Isolation Levels

Transactions not only ensure the full completion (or rollback) of the statements that they enclose but also isolate the data modified by the statements. The isolation level describes the degree to which the data being updated is visible to other transactions.

Suppose that a transaction in one program updates a customer's phone number, but before the transaction commits, another program reads the same phone number. Will the second program read the updated and uncommitted phone number, or will it read the old one? The answer depends on the isolation level of the transaction. If the transaction allows other programs to read uncommitted data, performance may improve because the other programs don't have to wait until the transaction ends. But there's a trade-off: if the transaction rolls back, another program might read the wrong data.

For entity beans with container-managed persistence, you can change the isolation level by editing the consistency element in the sun-cmp-mapping.xml file. These beans use the default isolation level of the DBMS, which is usually READ_COMMITTED.

For entity beans with bean-managed persistence and for all session beans, you can set the isolation level programmatically by using the API provided by the underlying DBMS. A DBMS, for example, might allow you to permit uncommitted reads by invoking the setTransactionIsolation method:

Connection con;

Do not change the isolation level in the middle of a transaction. Usually, such a change causes the DBMS software to issue an implicit commit. Because the isolation levels offered by DBMS vendors may vary, you should check the DBMS documentation for more information. Isolation levels are not standardized for the J2EE platform.