Annotation Mappings

Why Annotations?

One of the downsides of using Dozer for the long time was Xml. Since Dozer started during Xml-hype years more than five years ago that was pretty obvious choice back then. After that Java 5 brought us annotations and new industry accepted style of configuring behaviour are Domain-Specific Languages. DSL-like support is provided in form of mapping API, but since version 5.3.2 Dozer starts providing annotations support as well.

The obvious reasons to use annotations is to avoid duplicating field and method names in your mapping code. The annotation can be put onto the mapped property itself thus reducing the amount of code. However there are cases when annotations should be avoided or even impossible to use. Some of them are the following:

  • You are mapping classes, which are not under your control, but provided in libraries;

  • The mappings are quite complex and require many configurations;

In the first case you could be mapping JAXB generated entities or third-party DTOs and have no possibility to put annotations. In the second case there is a choice of putting lots of multi-line annotations or isolating the mapping code with certain duplication of entity names. Overannotated beans could be problematic to read and understand.


WARNING: Annotation support in Dozer is experimental and does not cover complex use cases yet. However it may be useful to implement that simplest mappings you have had to do in Xml or API before.

The idea is very simple. You put @Mapping annotation either on getter of field directly. If Dozer finds that it adds a bi-directional mapping. It means that putting annotation once will create mappings for both conversion types. Type conversions (e.g. String-Long) will be chosen automatically. Global custom converters are resolved as well. Annotations work only if a conversion is subject to wildcard rule (active by default). The following example demonstrates annotations in action.

public class SourceBean {

    private Long id;

    private String name;

    private String data;

    public Long getId() {

    public String getName() {
public class TargetBean {

    private String pk;

    private String name;

    private String binaryData;

    public void setPk(String pk) { = pk;

    public void setName(String name) { = name;

Mapping the given beans with Dozer will result in all three fields being mapped. Property "name" will be mapped by naming convention. Property "id" will be transformed to "pk". Field "data" will be moved to "binaryData". Do not worry about private modifier; it will be handled automatically.

Currently Dozer offers only one annotation, but the next ones will be added in following releases. As for now you can mix and match all flavours of mapping types to achieve the desired effect: Xml, API and Annotations.

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