JCache API

This section explains the JCache API by providing simple examples and use cases. While walking through the examples, we will have a look at a couple of the standard API classes and see how these classes are used.

JCache API Application Example

The code in this subsection creates a small account application by providing a caching layer over an imagined database abstraction. The database layer is simulated using a single demo data in a simple DAO interface. To show the difference between the "database" access and retrieving values from the cache, a small waiting time is used in the DAO implementation to simulate network and database latency.

Creating User Class Example

Before we implement the JCache caching layer, let’s have a quick look at some basic classes we need for this example.

The User class is the representation of a user table in the database. To keep it simple, it has just two properties: userId and username.

public class User implements Serializable {

    private int userId;
    private String username;

    public User() {

Creating DAO Interface Example

The DAO interface is also kept easy in this example. It provides a simple method to retrieve (find) a user by its userId.

public interface UserDao {

    User findUserById(int userId);
    boolean storeUser(int userId, User user);
    boolean removeUser(int userId);
    Collection<Integer> allUserIds();

Configuring JCache Example

To show most of the standard features, the configuration example is a little more complex.

// Create javax.cache.configuration.CompleteConfiguration subclass
CompleteConfiguration<Integer, User> config =
    new MutableConfiguration<Integer, User>()
        // Configure the cache to be typesafe
        .setTypes( Integer.class, User.class )
        // Configure to expire entries 30 secs after creation in the cache
        .setExpiryPolicyFactory( FactoryBuilder.factoryOf(
            new AccessedExpiryPolicy( new Duration( TimeUnit.SECONDS, 30 ) )
        ) )
        // Configure read-through of the underlying store
        .setReadThrough( true )
        // Configure write-through to the underlying store
        .setWriteThrough( true )
        // Configure the javax.cache.integration.CacheLoader
        .setCacheLoaderFactory( FactoryBuilder.factoryOf(
            new UserCacheLoader( userDao )
        ) )
        // Configure the javax.cache.integration.CacheWriter
        .setCacheWriterFactory( FactoryBuilder.factoryOf(
            new UserCacheWriter( userDao )
        ) )
        // Configure the javax.cache.event.CacheEntryListener with no
        // javax.cache.event.CacheEntryEventFilter, to include old value
        // and to be executed synchronously
            new MutableCacheEntryListenerConfiguration<Integer, User>(
                new UserCacheEntryListenerFactory(),
                null, true, true

Let’s go through this configuration line by line.

Setting the Cache Type and Expire Policy

First, we set the expected types for the cache, which is already known from the previous example. On the next line, a javax.cache.expiry.ExpiryPolicy is configured. Almost all integration ExpiryPolicy implementations are configured using javax.cache.configuration.Factory instances. Factory and FactoryBuilder are explained later in this chapter.

Configuring Read-Through and Write-Through

The next two lines configure the thread that are read-through and write-through to the underlying backend resource that is configured over the next few lines. The JCache API offers javax.cache.integration.CacheLoader and javax.cache.integration.CacheWriter to implement adapter classes to any kind of backend resource, e.g., JPA, JDBC, or any other backend technology implementable in Java. The interface provides the typical CRUD operations like create, get, update, delete and some bulk operation versions of those common operations. We will look into the implementation of those implementations later.

Configuring Entry Listeners

The last configuration setting defines entry listeners based on sub-interfaces of javax.cache.event.CacheEntryListener. This config does not use a javax.cache.event.CacheEntryEventFilter since the listener is meant to be fired on every change that happens on the cache. Again we will look in the implementation of the listener in later in this chapter.

Full Example Code

A full running example that is presented in this subsection is available in the code samples repository. The application is built to be a command line app. It offers a small shell to accept different commands. After startup, you can enter help to see all available commands and their descriptions.

JCache Base Classes

In the Example JCache Application section, we have already seen a couple of the base classes and explained how those work. The following are quick descriptions of them:


The access point into the JCache API. It retrieves the general CachingProvider backed by any compliant JCache implementation, such as Hazelcast JCache.


The SPI that is implemented to bridge between the JCache API and the implementation itself. Hazelcast members and clients use different providers chosen as seen in the Configuring JCache Provider section which enable the JCache API to interact with Hazelcast clusters.

When a javax.cache.spi.CachingProvider.getCacheManager() overload that takes a java.lang.ClassLoader argument is used, this classloader will be a part of the scope of the created java.cache.Cache, and it is not possible to retrieve it on other members. We advise not to use those overloads, as they are not meant to be used in distributed environments!


The CacheManager provides the capability to create new and manage existing JCache caches.

A javax.cache.Cache instance created with key and value types in the configuration provides a type checking of those types at retrieval of the cache. For that reason, all non-types retrieval methods like getCache throw an exception because types cannot be checked.

javax.cache.configuration.Configuration, javax.cache.configuration.MutableConfiguration:

These two classes are used to configure a cache prior to retrieving it from a CacheManager. The Configuration interface, therefore, acts as a common super type for all compatible configuration classes such as MutableConfiguration.

Hazelcast itself offers a special implementation (com.hazelcast.config.CacheConfig) of the Configuration interface which offers more options on the specific Hazelcast properties that can be set to configure features like synchronous and asynchronous backups counts or selecting the underlying in-memory format of the cache. For more information on this configuration class, see the reference in the JCache Programmatic Configuration section.


This interface represents the cache instance itself. It is comparable to java.util.Map but offers special operations dedicated to the caching use case. Therefore, for example javax.cache.Cache.put(), unlike java.util.Map.put(), does not return the old value previously assigned to the given key.

Bulk operations on the Cache interface guarantee atomicity per entry but not over all given keys in the same bulk operations since no transactional behavior is applied over the whole batch process.

Implementing Factory and FactoryBuilder

The javax.cache.configuration.Factory implementations configure features like CacheEntryListener, ExpiryPolicy and CacheLoaders or CacheWriters. These factory implementations are required to distribute the different features to members in a cluster environment like Hazelcast. Therefore, these factory implementations have to be serializable.

Factory implementations are easy to do, as they follow the default Provider- or Factory-Pattern. The example class UserCacheEntryListenerFactory shown below implements a custom JCache Factory.

public class UserCacheEntryListenerFactory implements Factory<CacheEntryListener<Integer, User>> {

    public CacheEntryListener<Integer, User> create() {
        // just create a new listener instance
        return new UserCacheEntryListener();

To simplify the process for the users, JCache API offers a set of helper methods collected in javax.cache. configuration.FactoryBuilder. In the above configuration example, FactoryBuilder.factoryOf() creates a singleton factory for the given instance.

Implementing CacheLoader

javax.cache.integration.CacheLoader loads cache entries from any external backend resource.

Cache read-through

If the cache is configured to be read-through, then CacheLoader.load() is called transparently from the cache when the key or the value is not yet found in the cache. If no value is found for a given key, it returns null.

If the cache is not configured to be read-through, nothing is loaded automatically. The user code must call javax.cache.Cache.loadAll() to load data for the given set of keys into the cache.

For the bulk load operation (loadAll()), some keys may not be found in the returned result set. In this case, a javax.cache.integration.CompletionListener parameter can be used as an asynchronous callback after all the key-value pairs are loaded because loading many key-value pairs can take lots of time.

CacheLoader Example

Let’s look at the UserCacheLoader implementation. This implementation is quite straight forward.

  • It implements CacheLoader.

  • It overrides the load method to compute or retrieve the value corresponding to key.

  • It overrides the loadAll method to compute or retrieve the values corresponding to keys.

An important note is that any kind of exception has to be wrapped into javax.cache.integration.CacheLoaderException.

public class UserCacheLoader implements CacheLoader<Integer, User>, Serializable {

    private final UserDao userDao;

    public UserCacheLoader(UserDao userDao) {
        // store the dao instance created externally
        this.userDao = userDao;

    public User load(Integer key) throws CacheLoaderException {
        // just call through into the dao
        return userDao.findUserById(key);

    public Map<Integer, User> loadAll(Iterable<? extends Integer> keys) throws CacheLoaderException {
        // create the resulting map
        Map<Integer, User> loaded = new HashMap<Integer, User>();
        // for every key in the given set of keys
        for (Integer key : keys) {
            // try to retrieve the user
            User user = userDao.findUserById(key);
            // if user is not found do not add the key to the result set
            if (user != null) {
                loaded.put(key, user);
        return loaded;


You use a javax.cache.integration.CacheWriter to update an external backend resource. If the cache is configured to be write-through, this process is executed transparently to the user’s code. Otherwise, there is currently no way to trigger writing changed entries to the external resource to a user-defined point in time.

If bulk operations throw an exception, java.util.Collection has to be cleaned of all successfully written keys so the cache implementation can determine what keys are written and can be applied to the cache state.

The following example performs the following tasks:

  • It implements CacheWriter.

  • It overrides the write method to write the specified entry to the underlying store.

  • It overrides the writeAll method to write the specified entires to the underlying store.

  • It overrides the delete method to delete the key entry from the store.

  • It overrides the deleteAll method to delete the data and keys from the underlying store for the given collection of keys, if present.

public class UserCacheWriter implements CacheWriter<Integer, User>, Serializable {

    private final UserDao userDao;

    public UserCacheWriter(UserDao userDao) {
        // store the dao instance created externally
        this.userDao = userDao;

    public void write(Cache.Entry<? extends Integer, ? extends User> entry) throws CacheWriterException {
        // store the user using the dao
        userDao.storeUser(entry.getKey(), entry.getValue());

    public void writeAll(Collection<Cache.Entry<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> entries) throws CacheWriterException {
        // retrieve the iterator to clean up the collection from written keys in case of an exception
        Iterator<Cache.Entry<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> iterator = entries.iterator();
        while (iterator.hasNext()) {
            // write entry using dao
            // remove from collection of keys

    public void delete(Object key) throws CacheWriterException {
        // test for key type
        if (!(key instanceof Integer)) {
            throw new CacheWriterException("Illegal key type");
        // remove user using dao
        userDao.removeUser((Integer) key);

    public void deleteAll(Collection<?> keys) throws CacheWriterException {
        // retrieve the iterator to clean up the collection from written keys in case of an exception
        Iterator<?> iterator = keys.iterator();
        while (iterator.hasNext()) {
            // write entry using dao
            // remove from collection of keys

Again, the implementation is pretty straightforward and also as above all exceptions thrown by the external resource, like java.sql.SQLException has to be wrapped into a javax.cache.integration.CacheWriterException. Note this is a different exception from the one thrown by CacheLoader.

Implementing EntryProcessor

With javax.cache.processor.EntryProcessor, you can apply an atomic function to a cache entry. In a distributed environment like Hazelcast, you can move the mutating function to the member that owns the key. If the value object is big, it might prevent traffic by sending the object to the mutator and sending it back to the owner to update it.

By default, Hazelcast JCache sends the complete changed value to the backup partition. Again, this can cause a lot of traffic if the object is big. The Hazelcast ICache extension can also prevent this. Further information is available at Implementing BackupAwareEntryProcessor.

An arbitrary number of arguments can be passed to the Cache.invoke() and Cache.invokeAll() methods. All of those arguments need to be fully serializable because in a distributed environment like Hazelcast, it is very likely that these arguments have to be passed around the cluster.

The following example performs the following tasks.

  • It implements EntryProcessor.

  • It overrides the process method to process an entry.

public class UserUpdateEntryProcessor implements EntryProcessor<Integer, User, User> {

    public User process(MutableEntry<Integer, User> entry, Object... arguments) throws EntryProcessorException {
        // test arguments length
        if (arguments.length < 1) {
            throw new EntryProcessorException("One argument needed: username");

        // get first argument and test for String type
        Object argument = arguments[0];
        if (!(argument instanceof String)) {
            throw new EntryProcessorException("First argument has wrong type, required java.lang.String");

        // retrieve the value from the MutableEntry
        User user = entry.getValue();

        // retrieve the new username from the first argument
        String newUsername = (String) arguments[0];

        // set the new username

        // set the changed user to mark the entry as dirty

        // return the changed user to return it to the caller
        return user;
By executing the bulk Cache.invokeAll() operation, atomicity is only guaranteed for a single cache entry. No transactional rules are applied to the bulk operation.
JCache EntryProcessor implementations are not allowed to call javax.cache.Cache methods. This prevents operations from deadlocking between different calls.

In addition, when using a Cache.invokeAll() method, a java.util.Map is returned that maps the key to its javax.cache.processor.EntryProcessorResult, which itself wraps the actual result or a thrown javax.cache.processor.EntryProcessorException.


The javax.cache.event.CacheEntryListener implementation is straight forward. CacheEntryListener is a super-interface that is used as a marker for listener classes in JCache. The specification brings a set of sub-interfaces.

  • CacheEntryCreatedListener: Fires after a cache entry is added (even on read-through by a CacheLoader) to the cache.

  • CacheEntryUpdatedListener: Fires after an already existing cache entry updates.

  • CacheEntryRemovedListener: Fires after a cache entry was removed (not expired) from the cache.

  • CacheEntryExpiredListener: Fires after a cache entry has been expired. Expiry does not have to be a parallel process-- Hazelcast JCache implementation detects and removes expired entries periodically. Therefore, the expiration event may not be fired as soon as the entry expires. See ExpiryPolicy for details.

To configure CacheEntryListener, add a javax.cache.configuration.CacheEntryListenerConfiguration instance to the JCache configuration class, as seen in the above example configuration. In addition, listeners can be configured to be executed synchronously (blocking the calling thread) or asynchronously (fully running in parallel).

In this example application, the listener is implemented to print event information on the console. That visualizes what is going on in the cache. This application performs the following tasks:

  • It implements the CacheEntryCreatedListener.onCreated method to call after an entry is created.

  • It implements the CacheEntryUpdatedListener.onUpdated method to call after an entry is updated.

  • It implements the CacheEntryRemovedListener.onRemoved method to call after an entry is removed.

  • It implements the CacheEntryExpiredListener.onExpired method to call after an entry expires.

  • It implements printEvents to print event information on the console.

class UserCacheEntryListener implements CacheEntryCreatedListener<Integer, User>,
        CacheEntryUpdatedListener<Integer, User>,
        CacheEntryRemovedListener<Integer, User>,
        CacheEntryExpiredListener<Integer, User> {

    public void onCreated(Iterable<CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> cacheEntryEvents)
            throws CacheEntryListenerException {


    public void onUpdated(Iterable<CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> cacheEntryEvents)
            throws CacheEntryListenerException {


    public void onRemoved(Iterable<CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> cacheEntryEvents)
            throws CacheEntryListenerException {


    public void onExpired(Iterable<CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> cacheEntryEvents)
            throws CacheEntryListenerException {


    private void printEvents(Iterable<CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User>> cacheEntryEvents) {
        for (CacheEntryEvent<? extends Integer, ? extends User> event : cacheEntryEvents) {


In JCache, javax.cache.expiry.ExpiryPolicy implementations are used to automatically expire cache entries based on different rules.

JCache does not require expired entries to be removed from the cache immediately. It only enforces that expired entries are not returned from cache. Therefore, exact time of removal is implementation specific. Hazelcast complies JCache by checking the entries for expiration at the time of get operations (lazy expiration). In addition to that, Hazelcast uses a periodic task to detect and remove expired entries as soon as possible (eager expiration). Thanks to eager expiry, all expired entries are removed from the memory eventually even when they are not touched again. So the space used by such entries are released as well.

For a detailed explanation of interaction between expiry policies and JCache API, see the table in the Expiry Policies section of JCache documentation.

Expiry timeouts are defined using javax.cache.expiry.Duration, which is a pair of java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit, that describes a time unit and a long, defining the timeout value. The minimum allowed TimeUnit is TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS. The long value durationAmount must be equal or greater than zero. A value of zero (or Duration.ZERO) indicates that the cache entry expires immediately.

By default, JCache delivers a set of predefined expiry strategies in the standard API.

  • AccessedExpiryPolicy: Expires after a given set of time measured from creation of the cache entry. The expiry timeout is updated on accessing the key.

  • CreatedExpiryPolicy: Expires after a given set of time measured from creation of the cache entry. The expiry timeout is never updated.

  • EternalExpiryPolicy: Never expires. This is the default behavior, similar to ExpiryPolicy being set to null.

  • ModifiedExpiryPolicy: Expires after a given set of time measured from creation of the cache entry. The expiry timeout is updated on updating the key.

  • TouchedExpiryPolicy: Expires after a given set of time measured from creation of the cache entry. The expiry timeout is updated on accessing or updating the key.

Because EternalExpiryPolicy does not expire cache entries, it is still possible to evict values from memory if an underlying CacheLoader is defined.