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Java Enterprise in a Nutshell, Second Edition by David Flanagan, Jim Farley, William Crawford

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Transactions

A transaction is a group of several operations that must behave atomically, i.e., as if they are a single, indivisible operation. With regards to databases, transactions allow you to combine one or more database actions into a single atomic unit. If you have an application that needs to execute multiple SQL statements to fulfill one goal (say, an inventory management system that needs to move items from an INVENTORY table to a SHIPPING table), you probably want to use JDBC’s transaction services to accomplish the goal.

Working with a transaction involves the following steps: start the transaction, perform its component operations, and then either commit the transaction if all the component operations succeed or roll it back if one of the operations fails. The ability to roll back a transaction is the key feature. This means that if any one SQL statement fails, the entire operation fails, and it is as though none of the component operations took place. Therefore it is impossible to end up with a situation where, for example, the INVENTORY table has been debited, but the SHIPPING table has not been credited.

Another issue with transactions and databases concerns changes to the database becoming visible to the rest of the system. Transactions can operate at varying levels of isolation from the rest of the database. At the most isolated level, the results of all the component SQL statements become visible to the rest of the system only when the transaction is committed. ...

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