My current project is slowly moving from JDBC-based database interaction to JPA-based. Following good sense, I'm trying to change things as little as possible. One of those things is that we are deploying under Tomcat and not under a full-blown J2EE container. This means that EJB3 is out. After my post regarding this configuration, I quickly realized that my code started to get littered with:
Pretty ugly, and seriously annoying to have to add 13 lines of code to any method that needs to interact with the database. The Hibernate docs suggest using ThreadLocal variables to provide access to the EntityManager throughout the life of a request (which wouldn't really work for a Swing app, but since this is servlet-based, it should work fine). The ThreadLocal javadocs contain possibly the most annoying example ever, and I didn't follow how to use it.
Anyway, I finally got around to it, and also solved the close problem as well, by using a Servlet Filter. I guess this type of thing would normally be solvable by Spring or Guice, but I didn't want to drag all of that into the application to refactor this one thing; I would've easily spent the rest of the day dealing with XML confihuration and deployment.
The solution was quite simple:
So, when the web app gets deployed, the entity manager factory is created (and closed when the web app is removed). Each thread that calls EntityManagerUtil to get an EntityManager gets a fresh one that persists for the duration of the request. When the request is completed, the entity manager is closed automatically.