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Access the EntityManager from Spring Data JPA

Spring Data JPA allows you to rapidly develop your data access layer through the use of Repository interfaces. Occasionally you will need to access the EntityManager from Spring Data JPA. This post shows you how to access the EntityManager.


The purpose of the EntityManager is to interact with the persistence context. The persistence context will then manage entity instances and their associated lifecycle. This was covered in my blog post on the JPA Entity Lifecycle

Spring Data JPA does an excellent job abstracting you from the EntityManager through its Repository interfaces –

But occasionally you need to access the EntityManager.


An example of this is the refresh method. The refresh method refreshes the state of an instance from the database, and overwrites the copy held by the EntityManager. This ensures the EntityManager manager has the most up to date version of the data

Spring Data JPA Example

Lets use the JPA object from my normal test ground

@Table(name = "PARKRUNCOURSE")
public class ParkrunCourse {
   @Column(name = "PRCOURSE_ID")
   private Long courseId;
   @Column(name = "COURSENAME")
   private String courseName;
   @Column(name = "URL")
   private String url;
   @Column(name = "AVERAGETIME")
   private Long averageTime;

And its associated repository –

public interface ParkrunCourseRepository extends CrudRepository {}

This is a standard implementation of a Spring repository, with the CrudRepository taking ParkrunCourse, and its key type Long

Create Custom Interfaces and Implmentation

The first step is to define a new interface with the same signature as the underlying EntityManager method we want to access –

public interface ParkrunCourseRepositoryCustom {
   void refresh(ParkrunCourse parkrunCourse);

The key point is the custom implementation must end with “Custom”, unless overridden in Spring Data configuration.

Next we provide the implementation for this interface, and inject the EntityManager –

import javax.persistence.PersistenceContext;
import javax.persistence.EntityManager;
import com.glenware.springboot.form.ParkrunCourse;
import org.springframework.transaction.annotation.Transactional;
public class ParkrunCourseRepositoryImpl implements ParkrunCourseRepositoryCustom {
   private EntityManager em;
   public void refresh(ParkrunCourse parkrunCourse) {

We must end our implementation name with “Impl”

We then change the ParkrunCourseRepository interface to –

public interface ParkrunCourseRepository extends CrudRepository, ParkrunCourseRepositoryCustom {

We can then refresh our JPA object –

private ParkrunCourseRepository parkrunCourseRepository;
ParkrunCourse parkrunCourse = parkrunCourseRepository.findOne(1L);
// Do some work & in the mean time the database has been updated by a batch job
// refresh object and now up to date


This approach shows how to access the EntityManager using Spring Data JPA. The advantage of this approach is you can access the EntityManager for a specific JPA implementation. The disadvantage of this approach is that you would need to repeat this task for each JPA implementation. The next post looks at a more generic approach to the custom repository implementation, allowing other JPA objects to benefit.

About the Author Martin Farrell

My name is Martin Farrell. I have almost 20 years Java experience. I specialize inthe Spring Framework and JEE. I’ve consulted to a range of businesses, and have provide Java and Spring mentoring and training. You can learn more at About or on my consultancy website Glendevon Software

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Leave a Comment:

Add EntityManager.refresh to all Spring Data Repositories - javabullets says 18/09/2017

[…] When a blank isnt blank Spring Data Version From Spring Boot : The Hard Way Access the EntityManager from Spring Data JPA Java 8 Streams […]

rswrc says 26/09/2017

An easier way to obtain the EntityManager in Spring Data Jpa is JpaContext:

    Oxnard says 20/05/2018

    got an example?

Elifarley says 18/12/2017

I’ve tried this approach with Spring 1.2.8 but I could only get this error message: No property refresh found for type MyTable!

    Martin Farrell says 19/12/2017

    Can you share the implementation? Github or Github Gist and Ill have a look

Oxnard says 20/05/2018

Could not get it to work. Wondering version used and source code. you sharing that someplace?

Anthony says 23/10/2018

If you specify a unitname with the @PersistentContext(unitname=”blah”), will the CrudRepository and JPARepository pick up the same entityManager using the same persistent Context.
Or simply, how do you tell the JpaRepository or CrudRepository which entityManager to use even if you don’t want to specify extra methods?

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