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Difference between DTO, VO, POJO, JavaBeans?

Posted by: admin November 2, 2017 Leave a comment


Have seen some similar questions:

Can you also please tell me the contexts in which they are used? Or the purpose of them?



A JavaBean is a class that follows the JavaBeans conventions as defined by Sun. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of what JavaBeans are:

JavaBeans are reusable software components for Java that can be manipulated visually in a builder tool. Practically, they are classes written in the Java programming language conforming to a particular convention. They are used to encapsulate many objects into a single object (the bean), so that they can be passed around as a single bean object instead of as multiple individual objects. A JavaBean is a Java Object that is serializable, has a nullary constructor, and allows access to properties using getter and setter methods.

In order to function as a JavaBean class, an object class must obey certain conventions about method naming, construction, and behavior. These conventions make it possible to have tools that can use, reuse, replace, and connect JavaBeans.

The required conventions are:

  • The class must have a public default constructor. This allows easy instantiation within editing and activation frameworks.
  • The class properties must be accessible using get, set, and other methods (so-called accessor methods and mutator methods), following a standard naming convention. This allows easy automated inspection and updating of bean state within frameworks, many of which include custom editors for various types of properties.
  • The class should be serializable. This allows applications and frameworks to reliably save, store, and restore the bean’s state in a fashion that is independent of the VM and platform.

Because these requirements are largely expressed as conventions rather than by implementing interfaces, some developers view JavaBeans as Plain Old Java Objects that follow specific naming conventions.


A Plain Old Java Object or POJO is a term initially introduced to designate a simple lightweight Java object, not implementing any javax.ejb interface, as opposed to heavyweight EJB 2.x (especially Entity Beans, Stateless Session Beans are not that bad IMO). Today, the term is used for any simple object with no extra stuff. Again, Wikipedia does a good job at defining POJO:

POJO is an acronym for Plain Old Java
Object. The name is used to emphasize
that the object in question is an
ordinary Java Object, not a special
object, and in particular not an
Enterprise JavaBean (especially before
EJB 3). The term was coined by Martin
Fowler, Rebecca Parsons and Josh
MacKenzie in September 2000:

“We wondered why people were so against using regular objects in their
systems and concluded that it was
because simple objects lacked a fancy
name. So we gave them one, and it’s
caught on very nicely.”

The term continues the pattern of
older terms for technologies that do
not use fancy new features, such as
POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) in
telephony, and PODS (Plain Old Data
Structures) that are defined in C++
but use only C language features, and
POD (Plain Old Documentation) in Perl.

The term has most likely gained
widespread acceptance because of the
need for a common and easily
understood term that contrasts with
complicated object frameworks. A
JavaBean is a POJO that is
serializable, has a no-argument
constructor, and allows access to
properties using getter and setter
methods. An Enterprise JavaBean is not
a single class but an entire component
model (again, EJB 3 reduces the
complexity of Enterprise JavaBeans).

As designs using POJOs have become
more commonly-used, systems have
arisen that give POJOs some of the
functionality used in frameworks and
more choice about which areas of
functionality are actually needed.
Hibernate and Spring are examples.

Value Object

A Value Object or VO is an object such as java.lang.Integer that hold values (hence value objects). For a more formal definition, I often refer to Martin Fowler’s description of Value Object:

In Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture I described Value Object as a small object such as a Money or date range object. Their key property is that they follow value semantics rather than reference semantics.

You can usually tell them because their notion of equality isn’t based on identity, instead two value objects are equal if all their fields are equal. Although all fields are equal, you don’t need to compare all fields if a subset is unique – for example currency codes for currency objects are enough to test equality.

A general heuristic is that value objects should be entirely immutable. If you want to change a value object you should replace the object with a new one and not be allowed to update the values of the value object itself – updatable value objects lead to aliasing problems.

Early J2EE literature used the term value object to describe a different notion, what I call a Data Transfer Object. They have since changed their usage and use the term Transfer Object instead.

You can find some more good material on value objects on the wiki and by Dirk Riehle.

Data Transfer Object

Data Transfer Object or DTO is a (anti) pattern introduced with EJB. Instead of performing many remote calls on EJBs, the idea was to encapsulate data in a value object that could be transfered over the network: a Data Transfer Object. Wikipedia has a decent definition of Data Transfer Object:

Data transfer object (DTO), formerly known as value objects or VO, is a design pattern used to transfer data between software application subsystems. DTOs are often used in conjunction with data access objects to retrieve data from a database.

The difference between data transfer objects and business objects or data access objects is that a DTO does not have any behaviour except for storage and retrieval of its own data (accessors and mutators).

In a traditional EJB architecture, DTOs serve dual purposes: first, they work around the problem that entity beans are not serializable; second, they implicitly define an assembly phase where all data to be used by the view is fetched and marshalled into the DTOs before returning control to the presentation tier.

So, for many people, DTOs and VOs are the same thing (but Fowler uses VOs to mean something else as we saw). Most of time, they follow the JavaBeans conventions and are thus JavaBeans too. And all are POJOs.



DTO – Data transfer objects are just data containers which are used to transport data between layers and tiers.

  • It mainly contains attributes. You can even use public attributes without getters and setters.
  • Data transfer objects do not contain any business logic.

Simple Registration form with attributes username,
password and email id.

  • When this form is submitted in RegistrationServlet file you will get all the attributes from view layer to business layer where you pass
    the attributes to java beans and then to the DAO or the persistence
  • DTO’s helps in transporting the attributes from view layer to business layer and finally to the persistence layer.

DTO was mainly used to get data transported across the network efficiently, it may be even from JVM to another JVM.

DTOs are often java.io.Serializable – in order to transfer data across JVM.

VO – A Value Object [1][2] represents itself a fix set of data and is similar to a Java enum. A Value Object’s identity is based on their state rather than on their object identity and is immutable. A real world example would be Color.RED, Color.BLUE, SEX.FEMALE etc.

POJO vs JavaBeans

[1] The Java-Beanness of a POJO is that it’s private attributes are all accessed via public getters and setters that conform to the JavaBeans conventions. e.g.

    private String foo;
    public String getFoo(){...}
    public void setFoo(String foo){...}; 
[2] JavaBeans must implement Serializable and have a no-argument constructor, where as in POJO does not have these restrictions.



DTO: “Data transfer objects ” can travel between seperate layers in software architecture.

VO: “Value objects ” hold a object such as Integer,Money etc.

POJO: Plain Old Java Object which is not a special object.

Java Beans: requires a Java Class to be serializable, have a no-arg constructor and a getter and setter for each field


Java Beans are not the same thing as EJBs.

The JavaBeans specification in Java 1.0 was Sun’s attempt to allow Java objects to be manipulated in an IDE that looked like VB. There were rules laid down for objects that qualified as “Java Beans”:

  1. Default constructor
  2. Getters and setters for private data members that followed the proper naming convention
  3. Serializable
  4. Maybe others that I’m forgetting.

EJBs came later. They combine distributed components and a transactional model, running in a container that manages threads, pooling, life cycle, and provides services. They are a far cry from Java Beans.

DTOs came about in the Java context because people found out that the EJB 1.0 spec was too “chatty” with the database. Rather than make a roundtrip for every data element, people would package them into Java Beans in bulk and ship them around.

POJOs were a reaction against EJBs.


It is a java file(class) which doesn’t extend or implement any other java file(class).

It is a java file(class) in which all variables are private, methods are public and appropriate getters and setters are used for accessing variables.

Normal class:
It is a java file(class) which may consist of public/private/default/protected variables and which may or may not extend or implement another java file(class).