Hibernate/JPA Single Table Inheritance Example

In the previous article, we have discussed mapped superclass inheritance strategy. In this article, we will discuss The single table strategy which maps all entities of the inheritance structure to the same database table. This approach makes polymorphic queries very efficient and provides the best performance.
Note that when no explicit inheritance strategy is registered, Hibernate/JPA will choose the SINGLE_TABLE inheritance strategy by default.
SINGLE_TABLE inheritance performs the best in terms of executed SQL statements. However, you cannot use NOT NULL constraints on the column-level. You can still use triggers and rules to enforce such constraints, but it’s not as straightforward.

Creating Models + Hibernate/JPA Mappings

Each subclass in a hierarchy must define a unique discriminator value, which is used to differentiate between rows belonging to separate subclass types. If this is not specified, the DTYPE column is used as a discriminator, storing the associated subclass name.
The inheritance strategy is defined on the abstract superclass, using the @Inheritance annotation. In this example, we used InheritanceType.SINGLE_TABLE. This means all concrete subclasses will be stored in one table. You can optionally specify a discriminator column name. This column is registered by the @DiscriminatorColumn if omitted the default DTYPE name is used.
Let's demonstrates SINGLE_TABLE inheritance strategy with a complete hibernate example.

Technologies and tools used

  • Hibernate 5.3.7.Final
  • IDE - Eclipse Noen
  • Maven 3.5.3
  • JavaSE 1.8
  • MySQL - 8.0.13

Development Steps

  1. Create a Simple Maven Project
  2. Project Directory Structure
  3. Add jar Dependencies to pom.xml
  4. Creating the JPA Entities
  5. Create a Hibernate configuration file - hibernate.cfg.xml
  6. Create a Hibernate utility class
  7. Create the Main class and Run an Application

1. Create a Simple Maven Project

Use How to Create a Simple Maven Project in Eclipse article to create simple Maven project in Eclipse IDE.

2. Project Directory Structure

The project directory structure for your reference - 

3. Add jar Dependencies to pom.xml

 xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 http://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
        <!-- https://mvnrepository.com/artifact/mysql/mysql-connector-java -->
        <!-- https://mvnrepository.com/artifact/org.hibernate/hibernate-core -->

4. Creating the JPA Entities

Let's define the following Account base class:


package net.javaguides.hibernate.entity;

import javax.persistence.GeneratedValue;
import javax.persistence.GenerationType;
import javax.persistence.Id;
import javax.persistence.MappedSuperclass;

@Entity(name = "Account")
@Inheritance(strategy = InheritanceType.SINGLE_TABLE)
public abstract class Account {

    @GeneratedValue(strategy = GenerationType.IDENTITY)
    private Long id;

    private String owner;

    private double balance;

    private double interestRate;

    public Long getId() {
        return id;

    public void setId(Long id) {
        this.id = id;

    public String getOwner() {
        return owner;

    public void setOwner(String owner) {
        this.owner = owner;

    public double getBalance() {
        return balance;

    public void setBalance(double balance) {
        this.balance = balance;

    public double getInterestRate() {
        return interestRate;

    public void setInterestRate(double interestRate) {
        this.interestRate = interestRate;


package net.javaguides.hibernate.entity;

import javax.persistence.Entity;

@Entity(name = "CreditAccount")
public class CreditAccount extends Account {

    private double creditLimit;

    public double getCreditLimit() {
        return creditLimit;

    public void setCreditLimit(double creditLimit) {
        this.creditLimit = creditLimit;


package net.javaguides.hibernate.entity;

import javax.persistence.Entity;

@Entity(name = "DebitAccount")
public class DebitAccount extends Account {

    private double overdraftFee;

    public double getOverdraftFee() {
        return overdraftFee;

    public void setOverdraftFee(double overdraftFee) {
        this.overdraftFee = overdraftFee;

5. Create a Hibernate configuration file - hibernate.cfg.xml

The configuration file contains information about the database and mapping file. Conventionally, its name should be hibernate.cfg.xml.
Let's create an XML file named as hibernate.cfg.xml under resources folder and write the following code in it.
<!DOCTYPE hibernate-configuration PUBLIC
        "-//Hibernate/Hibernate Configuration DTD 3.0//EN"
        <!-- JDBC Database connection settings -->
        <property name="connection.driver_class">com.mysql.cj.jdbc.Driver</property>
        <property name="connection.url">jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/hibernate_db?useSSL=false</property>
        <property name="connection.username">root</property>
        <property name="connection.password">root</property>
        <!-- JDBC connection pool settings ... using built-in test pool -->
        <property name="connection.pool_size">1</property>
        <!-- Select our SQL dialect -->
        <property name="dialect">org.hibernate.dialect.MySQL5Dialect</property>
        <!-- Echo the SQL to stdout -->
        <property name="show_sql">true</property>
        <!-- Set the current session context -->
        <property name="current_session_context_class">thread</property>
        <!-- Drop and re-create the database schema on startup -->
        <property name="hbm2ddl.auto">create-drop</property>
        <!-- dbcp connection pool configuration -->
        <property name="hibernate.dbcp.initialSize">5</property>
        <property name="hibernate.dbcp.maxTotal">20</property>
        <property name="hibernate.dbcp.maxIdle">10</property>
        <property name="hibernate.dbcp.minIdle">5</property>
        <property name="hibernate.dbcp.maxWaitMillis">-1</property>
        <mapping class="net.javaguides.hibernate.entity.CreditAccount" />
 <mapping class="net.javaguides.hibernate.entity.DebitAccount" />

6. Create a Hibernate utility Class

Create a helper class to bootstrap hibernate SessionFactory. In most Hibernate applications, the SessionFactory should be instantiated once during application initialization. The single instance should then be used by all code in a particular process, and any Session should be created using this single SessionFactory. The SessionFactory is thread-safe and can be shared; a Session is a single-threaded object.
The bootstrapping API is quite flexible, but in most cases, it makes the most sense to think of it as a 3 step process:
  1. Build the StandardServiceRegistry
  2. Build the Metadata
  3. Use those 2 to build the SessionFactory
package net.javaguides.hibernate.util;

import org.hibernate.SessionFactory;
import org.hibernate.boot.Metadata;
import org.hibernate.boot.MetadataSources;
import org.hibernate.boot.registry.StandardServiceRegistry;
import org.hibernate.boot.registry.StandardServiceRegistryBuilder;

public class HibernateUtil {
    private static StandardServiceRegistry registry;
    private static SessionFactory sessionFactory;

    public static SessionFactory getSessionFactory() {
        if (sessionFactory == null) {
            try {
                // Create registry
                registry = new StandardServiceRegistryBuilder().configure().build();

                // Create MetadataSources
                MetadataSources sources = new MetadataSources(registry);

                // Create Metadata
                Metadata metadata = sources.getMetadataBuilder().build();

                // Create SessionFactory
                sessionFactory = metadata.getSessionFactoryBuilder().build();

            } catch (Exception e) {
                if (registry != null) {
        return sessionFactory;

    public static void shutdown() {
        if (registry != null) {

7. Create the main App class and Run an Application.

package net.javaguides.hibernate;

import org.hibernate.Session;
import org.hibernate.Transaction;

import net.javaguides.hibernate.entity.CreditAccount;
import net.javaguides.hibernate.entity.DebitAccount;
import net.javaguides.hibernate.util.HibernateUtil;

public class App {
    public static void main(String[] args) {

        Transaction transaction = null;
        try (Session session = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory().openSession()) {
            // start a transaction
            transaction = session.beginTransaction();
            // save the account object
            CreditAccount account = new CreditAccount();

            DebitAccount debitAccount = new DebitAccount();
            // commit transaction

        try (Session session = HibernateUtil.getSessionFactory().openSession()) {
            // start a transaction
            Transaction transaction1 = session.beginTransaction();
            // save the account object
            CreditAccount creditAccount = session.get(CreditAccount.class, 1 L);
            // commit transaction