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NOTE: This is just a proposal. There is no guarantee that any of this will ever end up in the actual codebase, I just felt it was worth experimenting. -JR

Update (09-05-2007): I've made this work successfully for Collections, Items, and Bundles. The performance improvements aren't fully implemented, but the separation is there, and in theory, that was the hard part. The ArchiveManager seems to be working pretty well too. -JR

Update (11-05-2007): I've implemented DAOs for the Community class as well. The ArchiveManager now supports moving Items, Collection_, and_ Communities between containers. -JR

Update (23-05-2007): I've totally reimplemented persistent identifiers in DSpace as well (see PersistentIdentifiers ). As well as removing the Handle System dependency, they also use DAOs. -JR

Update (20-06-2007): After a bit of a hiatus while I PersistentIdentifiers I've come back to DAOs, and I've now (mostly) got them in place for Bitstreams as well. The two major classes that still need doing are EPerson and Group_; once they're done, there are a few others (eg:_ SupervisedItem_,_ WorkspaceItem_, etc) but they should be relatively simple._ -JR

Just adding a comment that Handle/Pid management could be greatly improved by such an addition as well. currently with item caching, the DSpaceObject.getHandle method can become stale and using DAO's behind the scene for the HandleManagement might be beneficial -- Mark Diggory 13:56, 10 May 2007 (EDT)

Update (14-08-2007): Everything (apart from the code in org.dspace.checker_) has been pushed through the DAO layer. Non-DAO classes no longer_ import the DatabaseManager or throw SQLExceptions. There are interfaces for CRUD and link operations in that I intend to write some tests to for throwing at all the implementing DAOs. -JR

It has often struck me that DSpace would benefit from the use of Data Access Objects (DAO). If nothing else, it would make porting to alternative database platforms far easier; all we would need to do is provide alternative implementations for the DAO interfaces that worked for a given database. To this end, I have broken up some of the core classes in org.dspace.content to use DAOs.

As part of the same effort, I have done some work on making the Context less data-layer dependent (by having it hold a rather than a java.sql.Connection, etc). I've also introduced a proxy for the Item that is a bit smarter about when it retrieves content from the data layer, and an ArchiveManager class that takes care of some core "archive operations" (so that other core classes don't need to).

The process to integration (if at all) would go as follows:

  • Incorporate the new DAO classes into the codebase
  • Refactor org.dspace.content.Item (etc) to use the DAO implementations of the data access methods internally
  • Mark relevant methods in org.dspace.content.Item as @Deprecated
  • Using the compile-time deprecation warnings as a guide, refactor the rest of the code to use the DAOs explicitly rather than hiding the functionality behind existing methods

Without further ado, here is how I have refactored org.dspace.content.Item to use DAOs. A few important things to note:

  • "old" code has been used where possible to avoid re-implementing the wheel
  • I've never liked org.dspace.content.ItemIterator so I've switched to using a "real" Iterator from a List<Item>

For examples of both of these principles, see the implementation of getItems() below. It is a fairly straightforward wrapper for the current Item.findAll(), except that it returns a List<Item> rather than an ItemIterator.



The Item class will be broken up into the following classes:

  • org.dspace.content.Item: core class that doesn't go near the database (it doesn't even know about the DAOs); behaves much like the current implementation.
  • org.dspace.content.dao.ItemDAO: interface defining DAO API
  • org.dspace.content.dao.ItemDAOFactory: factory for dishing out implementations of the above interface
  • org.dspace.content.dao.postgres.ItemDAOPostgres: default implementation of the above interface for use with PostgreSQL
  • org.dspace.content.proxy.ItemProxy: subclass of Item that needs to know about the DAO. It will be used for (eg) only loading metadata on demand, to reduce the memory footprint of Items etc.

The following classes have also been introduced:

  • org.dspace.core.ArchiveManager

Note that it might be preferable to have a more generic implementation of the ItemDAO interface that supports both PostgreSQL and Oracle, but given that one motivation for adopting DAOs is to remove db-specificities from the code making it easier to port, I thought it was sensible to start with just PostgreSQL. Eventually, it ought to be possible to drop in ItemDAOHibernate (etc) implementations that make db portability far easier.


Basic implementation of the Item object. This class has been stripped down to remove all contact with the database, including (but not limited to) contstructors, factory methods, update(), delete(), find(), etc. I haven't decided exactly how the Item API will look, but it will probably be much the same as before, only with any of the aforementioned methods. Another key difference is that it will have actual Java objects as member variables instead of pulling everything out of a TableRow.


This will be a fairly simple proxy implementation. Specifically, it will be closest to being a virtual proxy, in that it will appear to be a regular Item object, but will have a slightly smarter implementation (not loading metadata until requested, keeping track of what has changed to make updates more efficient etc).

public class ItemProxy extends Item
{ // Overrides relevant methods of Item. }


This isn't final, but it's a good start.

public interface ItemDAO extends ContentDAO
    implements CRUD<Item>, Link<Item, Bundle>
    public Item create() throws AuthorizeException;
    public Item retrieve(int id);
    public Item retrieve(UUID uuid);
    public void update(Item item) throws AuthorizeException;
    public void delete(int id) throws AuthorizeException;
    public List<Item> getItems();
    public List<Item> getItemsBySubmitter(EPerson eperson);
    public List<Item> getItemsByCollection(Collection collection);
    public List<Item> getParentItems(Bundle bundle);


public class ItemDAOFactory
    public static ItemDAO getInstance(Context context)
    {   // Eventually, the implementation that is returned will be
        // defined in the configuration.
        return new ItemDAOPostgres(context);


This is a fairly straightforward implementation of the above interface. As much as possible, code from the original Item class will be used. For instance, this is how getItems() is implemented:

public List<Item> getItems()
        TableRowIterator tri = DatabaseManager.queryTable(context, "item",
            "SELECT item_id FROM item WHERE in_archive = '1'");

        List<Item> items = new ArrayList<Item>();
        for (TableRow row : tri.toList())
            int id = row.getIntColumn("item_id");
        return items;
    } catch (SQLException sqle){
        // Need to think more carefully about how we deal with SQLExceptions
        throw new RuntimeException(sqle);

Some changes have been made to eliminate ItemIterator, and to generally make things a little more consistent with the rest of the code (this looks almost identical to, eg, CollectionDAO.getCollections().



The idea behind this class came from the realisation that Item.withdraw() and Item.reinstate() don't really make sense. What I'd much rather do is call (eg) ArchiveManager.withdrawItem(Item item).
I've been thinking that the ArchiveManager could be used for certain maintenance operations as well, such as moving Items between Collections, and maybe acting as a wrapper for the CommunityFiliator.

public class ArchiveManager
    public static void withdrawItem(Context context, Item item)
    {        // ...      }

    public static void reinstateItem(Context context, Item item)
    {        // ...      }
    public static void moveItem(Context context, Item item, Collection source, Collection dest)
    {        // ...      }

As suggested by Richard Jones, there probably ought to be a top-level general-purpose DAO interface that has implementations for the various storage mechanisms (GlobalDAOPostgres etc). The idea is to have this top-level object capture any implementation-specific details in a single top-level object, rather than in every Postgres DAO implementation. For example, with the current database "abstraction layer", the top-level implementation of GlobalDAO understands the Context object, whereas a Hibernate implementation would know what a SessionFactory is.

public interface GlobalDAO
    // The following methods actually currently throw SQLExceptions to
    // keep things simple, but in future SQLExceptions should be
    // eliminated from any code that doesn't directly touch a database.
    public void startTransaction() throws GlobalDAOException;
    public void endTransaction() throws GlobalDAOException;
    public void saveTransaction() throws GlobalDAOException;
    public void abortTransaction();
    public boolean transactionOpen();
    @Deprecated Connection getConnection();

Super-simple GlobalDAO factory.

Implementation of the GlobalDAO interface for PostgreSQL.

public class GlobalDAOPostgres implements GlobalDAO
    private Connection connection;

    // ...

    public void startTransaction()
         connection = DatabaseManager.getConnection();
    // ...


  1. We need to relate this back to the DSpace 2.0 Service Manager. We now have

    1. RequestService, SessionService and UserService as a replacement for GlobalDAO, it separates out the state of the request and allows other services to execute actions within a transactional window. These include
      1. RequestService (In combination with User and DatabaseServices)
        1. A database connection
        2. The legacy DSpace Context object (for event manager / consumer activity)
      2. UserService: Identifies the current user and allows updating basic user details like password and email etc.
        1. provides access to get the current userid (maintained via threadlocal)

    Concered about ArchiveManager being a "God Object", Though we do need the operations expressed on it, it should not be static, it should be a "service" available in the Spring Context that can be replaced/reimplemented under the hood.

    In almost all cases, the ServiceManager and its services represent an opportunity for the application to replace entire portions of the underlying application logic without having to resort to classpath overrides.  Id designed properly, altering DSpace under the hood will become much simpler.  This starts with refactoring the DSpace data model so that it is not deadlocking the business logic inside completely inextensible static methods.

  2. All cases of the word "static" in this document represent a bad API design choice.