JPA vs Spring Data JPA

In this post, we will learn the difference between JPA and Spring Data JPA in Java. This is a frequently asked question in Java interviews for beginners. Let's dive into it.

What is JPA? 

The Java Persistence API (JPA) is a specification provided by the Java platform which defines how Java objects are mapped to relational data in the database. JPA describes the management of relational data in applications using Java Platform, Standard Edition, and Java Platform, Enterprise Edition. 

JPA provides an Object/Relational Mapping (ORM) framework to map Java objects to database tables. It supports the basic CRUD operations: Create, Retrieve, Update, and Delete, and allows queries using both SQL and a new language called JPQL (Java Persistence Query Language). 

However, JPA isn't a tool or framework; instead, it's a specification, a set of interfaces, and requires implementation. Popular implementations of JPA include Hibernate, EclipseLink, and Apache OpenJPA.

What is Spring Data JPA? 

Spring Data JPA, on the other hand, is a part of the larger Spring Data family. It builds on top of JPA and aims to improve the implementation of data access layers by reducing the effort to the amount that's actually needed. 

Spring Data JPA does this by providing repository support, which eliminates a lot of boilerplate code, and by providing an implementation of the DAO (Data Access Object) pattern that makes it easier to write the implementation code. 

Spring Data JPA can work with JPA underneath through its repository abstraction. It provides a way to define queries using a straightforward method name approach that removes the need for boilerplate code.

Difference between JPA and Spring Data JPA in Java

JPA (Java Persistence API) Spring Data JPA
JPA is a specification that does not provide an implementation. It is a collection of interfaces and annotations that define a standard way to access relational databases in an Object-Oriented way. Spring Data JPA is not a JPA provider or JPA implementation. It is a part of the larger Spring Data family. It makes it easy to implement JPA-based repositories.
Implementations of JPA are Hibernate, EclipseLink, and others. These JPA providers provide the actual implementation of the JPA specification. Spring Data JPA does not provide any implementation of JPA, but it integrates with JPA providers like Hibernate or EclipseLink.
With JPA, you have to write a significant amount of boilerplate code for CRUD operations. Spring Data JPA minimizes the code through the use of its Spring Data Commons Repository interfaces, so you don't have to write code for CRUD operations.
In JPA, developers have to write and manage the implementation of the DAO (Data Access Object) layer. In Spring Data JPA, developers just need to define an interface extending Repository or one of its sub-interfaces and Spring will provide the implementation automatically.
In JPA, custom queries need to be written manually and are more error-prone. Spring Data JPA provides a way to define queries by just declaring their method signature, known as "query creation from method names". This reduces the possibility of errors in custom query creation.
JPA supports only blocking data access. While Spring Data JPA primarily supports blocking data access, it also provides integration with Spring's support for reactive data access.


JPA and Spring Data JPA both offer valuable services when it comes to interacting with a database within a Java application. While JPA offers a specification for ORM and needs an implementation like Hibernate or EclipseLink, Spring Data JPA is built on top of JPA and provides an implementation on its own. 

Spring Data JPA offers more features, like the creation of queries from method names and the automatic implementation of repository interfaces, reducing the amount of boilerplate code that developers have to write. 

Deciding between JPA and Spring Data JPA largely depends on the specific needs of your project. If you're already using the Spring Framework and want to minimize the amount of manual coding, then Spring Data JPA is likely the best choice for you. However, if you're not using Spring or want to use a different JPA implementation, then JPA would be the way to go.