Transaction support


In the world of distributed transaction processing (DTP) a series of specifications developed by OpenGroup ( represent the most widely adopted DTP model.

Opengroup specifications define major components participating in the DTP model as well as a set of APIs that define communication between these components. Components participating in the DTP model are: application programs, resource managers, and a transaction manager. The interface defined between application programs wishing to participate in global trasactions and the transaction manager is called the TX interface, while the interface between transaction managers and the resource managers is called the XA interface.

Sun Microsystems Inc followed this DTP model and as part of J2EE introduced the Java Transaction Service (JTS) and the Java Transaction API (JTA) specifications.


The difference between JTS and JTA is often a source of confusion. Simply put JTS defines above mentioned components participating in the DTP model, while JTA captures interfaces between them.

JTS defines five major players in the DTP model of Java Enterprise middleware:

Transaction Manager as a core component which provides services of transaction resource management ( i.e resource enlistment, delistment), transaction demarcation, synchronization notification callbacks, trasaction context propagation and two-phase commit initiation and recovery coordination with resource managers.

The application server provides infrastructure required to support the application run-time environment.

A resource manager is a component that manages access to a persistent stable storage system. Each resource manager cooperates with a Transaction Manager in two-phase commit intiation and failure recovery. An example of resource manager would be database driver.

EJB's can either use declarative transaction management specified in the ejb-jar.jar xml descriptor, or programmatic transaction manager using the UserTransaction interface. Either way, the transaction services are provided by the application server.

A communication resource manager supports transactional context propagation. Simply put this component allows the transaction manager to participate in transactions initiated by other transaction managers. JTS does not specify a protocol for this component.

Core implementation

Jboss includes it's support of JTS and JTA specifications in the package. This package include implementation of TransactionManager , Transaction, Xid and Synchronization from JTA specification.

However, the key class is TxCapsule. TxCapsule is has a very abstract notion but it closely matches the idea of transaction context. Transaction context in turn is best thought of as a state of all transactional operations on the participating resources that make up one global transaction . Therefore transactional context, or in Jboss's case TxCapsule, captures all participating XaResources and their states, all particiating threads as well as a global Xid identifying global transaction.

TxCapsule provides the real meat. It enables enlisting and delisting of transactional resources, importing of transactions into capsule, provides creational point and access to Xid of the current global transaction, calls Synchronization callback but most importantly it initiates the two-phase commit protocol as well as rollback mechanisms defined by the two-phase commit protocol.

TransactionImpl implements Transaction interface from JTA. Each transaction is a part of TxCapsule which in turn can "host" transactions representing the TxCapsule. All of TransactionImpl methods are basically indirection calls to the hosting TxCapsule.

TxManager implements TransactionManager interface defined in JTA. As you might have guessed by now, it controls the lifecycle of all TxCapsules. Since TxCapsule is a relatively heavyweight object, capsules are recycled in a soft reference queue.


Following the previously introduced interceptor framework JBoss introduces two transactional interceptors TXIntereceptorBMT and TXIntereceptorCMT. Both interceptors closely interact with TxManager in order to achieve proper transactional semantics.

TXIntereceptorBMT provides an instance of UserTransaction to the right transactional context. TxInterceptorBMT is used in the case of user demarcated, i.e explicit transactional management. For more information on details of semantics refer to p174 of EJB1.1 spec.

TxInterceptorCMT moves all transactional management work to the container. Depending on the transaction attributes specified in th ejb-jar.xml file (i.e TX_REQUIRED, TX_SUPPORTS, TX_REQUIRES_NEW etc) the container decides how to manage the transactional context of the invoked call.

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