Persisting a Collection with an arbitrary enum type

(Recovered from my old Blog).

As we know, enums are great for storing (relatively) static domain information.

But let’s say we want an object which models (and can persist) a collection of elements where we are not sure at design time which domain information will be stored. For example, a set of attributes describing a financial trade – TransactionSource, BusinessFlow, TradingStrategy, etc. While we could model these all separately, it would be nice to have a single collection of attributes.

In this scenario, we could create a collection (and associated methods) which manipulate Object, but in today’s typesafe world there has to be something better.

I propose creating an empty interface, then having all enums implement it:

Then, the consuming code becomes simple:

Note that Hibernate will confused when trying to persist TransactionAttribute (as it won’t be able to determine the type of TransactionAttributeInterface). This could be solved by creating a new Hibernate UserType (see, or more easily by mapping to a String internally for persistence:

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