EJB Interview Questions and Answers

Q1. What is EJB?
EJB stands for Enterprise Java Beans. EJB is an essential part of a J2EE platform. J2EE platform have component based architecture to provide multi-tiered, distributed and highly transactional features to enterprise level applications.
EJB provides an architecture to develop and deploy component based enterprise applications considering robustness, high scalability and high performance. An EJB application can be deployed on any of the application server compliant with J2EE 1.3 standard specification.

Q2. What are the different kinds of enterprise beans?
1.Stateless session bean- An instance of these non-persistent EJBs provides a service without storing an interaction or conversation state between methods. Any instance can be used for any client.
2.Stateful session bean
– An instance of these non-persistent EJBs maintains state across methods and transactions. Each instance is associated with a particular client.
3.Entity bean
– An instance of these persistent EJBs represents an object view of the data, usually rows in a database. They have a primary key as a unique identifier. Entity bean persistence can be either container-managed or bean-managed. 
4.Message-driven bean-
An instance of these EJBs is integrated with the Java Message Service (JMS) to provide the ability for message-driven beans to act as a standard JMS message consumer and perform asynchronous processing between the server and the JMS message producer

Q3. What is a EJB call?
EJB Calls from Servlets. A servlet can call Enterprise JavaBeans to perform additional processing. A typical application design often uses servlets as a front-end to do the initial processing of client requests, with EJBs being called to perform the business logic that accesses or updates a database.

Q4. What is JMS?
Java Message Service is a messaging service to create, send and receive messages asynchronously.

Q5. What are the benefits of EJB?>
Following are the key benefits of EJB.

  • Simplified development of large scale enterprise level application.
  • Application Server/ EJB container provides most of the system level services like transaction handling, logging, load balancing, persistence mechanism, exception handling and so on. Developer has to focus only on business logic of the application.
  • EJB container manages life cycle of ejb instances thus developer needs not to worry about when to create/delete ejb objects.

Q6. What is meant by EJB container?
It manages and coordinates the allocation of resources to the applications. Enterprise beans typically contain the business logic for a J2EE application. TheEJB server must provide one or more EJB containers. An EJB container manages the enterprise beans contained within it.

Q7. What is software architecture of EJB?
Session and Entity EJBs consist of 4 and 5 parts respetively:
1. A remote interface (a client interacts with it),
2. A home interface (used for creating objects and for declaring business methods),
3. A bean object (an object, which actually performs business logic and EJB-specific operations).
4. A deployment descriptor (an XML file containing all information required for maintaining the EJB) or a set of deployment descriptors (if you are using some container-specific features).
5.A Primary Key class – is only Entity bean specific

Q8. What is meant by POJO class in Java?
Acronym for Plain Old Java Object. POJO, or Plain Old Java Object, is a normalJava object class (that is, not a JavaBean, EntityBean etc.) and does not serve any other special role nor does it implement any special interfaces of any of the Javaframeworks.
Following are the key components of persistence API in EJB:

  • Entity – A persistent object representing the data-store record. It is good to be serializable.
  • EntityManager – Persistence interface to do data operations like add/delete/update/find on persistent object(entity). It also helps to execute queries using Query interface.
  • Persistence unit (persistence.xml) – Persistence unit describes the properties of persistence mechanism.
  • Data Source (*ds.xml) – Data Source describes the data-store related properties like connection url. user-name,password etc.

Q10. What are transaction attributes? 
The transaction attribute specifies how the Container must manage transactions for a method when a client invokes the method via the enterprise bean’s home or component interface or when the method is invoked as the result of the arrival of a JMS message. (Sun’s EJB Specification) Below is a list of transactional attributes:

1. NotSupported – transaction context is unspecified.
2. Required – bean’s method invocation is made within a transactional context. If a client is not associated with a transaction, a new transaction is invoked automatically.
3. Supports – if a transactional context exists, a Container acts like the transaction attribute is Required, else – like NotSupported.
4. RequiresNew – a method is invoked in a new transaction context.
5. Mandatory – if a transactional context exists, a Container acts like the transaction attribute is Required, else it throws a javax.ejb.TransactionRequiredException.
6. Never – a method executes only if no transaction context is specified.

Q11. What are the methods of Entity Bean?
An entity bean consists of 4 groups of methods:
1create methods: To create a new instance of a CMP entity bean, and therefore insert data into the database, the create() method on the bean’s home interface must be invoked. They look like this: EntityBeanClass ejbCreateXXX(parameters), where EntityBeanClass is an Entity Bean you are trying to instantiate, ejbCreateXXX(parameters) methods are used for creating Entity Bean instances according to the parameters specified and to some programmer-defined conditions.
A bean’s home interface may declare zero or more create() methods, each of which must have corresponding ejbCreate() and ejbPostCreate() methods in the bean class. These creation methods are linked at run time, so that when a create() method is invoked on the home interface, the container delegates the invocation to the corresponding ejbCreate() and ejbPostCreate() methods on the bean class.
2finder methods: The methods in the home interface that begin with “find” are called the find methods. These are used to query the EJB server for specific entity beans, based on the name of the method and arguments passed. Unfortunately, there is no standard query language defined for find methods, so each vendor will implement the find method differently. In CMP entity beans, the find methods are not implemented with matching methods in the bean class; containers implement them when the bean is deployed in a vendor specific manner. The deployer will use vendor specific tools to tell the container how a particular find method should behave. Some vendors will use object-relational mapping tools to define the behavior of a find method while others will simply require the deployer to enter the appropriate SQL command.
There are two basic kinds of find methods: single-entity and multi-entity. Single-entity find methods return a remote reference to the one specific entity bean that matches the find request. If no entity beans are found, the method throws an ObjectNotFoundException . Every entity bean must define the single-entity find method with the method name findByPrimaryKey(), which takes the bean’s primary key type as an argument.
The multi-entity find methods return a collection ( Enumeration or Collection type) of entities that match the find request. If no entities are found, the multi-entity find returns an empty collection.
3remove methods: These methods (you may have up to 2 remove methods, or don’t have them at all) allow the client to physically remove Entity beans by specifying either Handle or a Primary Key for the Entity Bean.
4home methods: These methods are designed and implemented by a developer, and EJB specification doesn’t have any requirements for them except the need to throw a RemoteException is each home method.

Q12. Can I develop an Entity Bean without implementing the create() method in the home interface?
As per the specifications, there can be ‘ZERO’ or ‘MORE’ create() methods defined in an Entity Bean. In cases where create() method is not provided, the only way to access the bean is by knowing its primary key, and by acquiring a handle to it by using its corresponding finder method. In those cases, you can create an instance of a bean based on the data present in the table. All one needs to know is the primary key of that table. i.e. a set a columns that uniquely identify a single row in that table. Once this is known, one can use the ‘getPrimaryKey()’ to get a remote reference to that bean, which can further be used to invoke business methods.

Q13. Why an onMessage call in Message-driven bean is always a seperate transaction?
EJB 2.0 specification: “An onMessage call is always a separate transaction, because there is never a transaction in progress when the method is called.”

Q14. When a message arrives, it is passed to the Message Driven Bean through the onMessage() method, that is where the business logic goes.
Since there is no guarantee when the method is called and when the message will be processed, is the container that is responsible of managing the environment, including transactions.

Q15. What is clustering?
Clustering is grouping machines together to transparantly provide enterprise services. Clustering is an essential piece to solving the needs for today’s large websites.
The client does not know the difference between approaching one server or approaching a cluster of servers

Q16. Why are ejbActivate() and ejbPassivate() included for stateless session bean even though they are never required as it is a nonconversational bean?
To have a consistent interface, so that there is no different interface that you need to implement for Stateful Session Bean and Stateless Session Bean.
Both Stateless and Stateful Session Bean implement javax.ejb.SessionBean and this would not be possible if stateless session bean is to remove ejbActivate and ejbPassivate from the interface.

Q17. Static variables in EJB should not be relied upon as they may break in clusters.Why?
Static variables are only ok if they are final. If they are not final, they will break the cluster. What that means is that if you cluster your application server (spread it across several machines) each part of the cluster will run in its own JVM.
Say a method on the EJB is invoked on cluster 1 (we will have two clusters – 1 and 2) that causes value of the static variable to be increased to 101. On the subsequent call to the same EJB from the same client, a cluster 2 may be invoked to handle the request. A value of the static variable in cluster 2 is still 100 because it was not increased yet and therefore your application ceases to be consistent. Therefore, static non-final variables are strongly discouraged in EJBs.

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