Things to watch out for

Critical: Always set jta-data-source and non-jta-data-source

Always set the value of jta-data-source and non-jta-data-source in your persistence.xml file. Regardless if targeting your EntityManager usage for transaction-type="RESOURCE_LOCAL" or transaction-type="TRANSACTION", it's very difficult to guarantee one or the other will be the only one needed. Often times the JPA Provider itself will require both internally to do various optimizations or other special features.

See Containers and Resources for how to configure 'JtaManaged' and a full list of properties for DataSources.

Be detach aware

A warning for any new JPA user is by default all objects will detach at the end of a transaction. People typically discover this when the go to remove or update an object they fetched previously and get an exception like "You cannot perform operation delete on detached object".

All ejb methods start a transaction unless a) you configure them otherwise , or b) the caller already has a transaction in progress when it calls the bean. If you're in a test case or a servlet, it's most likely B that is biting you. You're asking an ejb for some persistent objects, it uses the EntityManager in the scope of the transaction started around it's method and returns some persistent objects, by the time you get them the transaction has completed and now the objects are detached.


  1. Call EntityManager.merge(..) inside the bean code to reattach your object.
  2. Use PersistenceContextType.EXTENDED as in '@PersistenceContext(unitName = "movie-unit", type = PersistenceContextType.EXTENDED)' for EntityManager refs instead of the default of PersistenceContextType.TRANSACTION.
  3. If testing, use a technique to execute transactions in your test code. That's described here in Unit testing transactions