Home  /  First Look: XEP Object Persistence with InterSystems IRIS

First Look: XEP Object Persistence with InterSystems IRIS
InterSystems: The power behind what matters   

This First Look guide presents an introduction to the XEP (express event persistence) API, which provides support for extremely fast Java object storage and retrieval on the InterSystems IRIS Data Platform™. It gives you a high level overview of the XEP approach to Java object persistence, and walks you through a simple scenario that demonstrates the main features of the API.
These activities are designed to use only the default settings and features, so that you can acquaint yourself with the fundamentals of XEP without having to deal with details that are beyond the scope of this overview. For the full documentation on XEP, see Persisting Java Objects with InterSystems IRIS XEP.
Rapid Java Object Storage and Retrieval
Java is an object oriented language, so it is natural for Java applications to model data as objects. However, this can cause problems when the application needs to store that data in a database. If you use JDBC to store and retrieve objects, you are faced with the problem of transforming your object data into a set of relational tables, and then transforming query resultsets back into objects. The usual solution to this problem is to use an object-relational mapping (ORM) framework such as Hibernate to automate the process. InterSystems IRIS does offer a standard Hibernate interface, and InterSystems recommends it for large, complex object hierarchies.
On the other hand, for applications that perform tasks such as real-time data acquisition, the main problem is speed rather than data complexity. Although Hibernate is by no means slow (if properly optimized), XEP is a better alternative for tasks that require extremely fast storage and retrieval of simple or moderately complex data. In most cases, it will be considerably faster than either Hibernate or JDBC.
How Does XEP Work?
XEP is a lightweight Java API that projects Java object data as persistent events. A persistent event is an instance of an InterSystems IRIS class (normally a subclass of %Persistent) containing a copy of the data fields in a Java object. Like any such instance, it can be retrieved by object access, SQL query, or direct global access.
Before a persistent event can be created and stored, XEP must analyze the corresponding Java class and import a schema into the database. A schema defines the structure of the persistent event class that will be used to store the Java objects. Importing the schema automatically creates a database extent for the persistent event class if one does not already exist. The information from the analysis may be all that XEP needs to import a simple schema. For more complex structures, you can supply additional information that allows XEP to generate indexes and override the default rules for importing fields.
After the schema has been created for a class, you can use various XEP methods to store, update, or delete events, run SQL queries, and iterate through query resultsets.
Try It! Hands-on with XEP
The following demo shows you how to work with XEP and InterSystems IRIS. The XepSimple demo is a very small program, but it provides examples for most of the key XEP features and will give you an overview of how the XEP API is used. You can just read through the code listed here, or you can download it from the InterSystems GitHub repository and run it for yourself. The download includes a ReadMe that contains all the information you will need to get started.
The demo program is divided into four sections, each of which demonstrates one of the four main XEP classes, EventPersister, Event, EventQuery, and EventQueryIterator:
class XepSimple
package xepsimple;
import com.intersystems.xep.*;
import xep.samples.SingleStringSample;

public class XepSimple {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
// Generate 12 SingleStringSample objects for use as test data
    SingleStringSample[] sampleArray = SingleStringSample.generateSampleData(12);

// EventPersister
    EventPersister xepPersister = PersisterFactory.createPersister();
    xepPersister.connect("",51773,"User","_SYSTEM","SYS"); // connect to localhost
    xepPersister.deleteExtent("xep.samples.SingleStringSample");   // remove old test data
    xepPersister.importSchema("xep.samples.SingleStringSample");   // import flat schema

// Event
    Event xepEvent = xepPersister.getEvent("xep.samples.SingleStringSample");
    for (int i=0; i < sampleArray.length; i++) {
      SingleStringSample sample = sampleArray[i];  // array initialized on line 8 = "Sample object #" + i;;
      System.out.println("Persisted " +;

// EventQuery
    String sqlQuery = "SELECT * FROM xep_samples.SingleStringSample WHERE %ID BETWEEN ? AND ?";
    EventQuery<SingleStringSample> xepQuery = xepEvent.createQuery(sqlQuery);
    xepQuery.setParameter(1,3);    // assign value 3 to first SQL parameter
    xepQuery.setParameter(2,12);   // assign value 12 to second SQL parameter
    xepQuery.execute();            // get resultset for IDs between 3 and 12

// EventQueryIterator
    EventQueryIterator<SingleStringSample> xepIter = xepQuery.getIterator();
    while (xepIter.hasNext()) {
      SingleStringSample newSample =; = + " has been updated";

  } // end main()
} // end class XepSimple
XepSimple performs the following tasks:
The SingleStringSample Class
In case you’re curious, here’s a listing of our sample class:
  public class SingleStringSample {
    public  String name;
    public SingleStringSample() {}
    SingleStringSample(String str) {
        name = str;

    public static SingleStringSample[] generateSampleData(int objectCount) {
        SingleStringSample[] data = new SingleStringSample[objectCount];
        for (int i=0;i<objectCount;i++) {
            data[i] = new SingleStringSample("single string test");
        return data;
This class was chosen in part because annotations don’t need to be added before XEP can generate a schema from it. Most classes will require one or more annotations for schema optimization (which is a subject beyond the scope of this First Look).
Next Steps
The XepSimple demo is designed to give you a taste of XEP without bogging you down in details, and is obviously not a model for real production code — it didn’t even bother with exception checking. The most important simplification was in the sample data. You persisted a few tiny Java objects from a class that doesn’t require annotation or other mechanisms to aid in schema generation and optimization. Real world applications will usually require some annotation (although typically less than Hibernate).
When you bring XEP to your production systems, you will need to understand the full range of tools that XEP provides for schema optimization, index control, batch loading, and other important tasks. The main XEP book, Persisting Java Objects with InterSystems IRIS XEP, contains a comprehensive description of these features. The sources listed at the end of this document describe other facets of InterSystems IRIS Java support.
Learn More About XEP and Object Persistence
To learn more about Java object persistence and other InterSystems Java interoperability technologies, see: