Building a simple RIAK ORM

I've been interested in RIAK for a while, and ORM's are nothing short of fascinating. I decided to try writing an ORM for Riak, and the results are here:

My ORM is not an ORM of course, because RIAK is not relational. However it is ORM-like; I can store POJO's and retrieve them.

The features I wanted for my ORM were those that I am accustomed to with Hibernate, or eBean.

  • Ability to store POJO's and retrieve them
  • Ability to store object trees of POJO's which contain POJO's
  • Support for Lists of POJO's composed inside a POJO
  • Lazy Loading

In the end, I ended up with a ORM-like layer that can store data into any Key-Value store. There is a plugin which supports RIAK, and there is an emulated Key-Value store built on a filesystem, which is useful for development purposes. Theoretically cBean could work on any Key-Value store, such as MongoDB, but I haven't built that support yet. Adding support for a Key-Value store is as simple as implementing the the interface KVService.

Supported Types

  • All java simple types (int, String, long, etc)
  • All java wrapper types (Integer, Long, etc)
  • Contained POJOs
  • java.util.List of POJOs
  • java.util.UUID
  • java.util.Date


Similar to Hibernate or eBean, cBean POJO's must be annotated. I didn't chose to use the JPA annotations, but instead defined my own. They are here.  There numerous cBean annotated POJO's in the tests, here.


Similar to JPA, the @Entity annotation simply marks the POJO as one which is of interest to cBean.


Every POJO must have an id field and it must be a String or UUID.  The @Id field is a little different in cBean than in JPA.  Inserting a new object with the same JPA @Id as one that already exists in the RDBMS is an error.  In cBean, you simply overwrite the existing object.


The @Property is used to indicate that a specific property (simple type, wrapper type, object type or list type) will be persisted.  POJO fields without the @Property annotation are ignored.  There are a number of properties which are valid on an @Property annotation.

  • cascadeSave
  • cascadeDelete
  • cascadeLoad
  • ignore
  • nullable

cascadeSave, cascadeDelete, and cascadeDelete are only relevant for POJO fields which are themselves POJOs, or lists of POJOs.  Setting "cascadeLoad=false", naturally, indicates that the field is lazy-loaded.


An POJO can define an Integer field and annotate it with @Version.  cBean will increment the annotated field by 1 each time the POJO is saved.

Referential Integrity

Frameworks like Hibernate or eBean provide referential integrity because RDBMS's provide referential integrity.  Key-Value stores, such as RIAK do not provide referential integrity, and therefore neither does cBean.  Therefore is it entirely possible to persist a POJO which contains a POJO, and have the contained POJO be deleted underneath the parent.  In a RDBMS this can be prevented with a foreign key; there is no such protection in cBean.  Therefore application code using cBean must be aware that POJOs in lists, for example, may not be resolvable when the list is reloaded.

The strategy that cBean uses for handling broken "foreign keys" is two-fold:

  • If a POJO contains a child POJO and the child is deleted, that Object will be set to null on reload
  • If a POJO contains a list of POJO's and one of the elements is deleted, the element Object will be set to null.  The List size() will remain the same as when it was persisted.

Example Code

There is a working example at

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