§Using the Ebean ORM

§Configuring Ebean

Play comes with the Ebean ORM. To enable it, add the Play Ebean plugin to your SBT plugins in project/plugins.sbt:

addSbtPlugin("com.typesafe.sbt" % "sbt-play-ebean" % "3.0.0")

And then modify your build.sbt to enable the Play Ebean plugin:

lazy val myProject = (project in file("."))
  .enablePlugins(PlayJava, PlayEbean)

§Configuring models

Play Ebean comes with two components, a runtime library that actually talks to the database, and an sbt plugin that enhances the compiled Java bytecode of your models for use with Ebean. Both of these components need to be configured so that Ebean knows where your models are.

§Configuring the runtime library

The runtime library can be configured by putting the list of packages and/or classes that your Ebean models live in your application configuration file. For example, if all your models are in the models package, add the following to conf/application.conf:

ebean.default = ["models.*"]

This defines a default Ebean server, using the default data source, which must be properly configured. You can also override the name of the default Ebean server by configuring ebeanconfig.datasource.default property. This might be useful if you want to use separate databases for testing and development. You can actually create as many Ebean servers you need, and explicitly define the mapped class for each server:

ebean.orders = ["models.Order", "models.OrderItem"]
ebean.customers =  ["models.Customer", "models.Address"]

In this example, we have access to two Ebean servers - each using its own database.

Each ebean. config line (as above) can map any classes that Ebean may be interested in registering (eg. @Entity/Model classes, @Embeddables, custom ScalarTypes and CompoundTypes, BeanPersistControllers, BeanPersistListeners, BeanFinders, ServerConfigStartups, etc). These can be individually listed separated by commas, and/or you can use the wildcard .*. For example, models.* registers with Ebean all classes within the models package that Ebean can make use of.

To customise the underlying Ebean Server configuration, you can either add a conf/ file, or create an instance of the ServerConfigStartup interface to programmatically manipulate the Ebean ServerConfig before the server is initialised.

As an example, the fairly common problem of reducing the sequence batch size in order to minimise sequence gaps, could be solved quite simply with a class like this:

package models;

import com.avaje.ebean.config.ServerConfig;
import com.avaje.ebean.event.ServerConfigStartup;

public class MyServerConfigStartup implements ServerConfigStartup {
    public void onStart(ServerConfig serverConfig) {

Note that Ebean will also make use of a conf/orm.xml file (if present), to configure <entity-mappings>.

For more information about Ebean, see the Ebean documentation.

§Configuring the sbt plugin

By default, the sbt plugin will attempt to load your application.conf file to discover what your models configuration is. This will work in a simple project setup, however, for projects that have multiple sub projects, where the application.conf file lives in a different project to where the ebean model classes live, this may not work. In this case you will need to manually specify the ebean models for each sub project that contains ebean models, using the playEbeanModels configuration item:

playEbeanModels in Compile := Seq("models.*")

In addition to configuring the models, you may wish to enable debug of the configuration. This can be done using playEbeanDebugLevel, with -1 being off, and 9 showing the most amount of debug:

playEbeanDebugLevel := 4

You may also configure custom arguments for the ebean agent, this can be done using the playEbeanAgentArgs setting:

playEbeanAgentArgs += ("detect" -> "false")

Finally, if you want to also enhance models in your tests, you can do this by configuring the ebean test configuration:


playEbeanModels in Test := Seq("models.*")

§Using Model superclass

Ebean defines a convenient superclass for your Ebean model classes, com.avaje.ebean.Model. Here is a typical Ebean class, mapped in Play:

package models;

import java.util.*;
import javax.persistence.*;

import com.avaje.ebean.Model;

public class Task extends Model {

    public Long id;

    public String name;

    public boolean done;

    public Date dueDate = new Date();

    public static Finder<Long, Task> find = new Finder<Long,Task>(Task.class);

Play has been designed to generate getter/setter automatically, to ensure compatibility with libraries that expect them to be available at runtime (ORM, Databinder, JSON Binder, etc). If Play detects any user-written getter/setter in the Model, it will not generate getter/setter in order to avoid any conflict.


(1) Because Ebean class enhancement occurs after compilation, do not expect Ebean-generated getter/setters to be available at compilation time. If you’d prefer to code with them directly, either add the getter/setters explicitly yourself, or ensure that your model classes are compiled before the remainder of your project, eg. by putting them in a separate subproject.

(2) Enhancement of direct Ebean field access (enabling lazy loading) is only applied to Java classes, not to Scala. Thus, direct field access from Scala source files (including standard Play templates) does not invoke lazy loading, often resulting in empty (unpopulated) entity fields. To ensure the fields get populated, either (a) manually create getter/setters and call them instead, or (b) ensure the entity is fully populated before accessing the fields.

As you can see, we’ve added a find static field, defining a Finder for an entity of type Task with a Long identifier. This helper field is then used to simplify querying our model:

// Find all tasks
List<Task> tasks = Task.find.all();

// Find a task by ID
Task anyTask = Task.find.byId(34L);

// Delete a task by ID

// More complex task query
List<Task> cocoTasks = Task.find.where()
        .ilike("name", "%coco%")
        .orderBy("dueDate asc")
        .findPagedList(1, 25)

§Transactional actions

By default Ebean will use transactions. However this transactions will be created before and commited or rollbacked after every single query, update, create or delete, as you can see here:

// Created implicit transaction
Task task = Task.find.byId(34L);
// Transaction committed or rolled back

task.done = true;

// Created implicit transaction;
// Transaction committed or rolled back

So, if you want to do more than one action in the same transaction you can use TxRunnable and TxCallable:

import com.avaje.ebean.*;


Ebean.execute(() -> {
    // code running in "REQUIRED" transactional scope
    // ... as "REQUIRED" is the default TxType

    Task task = Task.find.byId(34L);
    task.done = true;;

If your class is an action, you can annotate your action method with @play.db.ebean.Transactional to compose your action method with an Action that will automatically manage a transaction:

import play.db.ebean.Transactional;


public Result done(long id) {
    Task task = Task.find.byId(34L);
    task.done = true;;
    return ok();

Or if you want a more traditional approach you can begin, commit and rollback transactions explicitly:

try {
    Task task = Task.find.byId(34L);
    task.done = true;;

} finally {

Next: Using the Cache

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