Mastering Spring: Synchronizing @Transactional and @Async Annotations With Various Propagation Strategies

@Transactional annotation, combined with various propagation strategies, offers granular control over transaction management, ensuring data integrity.

The Spring Framework stands as a comprehensive solution for developing Java applications, offering a plethora of features for streamlined development. Within its suite of functionalities, managing transactions and executing operations asynchronously is particularly crucial. They play significant roles in maintaining the consistency of data and enhancing application scalability and responsiveness, respectively. This article seeks to shed light on the synergistic use of Spring’s @Transactional and @Async annotations, providing insights into their collective application to optimize the performance of Java applications.

Understanding Transaction Management in Spring

Transaction management is crucial in any enterprise application to ensure data consistency and integrity. In Spring, this is achieved through the @Transactional annotation, which abstracts the underlying transaction management mechanism, making it easier for developers to control transaction boundaries declaratively.

The @Transactional Annotation

The @Transactional annotation in Spring can be applied at both the class and method levels. It declares that a method or all methods of a class should be executed within a transactional context. Spring’s @Transactional supports various properties such as propagation, isolation, timeout, and readOnly, allowing for fine-tuned transaction management.

  • Propagation: Defines how transactions relate to each other; Common options include REQUIRED, REQUIRES_NEW, and SUPPORTS
  • Isolation: Determines how changes made by one transaction are visible to others; Options include READ_UNCOMMITTED, READ_COMMITTED, REPEATABLE_READ, and SERIALIZABLE.
  • Timeout: Specifies the time frame within which a transaction must be completed
  • ReadOnly: Indicates whether the transaction is read-only, optimizing certain database operations

Exploring Asynchronous Operations in Spring

Asynchronous operations in Spring are managed through the @Async annotation, enabling method calls to run in a background thread pool, thus not blocking the caller thread. This is particularly beneficial for operations that are time-consuming or independent of the main execution flow.

The @Async Annotation

Marking a method with @Async makes its execution asynchronous, provided that the Spring task executor is properly configured. This annotation can be used for methods returning void, a Future, or a CompletableFuture object, allowing the caller to track the operation’s progress and result.

Combining @Transactional With @Async

Integrating transaction management with asynchronous operations presents unique challenges, primarily because transactions are tied to a thread’s context, and @Async causes the method execution to switch to a different thread.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Transaction context propagation: When an @Async method is invoked from within a @Transactional context, the transaction context does not automatically propagate to the asynchronous method execution thread.
  • Best practices: To manage transactions within asynchronous methods, it’s crucial to ensure that the method responsible for transaction management is not the same as the one marked with @Async. Instead, the asynchronous method should call another @Transactional method to ensure the transaction context is correctly established.

Practical Examples


public class InvoiceService {
    public void processInvoices() {
        // Asynchronous operation
    public void updateInvoiceStatus() {
        // Transactional operation

In this example, processInvoices is an asynchronous method that calls updateInvoiceStatus, a transactional method. This separation ensures proper transaction management within the asynchronous execution context.

@Service public class ReportService { @Async public CompletableFuture<Report> generateReportAsync() { return CompletableFuture.completedFuture(generateReport()); } @Transactional public Report generateReport() { // Transactional operation to generate a report } }

Here, generateReportAsync executes asynchronously and returns a CompletableFuture, while generateReport handles the transactional aspects of report generation.

Discussion on Transaction Propagation

Transaction propagation behaviors in Spring define how transactions relate to each other, especially in scenarios where one transactional method calls another. Choosing the right propagation behavior is essential for achieving the desired transactional semantics.

Common Propagation Behaviors

  1. REQUIRED(Default): This is the default propagation behavior. If there’s an existing transaction, the method will run within that transaction. If there’s no existing transaction, Spring will create a new one.
  2. REQUIRES_NEW: This behavior always starts a new transaction. If there’s an existing transaction, it will be suspended until the new transaction is completed. This is useful when you need to ensure that the method executes in a new, independent transaction.
  3. SUPPORTS: With this behavior, the method will execute within an existing transaction if one is present. However, if there’s no existing transaction, the method will run non-transactionally.
  4. NOT_SUPPORTED: This behavior will execute the method non-transactionally. If there’s an existing transaction, it will be suspended until the method is completed.
  5. MANDATORY: This behavior requires an existing transaction. If there’s no existing transaction, Spring will throw an exception.
  6. NEVER: The method should never run within a transaction. If there’s an existing transaction, Spring will throw an exception.
  7. NESTED: This behavior starts a nested transaction if an existing transaction is present. Nested transactions allow for partial commits and rollbacks and are supported by some, but not all, transaction managers.

Propagation Behaviors With Asynchronous Operations

When combining @Transactional with @Async, understanding the implications of propagation behaviors becomes even more critical. Since asynchronous methods run in a separate thread, certain propagation behaviors might not work as expected due to the absence of a transaction context in the new thread.

  • REQUIREDandREQUIRES_NEW: These are the most commonly used and straightforward behaviors. However, when used with @Async, a REQUIRES_NEW behavior is often more predictable because it ensures that the asynchronous method always starts a new transaction, avoiding unintended interactions with the calling method’s transaction.
  • SUPPORTS, NOT_SUPPORTED, MANDATORY, NEVER: These behaviors might lead to unexpected results when used with @Async, as the transaction context from the calling thread is not propagated to the asynchronous method’s thread. Careful consideration and testing are required when using these behaviors with asynchronous processing.
  • NESTED: Given the complexity of nested transactions and the separate thread context of @Async methods, using nested transactions with asynchronous operations is generally not recommended. It could lead to complex transaction management scenarios that are difficult to debug and maintain.

Propagation With Asynchronous Operations

To illustrate the interaction between different propagation behaviors and asynchronous operations, let’s consider an example where an asynchronous service method calls a transactional method with varying propagation behaviors.

@Service public class OrderProcessingService { @Autowired private OrderUpdateService orderUpdateService; @Async public void processOrdersAsync(List<Order> orders) { orders.forEach(order -> orderUpdateService.updateOrderStatus(order, Status.PROCESSING)); } } @Service public class OrderUpdateService { @Transactional(propagation = Propagation.REQUIRES_NEW) public void updateOrderStatus(Order order, Status status) { // Implementation to update order status } }

In this example, processOrdersAsync is an asynchronous method that processes a list of orders. It calls updateOrderStatus on each order, which is marked with @Transactional(propagation = Propagation.REQUIRES_NEW). This ensures that each order status update occurs in a new, independent transaction, isolating each update operation from others and the original asynchronous process.


@Transactional(REQUIRES_NEW) With @Async


public class UserService {
    public void updateUserAsync(User user) {
        updateUser(user); // Delegate to the synchronous, transactional method
    @Transactional(propagation = Propagation.REQUIRES_NEW)
    public void updateUser(User user) {
        // Logic to update the user
        // Database operations to persist changes
  • Explanation: Here, updateUserAsync is an asynchronous method that calls updateUser, a method annotated with @Transactional and a REQUIRES_NEW propagation behavior. This configuration ensures that each user update operation occurs in a new transaction, isolated from any existing transaction. This is particularly useful in scenarios where the update operations must not be affected by the outcome of other transactions.

Combining @Async With @Transactional on Class Level


public class OrderService {
    public void processOrderAsync(Order order) {
        processOrder(order); // Delegate to the synchronous method
    public void processOrder(Order order) {
        // Logic to process the order
        // Database operations involved in order processing
  • Explanation: In this scenario, the OrderService class is annotated with @Transactional, applying transaction management to all its methods by default. The processOrderAsync method, marked with @Async, performs the order processing asynchronously by calling processOrder. The class-level @Transactional annotation ensures that the order processing logic is executed within a transactional context, providing consistency and integrity to the database operations involved.

@Async Method Calling Multiple @Transactional Methods


public class ReportGenerationService {
    private DataService dataService;
    public void generateReportAsync(ReportParameters params) {
        Report report = dataService.prepareData(params);
public class DataService {
    public Report prepareData(ReportParameters params) {
        // Data preparation logic
        return new Report(); // Placeholder for actual report generation
    @Transactional(propagation = Propagation.REQUIRES_NEW)
    public void saveReport(Report report) {
        // Logic to save the report
  • Explanation: This example features an asynchronous method, generateReportAsync, which orchestrates the report generation process by calling two separate transactional methods: prepareData and saveReport. The prepareData method is encapsulated within the default transaction context, while saveReport is explicitly configured to always execute in a new transaction. This setup is ideal for scenarios where the report-saving operation needs to be transactionally independent of the data preparation phase, ensuring that the saving of the report is not impacted by the success or failure of the preceding operations.

Each of these examples demonstrates how different combinations of @Transactional and @Async can be employed to achieve specific transactional behaviors in asynchronous processing contexts, providing Spring developers with the flexibility to tailor transaction management strategies to their application’s requirements.


Understanding and carefully choosing the appropriate transaction propagation behaviors are crucial in Spring applications, especially when combining transactional operations with asynchronous processing. By considering the specific requirements and implications of each propagation behavior, developers can design more robust, efficient, and reliable transaction management strategies in their Spring applications. This extended knowledge enables the handling of complex transactional scenarios with greater confidence and precision, ultimately leading to higher-quality software solutions.

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