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Large objects

The BinaryAccessProvider provides access to Binary instances.

While the actual data may be saved to different data stores, the metadata is saved in the _nice_binary (and partially nice_resource) table in Postgres.

Currently there are two different implementations:

The main task of a BinaryAccessProvider is to read, write and delete Binary instances.

The AbstractBinaryAccessProvider is the base class that handles all modifications of the _nice_binary table, while sub-classes save the actual binary data into their data store.


The method loadBinary(HashCode, Connection) is called from the BinaryUserType and loads the binary in two steps:

  • The metadata is loaded from the Postgres tables (that’s why we need a Connection)

  • The actual binary data is lazily loaded when openStream() is called


The Connection passed to this method belongs to the Hibernate transaction and should never be committed manually!

There is a second method loadBinary(HashCode, long, String, String) that can be used to create a Binary instance without accessing the Postgres database, if the metadata is already known.


storeBinary(Binary, Connection) saves a Binary instance to the data store. Because the binary is referenced by its hash code, the same file is only saved once, even if it’s referenced multiple times by the database.

Therefore at first it is checked if this file already exists. If not, an entry in the _nice_binary table is created and then the data itself is saved to the data store.

All changes made through the passed Connection are transactional and might be rolled back.


removeBinary(HashCode, Connection) tries to remove the entry in the _nice_binary table. Since we only save one copy of the same file to the data store, a row in _nice_binary might be referenced multiple times. In order to know when the row can be safely deleted, a reference_count column is maintained by a trigger (see binary_reference_trigger.sql).

Objects Stored in DB

When the reference_count is zero, the binary will automatically be deleted by the DeleteUnreferencedBinariesBatchJob. The large object itself will be removed by the built-in lo_manage trigger.

Objects Stored in S3

The S3AccessProvider is largely based on the functionality above, but there are some differences:

  • Because S3 is independent of the JDBC transaction, there might be orphaned objects in the data store if the JDBC transaction is rolled back, after a new object has been stored.

  • When a binary is removed (by the DeleteUnreferencedBinariesBatchJob) it is deleted if the reference_count is 0.

  • S3 offers the possibility to create a pre-signed URL to an object that is valid for a certain amount of time (see Binary.Store#getUrl()), this allows downloading the object directly from the S3 server instead of causing unnecessary traffic for the nice installation.


The BinaryHashingService abstracts the conversion of a binary into its hash code. This allows different BinaryAccessProvider to use different hashing strategies.

  • hashFunction() defines the hash function to be used

  • getStringGenerator() can be used to encode the hash (for example with BASE64)


The BinaryDataAccessor is a service to efficiently query the _nice_binary and nice_resource tables.

This service is necessary, because currently the _nice_binary table is not mapped by Hibernate, which means it cannot be referenced by the query builder.

It is used by the query builder, so that binary metadata can be queried efficiently without causing a query for every single binary.