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Hibernate, like all other object/relational mapping tools, requires metadata that governs the transformation of data from one representation to the other. Hibernate Annotations provides annotation-based mapping metadata.

The JPA specification recognizes the interest and the success of the transparent object/relational mapping paradigm. It standardizes the basic APIs and the metadata needed for any object/relational persistence mechanism. Hibernate EntityManager implements the programming interfaces and lifecycle rules as defined by the JPA persistence specification and together with Hibernate Annotations offers a complete (and standalone) JPA persistence solution on top of the mature Hibernate Core. You may use a combination of all three together, annotations without JPA programming interfaces and lifecycle, or even pure native Hibernate Core, depending on the business and technical needs of your project. At all time you can fall back to Hibernate native APIs, or if required, even to native JDBC and SQL.

This release of Hibernate Annotations is based on the final release of the JPA 2 specification (aka JSR-317) and supports all its features (including the optional ones). Hibernate specific features and extensions are also available through unstandardized, Hibernate specific annotations.

If you are moving from previous Hibernate Annotations versions, please have a look at Java Persistence migration guide.