Lazy Loading

Optimizing SQL queries enhances the performance of any data-centric application. Some of the common approaches used to optimize SQL queries are:

  • Avoid round trips to the database and fetch all required data for an operation using a single SQL query using Joins.
  • Fetch only required data to reduce the load on the database
    SQL queries are generated and executed by the underlying ORM engine. Therefore, Hibernate provides various hooks to optimize SQL. The fetching strategy is one of the most important hooks, which defines the data that to be fetched, the time of fetching the data, and the way in which it needs to be fetched. 
    There are four strategies for loading an object and its associations.
  • Immediate fetching
  • Lazy fetching
  • Eager fetching
  • Batch fetching


If memory tracking is enabled on a server, it accesses each field of the object to compute its size. As a result, even lazy fields are accessed causing the lazy fields to get loaded immediately.

Immediate fetching

In this strategy, the associated object is fetched immediately after the owning entity is fetched, either from the database using a separate SQL query or from the secondary cache. This is not an efficient strategy to use, unless the associated object is cached in the secondary cache or when separate queries are more efficient than a Join query. You can define this strategy by setting lazy="false" and fetch="select" for the relationship property definition in the CFC.

<cfproperty name="art" fieldtype="one-to-many" cfc="ART" fkcolumn="ARTISTID" lazy="false" fetch="select">

With this strategy, on loading the artists object, its art object is loaded immediately using a separate SQL query. As a result, this strategy is extremely vulnerable to 'N+1 Select problem'.

Lazy fetching

In this strategy, the associated object or collection is fetched only when required. Although you need to send a new request to the database each time you need data, this strategy controls how much of data is loaded and when is it loaded. This helps in reducing the database load. 
When you load an entity, by default, ColdFusion ORM loads the entity's data but relations and any mapped collections and are not loaded. They are loaded only when you want to load them by calling the getter method. Therefore, the relations and collection mappings are lazily loaded. For example, when the artist object is loaded, all its artworks are not loaded and they are loaded only when  getarts () is called.
ColdFusion ORM provides three types of lazy loading for relationships:

  • lazy: This is the default lazy loading that applies to collection mapping,  one-to-many  and many-to-many relationship. In this case, when you call the accessor for the collection/relation, the collection is fully loaded. So, when you call EntityLoad() for a particular artist, its artworks are not loaded at that time. When you call artist.getarts(), all the art object belonging to the artist will get loaded. This is achieved by setting lazy=" true"on  the relationship property definition in the CFC.Example: In artist.cfc

<cfproperty name="art" fieldtype="one-to-many" cfc="ART" fkcolumn="artistId" lazy="true">
  • Extra lazy: This applies to one-to-many and many-to-many relationships. This type of lazy loading goes one step ahead of lazy and does not load all the associated objects when the accessor for that relation is called. It just loads the primary keys for those objects and keeps a proxy object for them. When you call any method on the wrapper object, that object's data is loaded from the database. For example, when you call  artist . getarts (), it executes a query on the database to fetch the primary key of the related artwork objects and creates a proxy artwork object. So, you do not load the data for all the artwork objects in memory. When you access a particular artwork object and invoke any method on it, then it fires another query to the database to load that particular artwork object. This is achieved by setting  lazy=" extra "on  the relationship property definition in the CFC.Example: In artist.cfc
<cfproperty name="art" fieldtype="one-to-many" cfc="art" fkcolumn="artistId" lazy="extra" >
  • proxy: This applies to one-to-one and many-to-one relationships. When the owner object is loaded, the related object is not loaded from the database. ColdFusion only creates a proxy object for the related object and when any method is invoked on the related object, the data for the proxy object is loaded from the database and populated in the proxy object. For example, if the art-artist table relation is  lazy,  when the art object is loaded, the  artists  object is not loaded and when you call art.getartist(), you would only get a proxy object. When you call any method on the proxy object,  query  gets executed on the database to load artist object's data. This is achieved by setting lazy="true"on the relationship property definition in the CFCExample: In ART.cfc
<cfproperty name="artist" fieldtype="many-to-one" cfc="artist" fkcolumn="artistId" lazy="true">

An entity is loaded only once in the request (in Hibernate session) and there is always only one copy of it in the request. So, for artwork and artist relationship, which is lazy, if the artist is already loaded, calling art.getartist() will not create a proxy object and will return the loaded artist object.

Lazy loading can be disabled by setting lazy="false" on the relationship property definition in the CFC.
Choosing an appropriate lazy loading option is very important for the performance of your application. Extra lazy means morenumber of trips to the database (each trip to the database is expensive) but less data in memory whereas no lazy loading means a huge object graph in the memory. So, you need to balance the approach based on the application need.

Eager fetching

In this strategy, the associated object or collection is fetched together with the owning entity using a single SQL Join query. This strategy reduces the number of trips to the database and is a good optimization technique when you always access the associated object immediately after loading the owning entity. You can define this strategy by setting fetch="join" for the relationship property definition in the CFC.

Batch fetching

This strategy tells Hibernate to optimize the second SQL select in Immediate fetching or lazy fetching to load batch of objects or collections in a single query. This allows you to load a batch of proxied objects or uninitilized collections that are referenced in the current request. This is generally useful in nested tree loading. You can specify this using "batchsize" attribute for CFC or relationship property. 
There are two ways you can tune batch fetching:

  • Batch fetching at CFC level: This allows batch fetching of the proxied objects and is applied to one-to-one and many-to-one relationship. For example, consider artwork and artist example where there are 25 art instances loaded in the request (ORM session). Each artwork has a reference to the artist and the relationship is lazy. Therefore, art objects contain the proxied object for artist . If you now iterate through all the art objects and call  getartist () on each, by default 25 SELECT statements are executed to retrieve the proxied owners, one for each artist proxy object. This can be batched by specifying the ' batchsize 'attribute on the artist CFC:

<cfcomponent table="artist" batchsize="10" ...>

When you call getartist() on the first art object, it batch fetches 10 artist objects that are proxied in the current request.So for 25 art objects, this type of batch fetching makes Hibernate execute a maximum of three queries in batches of 10, 10, and 5.

  • Batch fetching at collections: This allows batch fetching of value collections, one-to-many or many-to-many relationships that are uninitialized. For example, consider artist-art one-to-many relationship where there are 25 artists loaded and each artist has a lazy collection of artworks. If you now iterate through the artists and call  getarts () on each, by default 25 SELECT statements are executed, one for each artist to load its art objects. This can be optimized by enabling batch fetching, which is done by specifying " batchsize "on the relationship property: Example:In artist.cfc:

<cfproperty name="art" fieldtype="one-to-many" cfc="art" fkcolumn="artistId" lazy="true" batchsize="10">

One important thing to understand here is that batchsize here does not mean that 10 artworks are loaded at one time for a artist. It actually means that 10 artwork collections (artworks for 10 artists) are loaded together.When you call getarts() on the first artist, artworks for 9 other artists are also fetched along with the one that was asked for. The value for batchsize attribute should be chosen based on the expected number of proxied objects or uninitialized collections in the session.

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