Friday, October 6, 2017

Asynchrouns and Transactional Event Listeners in Spring

The built-in event publication functionality exists from the early Spring versions and it is still useful for handling basic communication between Spring components in the same application context. In general, the application can generate application events (that can be arbitrary objects) and listen to them. The whole mechanism is really simple: using ApplicationPublisher you publish events and using EventListener you handle them. What I find especially useful is asynchronous and transactional event listeners.

One of the example where events can be used is when a component wants to signal that an entity (in terms of JPA) was created or modified so that other interested components (listeners) can react to this event and trigger some business logic (e.g. schedule a notification). Usually such code is executed within a Spring managed transaction. For example:

public class TaskService {

    private static final Logger LOG = LoggerFactory.getLogger(TaskService.class);

    private TaskRepository taskRepository;

    private ApplicationEventPublisher eventPublisher;

    public Task createTask(String name) {

        Task task = new Task();
        task.setCreated(;"Publishing task created event: {}", task);

        eventPublisher.publishEvent(new TaskCreatedEvent(task));

        try {
        } finally {
  "Event published. Saving task: {}", task);

The above service publishes an event with task instance before it was actually saved. Handling such events can be done in several ways in Spring. To demonstrate what happens with the task instance I will check its state with JPA EntityManager:

  • if is it transient (no id was set),
  • if it is managed by entity manager or
  • if it detached (not transient, not managed but exists).

Let’s look at the listener:

public class TaskCreatedEventListener {

    private static final Logger LOG = LoggerFactory.getLogger(TaskCreatedEventListener.class);

    EntityManager entityManager;

    // @Async
    // @EventListener
    // @TransactionalEventListener
    public void handleEvent(TaskCreatedEvent taskCreatedEvent) throws InterruptedException {
        Task task = taskCreatedEvent.getTask();"Is task transient? {}", isTransient(task));"Is task managed? {}", isManaged(task));"Is task detached? {}", isDetached(task));

    private boolean isTransient(Task task) {
        return task.getId() == null;

    private boolean isManaged(Task task) {
        return entityManager.contains(task);

    private boolean isDetached(Task task) {
        return !isTransient(task)
            && !isManaged(task)
            && exists(task);

    private boolean exists(Task task) {
        return entityManager.find(Task.class, task.getId()) != null;


Let’s go through several examples. What would be the behavior if we have:

  • @EventListener

This is standard listener that is invoked synchronously. The method will be executed before transaction is complete hence the object will be in transient state.

  • @Async @EventListener

Adding @Async to @EventListener will make the method is executed asynchronously hence in different thread (don’t forget to enable asynchronous method execution in the application). In our scenario most likely the object with be in transient state but in real life it can be also detached as the the publisher could save the task already. So in fact, the behavior is not deterministic.

  • @TransactionalEventListener

When the listener is marked as transactional event listener, Spring publishes the event to listener only when the publisher was called in the boundaries of the transaction and its after commit phase (this can be adjusted through the annotation). In such scenario, the object will be in managed state.

  • @Async @TransactionalEventListener

This is the most interesting case. As above, Spring publishes the event to listener only when the publisher was called in the boundaries of the transaction and its after commit phase, but the transaction finishes so the object is in the detached state - there is a different transaction running.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great explanation. Usually I use `ApplicationEventMulticaster.setTaskExecutor()` to run the listeners in different thread.