5.5.3. Datasources

Datasources provide data to data-aware components.

Visual components themselves do not access Middleware: they get entity instances from linked datasources. Furthermore, one datasource can work with multiple visual components if they need the same instance or set of instances.

  • When a user changes a value in the component, the new value is set for the entity attribute in the datasource.

  • When the entity attribute is modified in the code, the new value is set and displayed in the visual component.

  • User input can be monitored both by datasource listeners and value listeners on the component – they are notified sequentially.

  • To read or write the value of an attribute in the application code, it is recommended to use the datasource, rather than the component. Below is an example of reading the attribute:

    private FieldGroup fieldGroup;
    private Datasource<Order> orderDs;
    private PickerField customerField;
    public void init(Map<String, Object> params){
        Customer customer;
        // Get customer from component: not for common use
        Component component = fieldGroup.getFieldNN("customer").getComponentNN();
        customer = ((HasValue)component).getValue();
        // Get customer from component: recommended
        customer = customerField.getValue();
        // Get customer from datasource
        customer = orderDs.getItem().getCustomer();

    As you can see, working with entity attribute values through a component is not very straightforward. In the first example, it requires type casting and specifying FieldGroup field id as a string. The second example is more safe and direct, but requires you to know exactly the type of the field to be injected. At the same time, if the instance is obtained from the datasource via the getItem() method, the values of attributes can be read and modified directly.

Datasources also track changes in entities contained therein and can send modified instances back to the middleware for storing in the database.


Typically, a visual component is bound to an attribute that directly belongs to the entity in the datasource. In the example above, the component is bound to the customer attribute of the Order entity.

A component can also be associated with an attribute of a related entity, for example, customer.name. In this case, the component will display the value of the name attribute, however when the user changes the value, the datasource listeners will not be invoked and the changes will not be saved. Therefore, it makes sense to bind the component to second-level entity attributes only if they are intended for display. For example in a Label, a Table column, or in a TextField, where editable = false.

The basic interfaces of datasources are described below.

Figure 23. Datasource interfaces
  • Datasource is a simple datasource designed to work with one entity instance. The instance is set by the setItem() method and is accessed via getItem().

    DatasourceImpl class is the standard implementation of such datasource, which is used, for instance, as a main datasource on entity edit screens.

  • CollectionDatasource is a datasource designed to work with a collection of entity instances. The collection is loaded with the invocation of the refresh() method, instance keys are accessible through the getItemIds() method. The setItem() method sets the "current" instance of the collection and getItem() returns it (for example, the one that corresponds to the currently selected table row).

    The way of loading collections is determined by implementation. The most typical one is loading from Middleware via DataManager; in this case, setQuery(), setQueryFilter() are used to form a JPQL query.

    CollectionDatasourceImpl class is the standard implementation of such datasources, which is used on screens with entity lists.

    • GroupDatasource is a subtype of CollectionDatasource, designed to work with the GroupTable component.

      Standard implementation is the GroupDatasourceImpl class.

    • HierarchicalDatasource is a subtype of CollectionDatasource, designed to work with the Tree and TreeTable components.

      Standard implementation is the HierarchicalDatasourceImpl class.

  • NestedDatasource is a datasource designed to work with instances that are loaded in an attribute of another entity. In this case, a datasource that contains a parent entity is accessible via getMaster(), and meta property that corresponds to the parent attribute containing instances of this datasource is accessible via getProperty().

    For example an Order instance which contains a reference to the Customer instance is set in the dsOrder datasource. Then, to link the Customer instance with visual components, it is enough to create NestedDatasource with dsOrder as parent and meta property to point to the Order.customer attribute.

    • PropertyDatasource is a subtype of NestedDatasource, designed to work with one instance or collection of related entities that are not embedded.

      Standard implementations: for working with one instance – PropertyDatasourceImpl, with a collection – CollectionPropertyDatasourceImpl, GroupPropertyDatasourceImpl, HierarchicalPropertyDatasourceImpl. The latter also implements the CollectionDatasource interface, however some of its irrelevant methods like setQuery() throw UnsupportedOperationException.

    • EmbeddedDatasource is a subtype of NestedDatasource, which contains an instance of an embedded entity.

      Standard implementation is the EmbeddedDatasourceImpl class.

  • RuntimePropsDatasource is a specific datasource, designed to work with dynamic attributes of entities.

Typically, datasources are declared in the dsContext section of a screen descriptor.

Automatic CollectionDatasource refresh

When the screen opens, its visual components connected to collection datasources cause the datasources to load data. As a result, tables show data right after opening the screen, without any explicit user action. If you want to prevent automatic loading of collection datasources, set the DISABLE_AUTO_REFRESH screen parameter to true in the screen’s init() method or pass it from the calling code. This parameter is defined in the WindowParams enumeration, so it can be set as shown below:

public void init(Map<String, Object> params) {
    WindowParams.DISABLE_AUTO_REFRESH.set(params, true);

In this case, the screen collection datasources will be loaded only when their refresh() method will be called. It can be done by the application code or when the user clicks Search in the Filter component.