.

12.3.7 TransactionAwareDataSourceProxy

TransactionAwareDataSourceProxy is a proxy for a target DataSource, which wraps that target DataSource to add awareness of Spring-managed transactions. In this respect, it is similar to a transactional JNDI DataSource as provided by a Java EE server.


It is rarely desirable to use this class, except when already existing code that must be called and passed a standard JDBC DataSource interface implementation. In this case, it's possible to still have this code be usable, and at the same time have this code participating in Spring managed transactions. It is generally preferable to write your own new code using the higher level abstractions for resource management, such as JdbcTemplate or DataSourceUtils.

(See the TransactionAwareDataSourceProxy Javadocs for more details.)

12.3.8 DataSourceTransactionManager

The DataSourceTransactionManager class is a PlatformTransactionManager implementation for single JDBC datasources. It binds a JDBC connection from the specified data source to the currently executing thread, potentially allowing for one thread connection per data source.

Application code is required to retrieve the JDBC connection through DataSourceUtils.getConnection(DataSource) instead of Java EE's standard DataSource.getConnection. It throws unchecked org.springframework.dao exceptions instead of checked SQLExceptions. All framework classes like JdbcTemplate use this strategy implicitly. If not used with this transaction manager, the lookup strategy behaves exactly like the common one - it can thus be used in any case.

The DataSourceTransactionManager class supports custom isolation levels, and timeouts that get applied as appropriate JDBC statement query timeouts. To support the latter, application code must either use JdbcTemplate or call the DataSourceUtils.applyTransactionTimeout(..) method for each created statement.

This implementation can be used instead of JtaTransactionManager in the single resource case, as it does not require the container to support JTA. Switching between both is just a matter of configuration, if you stick to the required connection lookup pattern. JTA does not support custom isolation levels!

12.3.9 NativeJdbcExtractor

Sometimes you need to access vendor specific JDBC methods that differ from the standard JDBC API. This can be problematic if you are running in an application server or with a DataSource that wraps the Connection, Statement and ResultSet objects with its own wrapper objects. To gain access to the native objects you can configure your JdbcTemplate or OracleLobHandler with a NativeJdbcExtractor.

The NativeJdbcExtractor comes in a variety of flavors to match your execution environment:

  • SimpleNativeJdbcExtractor

  • C3P0NativeJdbcExtractor

  • CommonsDbcpNativeJdbcExtractor

  • JBossNativeJdbcExtractor

  • WebLogicNativeJdbcExtractor

  • WebSphereNativeJdbcExtractor

  • XAPoolNativeJdbcExtractor

Usually the SimpleNativeJdbcExtractor is sufficient for unwrapping a Connection object in most environments. See the Javadocs for more details.