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How to use Reflection to Document your Data Model based on JPA Annotations

So using JPA, Hiber­nate or EBeans is cool when you can just anno­tate your Java classes, but haven’t you always wished you could “gen­er­ate” doc­u­men­ta­tion of your data model from the code? Pulling infor­ma­tion of the the JPA / Hiber­nate  and other val­i­da­tion annotations?

Assum­ing you have all those nice Anno­ta­tions in your beans:

@Table(name = "project_bills")
public class Bill extends Model {

	private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;

	public Long id;

	public Double billAmount;

	public Date billDate;

	public String billNumber;

	public Boolean canBill;

	public String comment;

	public Date paidDate;

Here is an exam­ple of how to go about accom­plish­ing that task:

public static String listEntities(String _package) {
        StringBuffer retval = new StringBuffer();
        Reflections reflections = new Reflections(_package, Play.application().classloader());
        Set<Class<?>> classes = reflections.getTypesAnnotatedWith(javax.persistence.Entity.class);
        for (Class c : classes) {
            retval.append(c.getName() + "\n");
            retval.append(listAnnotations(c.getName()) + "\n\n");
            retval.append(listAttributes(c.getName()) + "\n\n");
        return retval.toString();

    public static String listAnnotations(String _class) {
        StringBuffer retval = new StringBuffer();
        try {
            Annotation[] annotations = Class.forName(_class).getAnnotations();
            if (annotations.length != 0) {
                for (int j = 0; j < annotations.length; j++) {
                    retval.append(annotations[j].toString() + ": " + annotations[j].annotationType() + "\n");
        } catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
            return retval.toString();
        return retval.toString();

    public static String listAttributes(String _class) {
        StringBuffer retval2 = new StringBuffer();
        boolean perstistent = false;
        try {
            for (Field field : Class.forName(_class).getDeclaredFields()) {
                Class type = field.getType();
                String name = field.getName();
                perstistent = false;
                StringBuffer retval = new StringBuffer();
                retval.append("\t" + name + " (" + type + ")\n");
                Annotation[] annotations = field.getDeclaredAnnotations();

                if (annotations.length != 0) {
                    for (int j = 0; j < annotations.length; j++) {
                        retval.append(annotations[j].toString() + ": " + annotations[j].annotationType() + "\n");
                        if (annotations[j].toString().startsWith("@javax.persistence")) {
                            perstistent = true;
                if (perstistent) {
        } catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
            return retval2.toString();
        return retval2.toString();

Which will gen­er­ate some­thing like this:

@javax.persistence.Table(schema=, uniqueConstraints=[], catalog=, name=project_bills): interface javax.persistence.Table
@javax.persistence.Entity(name=): interface javax.persistence.Entity

	id (class java.lang.Long)
@javax.persistence.Id(): interface javax.persistence.Id
@javax.persistence.Column(insertable=true, scale=0, unique=false, precision=0, columnDefinition=, name=PBI_ID, updatable=true, length=255, nullable=true, table=): interface javax.persistence.Column

	billAmount (class java.lang.Double)
@utils.data.formatters.Formats$DoubleFormat(): interface utils.data.formatters.Formats$DoubleFormat
@javax.persistence.Column(insertable=true, scale=0, unique=false, precision=0, columnDefinition=, name=PBI_BILL_AMOUNT, updatable=true, length=22, nullable=true, table=): interface javax.persistence.Column

	billDate (class java.util.Date)
@javax.persistence.Column(insertable=true, scale=0, unique=false, precision=0, columnDefinition=, name=PBI_BILL_DATE, updatable=true, length=255, nullable=true, table=): interface javax.persistence.Column
@play.data.format.Formats$DateTime(pattern=dd.MM.yyyy): interface play.data.format.Formats$DateTime

	billNumber (class java.lang.String)
@javax.persistence.Column(insertable=true, scale=0, unique=false, precision=0, columnDefinition=, name=PBI_BILL_NUMBER, updatable=true, length=10, nullable=true, table=): interface javax.persistence.Column

Of course this is only the tip of the ice­berg, but you get the idea.

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