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Programming WebLogic Enterprise JavaBeans

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Session EJBs

This section describes how session beans work within the EJB container, and provides design and development guidelines that are specific to session beans. For a description of the overall bean development process, see Implementing Enterprise Java Beans.

It is assumed that the reader is familiar with Java programming and session bean features and capabilities. For an introduction to session bean features and how they are typically used in applications, see Session EJBs Implement Business Logic and Session Bean Features.

The following sections describe the session bean life-cycle, design considerations, and instructions for key implementation tasks.


Comparing Stateless and Stateful Session Beans

This section looks at the key differences between stateless and stateful session beans.

Table 5-1 Comparing Stateless and Stateful Session Beans

Stateless Session Beans

Stateful Sessions Beans

Are pooled in memory, to save the overhead of creating a bean every time one is needed. WebLogic Server uses a bean instance when needed and puts it back in the pool when the work is complete.

Stateless sessions beans provide faster performance than stateful beans.

Each client creates a new instance of a bean, and eventually removes it. Instances may be passivated to disk if the cache fills up.

An application issues an ejbRemove() to remove the bean from the cache.

Stateful sessions beans do not perform as well as stateless sessions beans.

Have no identity and no client association; they are anonymous.

Are bound to particular client instances.Each bean has an implicit identity. Each time a client interacts with a stateful session bean during a session, it is the same object.

Do not persist. The bean has no state between calls.

Persist. A stateful session bean's state is preserved for the duration of a session.

See Choosing Between Stateless and Stateful Beans for a discussion of when to use which type of session bean.


Pooling for Stateless Session EJBs

By default, no stateless session EJB instances exist in WebLogic Server at startup time. As individual beans are invoked, WebLogic Server initializes new instances of the EJB.

However, in a production environment, WebLogic Server can provide improved performance and throughput for stateless session EJBs by maintaining a free pool of unbound stateless session EJBs—instances that are not currently processing a method call. If an unbound instance is available to serve a request, response time improves, because the request does not have to wait for an instance to be created. The free pool improves performance by reusing objects and skipping container callbacks when it can.

Upon startup, WebLogic Server automatically creates and populates the free pool with the quantity of instances you specify in the bean's initial-beans-in-free-pool deployment element in the weblogic-ejb-jar.xml file. By default, initial-beans-in-free-pool is set to 0.

The following figure illustrates the WebLogic Server free pool, and the processes by which stateless EJBs enter and leave the pool. Dotted lines indicate the "state" of the EJB from the perspective of WebLogic Server.

Figure 5-1 WebLogic Server Free Pool Showing Stateless Session EJB Life CycleStateful Session EJB Life Cycle

If you configure a pool, WebLogic Server will service method calls with an EJB instance from the free pool, if one is available. The EJB remains active for the duration of the client's method call. After the method completes, the EJB instance is returned to the free pool. Because WebLogic Server unbinds stateless session beans from clients after each method call, the actual bean class instance that a client uses may be different from invocation to invocation.

If all instances of an EJB class are active and max-beans-in-free-pool has been reached, new clients requesting the EJB class will be blocked until an active EJB completes a method call. If the transaction times out (or, for non-transactional calls, if five minutes elapse), WebLogic Server throws a RemoteException for a remote client or an EJBException for a local client.

Note: The maximum size of the free pool is limited by the value of the max-beans-in-free-pool element, available memory, or the number of execute threads.

When an application requests a bean instance from the free pool, there are three possible outcomes:


Caching and Passivating Stateful Session EJBs

WebLogic Server uses a cache of bean instances to improve the performance of stateful session EJBs. The cache stores active EJB instances in memory so that they are immediately available for client requests. The cache contains EJBs that are currently in use by a client and instances that were recently in use. Stateful session beans in cache are bound to a particular client.

The following figure illustrates the WebLogic Server cache, and the processes by which stateful EJBs enter and leave the cache.

Figure 5-2 Stateful Session EJB Life Cycle

Stateful Session EJB Life Cycle



Stateful Session EJB Creation

No stateful session EJB instances exist in WebLogic Server at startup. Before a client begins accessing a stateful session bean, it creates a new bean instance to use during its session with the bean. When the session is over the instance is destroyed. While the session is in progress, the instance is cached in memory.

Stateful Session EJB Passivation

Passivation is the process by which WebLogic Server removes an EJB instance from cache while preserving its state on disk. While passivated, EJBs are not in memory and are not immediately available for client requests, as they are when in the cache.

The EJB developer must ensure that a call to the ejbPassivate() method leaves a stateful session bean in a condition such that WebLogic Server can serialize its data and passivate the instance. During passivation, WebLogic Server attempts to serialize any fields that are not declared transient. This means that you must ensure that all non-transient fields represent serializable objects, such as the bean's remote or home interface. EJB 2.1 specifies the field types that are allowed.

Controlling Passivation

The rules that govern the passivation of stateful session beans vary, based on the value of the beans cache-type element, which can be:

The idle-timeout-seconds and max-beans-in-cache elements also affect passivation and removal behaviors, based on the value of cache-type.

Eager Passivation (LRU)

When you configure eager passivation for a stateful session bean by setting cache-type to LRU, the container passivates instances to disk:

The container removes a passivated instance from disk after it has been inactive for idle-timeout-seconds after passivation. This is referred to as a lazy remove.

Lazy Passivation (NRU)

When lazy passivation is configured by setting cache-type to NRU, the container avoids passivating beans, because of the associated systems overhead—pressure on the cache is the only event that causes passivation or eager removal of beans.

The container:

Managing EJB Cache Size

For a discussion of managing cache size to optimize performance in a production environment see Setting EJB Cache Size in WebLogic Server Performance and Tuning.

Specifying the Persistent Store Directory for Passivated Beans

When a stateful session bean is passivated, its state is stored in a file system directory. Each server instance has its own directory for storing the state of passivated stateful session beans, known as the persistent store directory. The persistent store directory contains one subdirectory for each passivated bean.

The persistent store directory is created by default in the server instance directory, for example:


The path to the persistence store is:



The persistent store directory contains a subdirectory, named with a hash code, for each passivated bean. For example, the subdirectory for a passivated bean in the example above might be:


Configuring Concurrent Access to Stateful Session Beans

In accordance with the EJB 2.0 specification, simultaneous access to a stateful session EJB results in a RemoteException. This access restriction on stateful session EJBs applies whether the EJB client is remote or internal to WebLogic Server. To override this restriction and configure a stateful session bean to allow concurrent calls, set the allow-concurrent-calls deployment element.

If multiple servlet classes access a stateful session EJB, each servlet thread (rather than each instance of the servlet class) must have its own session EJB instance. To prevent concurrent access, a JSP/servlet can use a stateful session bean in request scope.


Design Decisions for Session Beans

This section discusses some design decisions relevant to session beans.

Choosing Between Stateless and Stateful Beans

Stateless session beans are a good choice if your application does not need to maintain state for a particular client between business method calls. WebLogic Server is multi-threaded, servicing multiple clients simultaneously. With stateless session beans, the EJB container is free to use any available, pooled bean instance to service a client request, rather than reserving an instance for each client for the duration of a session. This results in greater resource utilization, scalability and throughput.

Stateless session beans are preferred for their light-weight implementation. They are a good choice if your application's beans perform autonomous, distinct tasks without bean-to-bean interaction.

Stateful session beans are a good choice if you need to preserve the bean's state for the duration of the session.

For examples of applications of stateless and stateful session beans, see Stateless Session Beans and Stateful Session Beans.

Choosing the Optimal Free Pool Setting for Stateless Session Beans

When you choose values for initial-beans-in-free-pool and max-beans-in-free-pool you must weigh memory consumption against slowing down your application. If the number of stateless session bean instances is too high, the free pool contains inactive instances that consume memory. If the number is too low, a client may not obtain an instance when it needs it. This leads to client threads blocking until an instance frees up, slowing down the application.

Usually max-beans-in-free-pool should be equal to the number of worker threads in the server instance, so that when a thread tries to do work an instance is available.


Implementing Session Beans

Implementing Enterprise Java Beans, takes you through session bean implementation step-by-step. This section explains the details of configuring WebLogic-Server specific session bean behavior by setting bean-specific deployment descriptor elements.

WebLogic-Specific Configurable Behaviors for Session Beans

Table 5-2 summarizes the deployment descriptor elements you set to configure the behavior of a stateless session bean and how the bean behaves if you do not configure the element. All of the elements listed are sub-elements of the stateless-session-descriptor element in weblogic-ejb-jar.xml.

Table 5-3 summarizes the deployment descriptor elements you set to configure the behavior of a stateful session bean and how the bean behaves if you do not configure the element. All of the elements listed are sub-elements of the stateful-session-descriptor element in weblogic-ejb-jar.xml.

Table 5-2 WebLogic-Specific Features for Stateless Session EJBs

To control

Set the following weblogic-ejb-jar.xml element(s)

Default behavior

The number of inactive instances of a stateless session bean that exist in WebLogic Server when it is started.

See Pooling for Stateless Session EJBs.


WebLogic Server creates 0 beans in the free pool.

The maximum size of the free pool of inactive stateless session beans.


WebLogic Server limits the maximum number of beans in the free pool to 1000.

How WebLogic Server replicates stateless session EJB instances in a cluster.

See Reliability and Availability Features.









The EJB can be deployed to multiple servers in a cluster.

Table 5-3 WebLogic-Specific Features for Stateful Session EJBs


weblogic-ejb-jar.xml element


Whether multiple clients can simultaneously access a bean without triggering a Remote Exception.

See Configuring Concurrent Access to Stateful Session Beans.


False—The server throws a RemoteException when a stateful session bean instance is currently handling a method call and another (concurrent) method call arrives on the server.

Whether the EJB container can remove a stateful session bean within a transaction context without provoking an error.


False—The server throws an exception when a stateful session bean is removed within a transaction context.

The number of stateful been instances that can exist in cache.



The period of inactivity before a stateful session bean instance remains in cache (given that max-beans-in-cache has not been reached), and after passivation, remains on disk.


600 seconds

The rules for removing a stateful session bean instance from the cache.


NRU (not recently used)—For a description of this behavior, see Lazy Passivation (NRU).

Where WebLogic Server stores the state of passivated stateful session bean instances.


To support method failover, specify the idempotent methods for a clustered EJB. An idempotent method can be repeated with no negative side-effects.



Custom class to be used for routing home method calls.



Indicates if the bean home can be clustered.



Algorithm to use for load-balancing among replicas of the bean home.


Algorithm specified by the property weblogic.cluster.

Indicates the replication used for stateful session beans in a cluster: in-memory or none.




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